Tag Archives: NIE

Jane Harman: Making Iran the new Iraq

Rep. Jane Harman teamed up today with Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) to editorialize in the Wall Street Journal on why Bush isn’t so bad The Limits of Intelligence.  Leaving aside the hilarious range of jokes afforded by the title, it’s a nearly letter-perfect exculpation for the Bush Administration.  To hear Reps. Harman and Hoekstra tell it, the information produced from the Intelligence community is inherently flawed and suspect.  As a result, any conclusion could be right or wrong at any given point and assigning a value judgment is just silly:

Still, intelligence is in many ways an art, not an exact science. The complete reversal from the 2005 National Intelligence Estimate on Iran’s nuclear-weapons program to the latest NIE serves as its own caution in this regard. The information we receive from the intelligence community is but one piece of the puzzle in a rapidly changing world. It is not a substitute for policy, and the challenge for policy makers is to use good intelligence wisely to fashion good policy.

Or in other words, sure it looks like Harman, Hoekstra and the President totally dropped the ball on this over the course of three full years of Iran-focused hawkish rhetoric that apparently had no basis in reality, but that’s just how it works.  And now that it’s been completely disproven, rather than admit an error, we’re simply going to blame the evidence.  It’s been said that a good craftsman never blames his tools, and this may be the best demonstration in quite some time.  Caught with their pants down the first time, it turns out that the assessment has always been correct no matter what the actual research or evidence might say, and we’re all best served just ignoring the inconvenient evidence and running with the stuff that we like.  I liked this outlook best when it was justifying the invasion of Iraq, but I guess the classics never really die.

After her primary challenge last year, I was hopeful that Harman’s hawkish tendencies would soften.  And in many ways, we’ve gotten that.  Despite protestations that “Jane Harman hasn’t changed” since declaring herself “The Best Republican in the Democratic Party,” her votes on the war have gotten better- in fits and starts- over the past year.  But lately she’s been trying to play thought police and now trying to justify a belligerent stance on Iran by legitimizing the same insanity that got us into Iraq.  In 2002, the selective application of intelligence and deliberate misinformation to support a pre-established policy goal went on behind closed doors and, eventually, really pissed people off.  Oh, and it also needlessly killed hundreds of thousands of people, bankrupted the country, further destabilized the Middle East and destroyed the nation’s international credibility.  But this time we’re going to tell you to your face that we’re feeding a predetermined policy and tell you that it’s the only reasonable way to decide anything.  Only the crazy irrational fringe would be swayed by actual evidence.

Perhaps the saddest part is that this whole article goes beyond political outrage and comes off as Rep. Harman’s “I drive a Dodge Stratus!” moment.  She got passed over to Chair the House Intelligence Committee after Democrats retook the House, getting the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence instead.  This sure does come off as a half-bitter, half-desperate attempt to reclaim relevance by grabbing a headline.  Maybe her tendency to undermine the party in support of hawking an antagonistic foreign policy is why Rep. Silvestre Reyes is chairing the Intelligence Committee today.  I’m just speculating there of course, but it’s tough to come up with a positive reading of this editorial, particularly when it finally boils down to “The government is telling you Iran is dangerous even though the government has established that Iran is not dangerous”:

Though the new NIE may be taken as positive news, Iran clearly remains dangerous. The combination of international pressure, economic sanctions and the presence of U.S. troops on Iran’s borders may have indeed convinced Tehran to abandon its nuclear-weapons program, as the NIE states with “high confidence.” Nevertheless, Congress must engage in vigorous oversight — to challenge those who do intelligence work, and to make site visits to see for ourselves.

This line of crap flew in 2002 and 2003 because Democrats like Jane Harman pushed it and there wasn’t a clear and recent debacle to prove how wrong-headed it was to its core.  There’s no excuse now.

Cross posted to DailyKos

Edwards: the Lesson of Iraq and a New Strategy for Iran

Long before it was “popular”, John Edwards was calling for a New Strategy for Iran (and the War on Terror in general)

Long before the NIE Report, threw water on the GOP’s fiery rhetoric about the looming dangers of Iran, Edwards was saying we must learn the lessons of the Iraq War — NOT Repeat them in Iran!

