Bush Continues to Spin the NIE Report


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“The U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) report regarding Iran’s Nuclear Intentions and capabilities was released on Monday, December 3rd. It states that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and has not pursued it since then…The NIE report on Iran was held back for more than a year in an effort to force the intelligence community to remove dissenting judgments on the Iranian nuclear program…..”

Author: Dr. Goudarz Eghtedari, American Iranian Friendship Council and producer of “Voices of the Middle East” for KBOO Community Radio in Portland, Oregon
Date: December, 2007

Read the full article:
Bush Continues to Spin the NIE Report
(781 words)
by Goudarz Eghtedari
The U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) report regarding Iran’s Nuclear Intentions and capabilities was released on Monday, December 3rd. It states that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and has not pursued it since then. As we know now, that is about the same time frame during which Iran offered a great bargain to the Bush Administration via the Swiss Embassy in Tehran. According to Flynt Leverett, the Senior Director for Middle East Affairs at the National Security Council (2002-3), and Richard Armitage, the Deputy Secretary of State (2001-2005), that proposal was ignored and rejected under pressure from the Vice President’s office.
The NIE report on Iran was held back for more than a year in an effort to force the intelligence community to remove dissenting judgments on the Iranian nuclear program. The institution of NIE coordinates the judgments of the 16 US intelligence agencies on a specific country or issue. The aim of the delay was to make the document more supportive of Vice President Dick Cheney’s policy of military aggression against Iran. This is verified through accounts provided to two former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officers by participants in the NIE process and then reported by Gareth Porter in the Asia Times on Nov. 10th of this year (“Spooks refuse to toe Cheney’s line on Iran”).
The report that was partially declassified today raises a serious question about the honesty of the President and his administration on this issue. For example, President Bush said on October 17: “I’ve told people that if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from have[ing] the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.” A few days earlier Tony Blair, in a New York appearance, talked about the threats of fascism and the similarity of the current situation in Iran to the 1930s in Germany. President Sarkuzi also talked about the supposed information that proves Iranian intentions of making the bomb. All these claims were made after IAEA chairman ElBaradei came out strongly with his organization’s semi-positive reports on the Iranian Nuclear program not needing to cause urgent alarm.
Around February of 2007 an Iranian Brigadier General defected to the West and was interviewed in Germany. General Asghari is believed to have been working with Western intelligence agencies since 2003, after he retired from his position as Deputy Secretary of Defense in the Iranian government. At the same time the US military removed Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq, a major event that caused the Iranian reliance on nuclear weaponry to be irrelevant after. Presumably Iranians knew that their attempt to make the bomb was a deterrent strategy only against potential Iraqi aggression, and would have not been sufficient against Israel or any other player, due to the latter’s much larger arsenal. Any such attempt would indeed “wipe out Iran from the face of time.”
As Porter suggests, the conclusions of the NIE have been known for quite a long time but were not permitted to be released. The question then becomes what did the President know and when, and why did he continue to mislead the world. It is obvious that if the NIE was held back for a year, it was readily available to the President. But if the US had been keeping this information under the rug and from their allies, what damage will this do to the remaining shreds of trust in the United States as a strategic ally? What will the fall-out be for decades of intelligence cooperation?
Stephen Hadley, the National Security Adviser to President Bush, yesterday came out spinning the report one more time by claiming that the administration only became aware of the facts last Tuesday (November 27), and that the President was informed on Wednesday, November 28. The reality is that the NIE report itself indicates that it is based on information received before and by the October 31st, 2007 cutoff date. On the other hand, the Bush administration now attempts to use the report as proof that the failed policy towards Iran has worked and pressure and isolation need to continue. Never mind the report indicates the halt of the weapon program took place in 2003, at the same time when the US government began claiming it existed, based on “information” provided by an Iranian opposition group categorized as “terrorist” organization. This was before international sanctions were in place.
Knowing what we know today thanks to the solid resistance of the intelligence community, we have the right to question the integrity of the White House and especially the Office of the Vice President. It has once again shown lack of sincerity.

Dr. Goudarz Eghtedari is active with the American Iranian Friendship Council (www.aifcpdx.org) and produces “Voices of the Middle East” (www.voicesofthemiddleeast.com) for KBOO Community Radio in Portland, Oregon.