Long before the cynical Rumsfeld Memos were leaked (proving Edwards right), John Edwards was busy “reframing” the Global War on Terror, calling it “a ‘bumper sticker’ slogan Bush had used to justify everything …”

Did Edwards get Media Attention and fanfare for his insightful and stateman-like leadership — NO, but he DID help to change the national conversation!

So Much so, that insiders in NIE (National Intelligence Estimate), seem to have taken his advice that: “We’ve got to stand up to Bush and Cheney and the Neocons …”

Even though Bush knew of the NIE Report Conclusions, as early as August this year:

At a press briefing this morning, President Bush said he was told by his Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell “in August” that “we have some new information” regarding Iran’s nuclear program.

In spite of knowing there was No imminent threat of Nukes from Iran, Bush continued to trump up the neocon agenda, of looking under chairs and in closets for the next generation of WMD’s (Weapons of Mass Delusion)!

Indeed as recently as mid Oct, Bush was raising the spectre of World War III:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President George W. Bush warned on Wednesday a nuclear-armed Iran could lead to World War III as he tried to shore up international opposition to Tehran amid Russian skepticism over its nuclear ambitions.

More “bumper sticker” sloganeering — no doubt! Thanks goodness for the voices of reason and sanity within the NIE, for deciding to go public, with there previously internal Report. True Patriots, I’d say, inside government, taking a stand against — more Neocon manipulation of the American People! Bravo!

So what were the Conclusions of the sea-change Report from the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE)?

November 2007

National Intelligence Estimates (NIE)

Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities

Key Judgments

We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program.

– We judge with high confidence that the halt lasted at least several years.

– We assess with moderate confidence Tehran had not restarted its nuclear weapons program as of mid-2007, but we do not know whether it currently intends to develop nuclear weapons.

– We continue to assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Iran does not currently have a nuclear weapon.

– Tehran’s decision to halt its nuclear weapons program suggests it is less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005. Our assessment that the program probably was halted primarily in response to international pressure suggests Iran may be more vulnerable to influence on the issue than we judged previously.

We judge with moderate confidence that the earliest possible date Iran would be technically capable of producing enough HEU for a weapon is late 2009, but that this is very unlikely.

– We judge with moderate confidence Iran probably would be technically capable of producing enough HEU for a weapon sometime during the 2010-2015 time frame. (INR judges Iran is unlikely to achieve this capability before 2013 because of foreseeable technical and programmatic problems.)

All agencies recognize the possibility that this capability may not be attained until after 2015.

http://media.npr.org/documents… (pdf)


So what are the implications for the Bush Agenda, and for those Presidential hopefuls, who want to pick up where Bush left off? NPR has a few thoughts on the implications this NIE news:


NIE Report May Block Military Force Against Iran

by Mike Shuster

Morning Edition, December 5, 2007 – The emergence of the new National Intelligence Estimate on Iran is presenting a major challenge to the policies of the Bush administration.

The report’s primary conclusion – that Iran halted a secret nuclear weapons program four years ago – appears to raise barriers to the use of military force against Iran and raise questions about whether economic sanctions are even justified.

President Defends Iran Policy

As justification for continuing his Iran policy, the president cited the NIE’s judgment that Iran chose to shut down its covert nuclear program in 2003 because of international pressure. The president said he wants that pressure to continue.

But in 2003, there were no economic sanctions against Iran. The U.S. refused to engage with Iran and dismissed the European decision to negotiate as fruitless.

Recently, the administration has been talking about even tougher sanctions, all the while suggesting the possibility of military attack.

But the first casualty of the NIE’s conclusions appears to be the military option. Many experts think it is impossible now. Bruce Riedel, who spent 30 years in the CIA, is among them. Riedel is a scholar with the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.

“There is no possible way that the United States could now use unilateral military force in the wake of this estimate. I don’t think the political calculus in this country or that of our allies abroad would tolerate it,” he said.



Interesting. And indeed hopeful. Maybe the world can begin to recover from the disastrous policy of endless preemptive war! Maybe America CAN return to our core values, that most of us believe, in afterall? Let hope so.

John Edwards has been calling for ENDING the policies of preemptive war and the application of “smart power”, as early as May of this year, and recently as November, in a Major Speech CNN’s Wolf Blitzer called “important”:

John Edwards: Situation Room-Nov 2007



Here’s are some of the key points of this important Edwards Foreign Policy speech. Funny how today’s current events, are once again proving, “John Edwards IS Right, again!”

Learning the Lesson of Iraq: A New Strategy for Iran

Nov 5, 2007

University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa

John Edwards:

This is a critical moment. As a nation, we stand today at a fork in the road with Iran. We have a real choice about the direction we’ll take. One path will replay the last seven years. It leads toward a dark future of belligerence, aggression, and war.

We need a new direction — one that will defuse the Iran threat, rather than aggravate it, one that will make America safer, not make the world more dangerous.

To understand exactly what the administration is trying to do with Iran, we need to go back to the beginning of the Bush Administration and look at how they took us to war with Iraq.

In the spring of 2002, the nation was struggling to recover from the devastating terrorist attacks of 9/11. At the same time, a group of Bush Administration neoconservatives, like Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz, were strategizing for ways to start a war with Iraq. And suddenly, instead of reacting to 9/11 by working to protect America from terrorists, they saw a political opportunity to promote their right-wing ideological agenda and demonize anyone who disagreed with them.

Here’s what you have to know about these neoconsthey think might makes right, every time. They believe in domination, not debate. They think America should use our military power to impose our will wherever and whenever we want. They use a sledgehammer when we should use a scalpel.

And here’s what you need to know about George Bush’s foreign policyit’s written by these neocons, lock, stock, and barrel.

So after 9/11, instead of focusing on the terrorist threat, George Bush started promoting a radical new neoconservative doctrine he called, quote, “preventive war” — which would soon become part of his argument for war in Iraq.

Here’s what they mean by preventive war — if we see a possible threat, we go to war; we don’t exhaust diplomatic, political, and economic options, we go straight to war. Under this Bush doctrine, military force is no longer the option of last resort.

Harry Truman once said, “There is nothing more foolish than to think that war can be stopped by war. You don’t ‘prevent’ anything other than peace.”

That’s exactly right. Think about it — you don’t prevent wars by starting them. It would be ridiculous if it weren’t so dangerous.

This George Bush policy instead is, almost literally, “shoot first, ask questions later.”

So let me be clear.

We should take Iran very seriously. And as commander-in-chief, if I ever learn that any nation is threatening an imminent attack, I will do what’s necessary to protect America.

But the one thing we absolutely should not be doing is launching another so-called “preventive war” with Iran. American and the world possess a powerful arsenal of diplomatic and economic options that have not yet been used, let alone exhausted.

We need, in short, a new strategy for Iran. My plan for Iran has five principles.

(1) End the doctrine of preventive war

First and foremost, we need to ensure that the preventive war doctrine goes where it belongs — the trash-heap of history. As he has done with so much else, Vice President Al Gore got it right about the preventive war doctrine.

(2) Use smart sanctions against Iran

The second principle is to use bolder and more targeted economic sanctions to force Iran’s leaders to understand that they cannot continue to buck the will of the international community without destroying their ability to be the modern, advanced nation they so desperately want to become.

There are smart sanctions that will achieve results, and there are reckless sanctions that will backfire and play into a policy of military attacks. The Bush-Cheney sanctions Senator Clinton supports are the most radical, unprecedented, and belligerent sanctions possible. These reckless sanctions will escalate tensions between the U.S. and Iran — the thing Bush and Cheney most want — and have other unintended consequences, such as higher oil prices.

(3) Offer carrot of possibility to re-join the world community

The third principle of my plan is to use “carrots” — diplomatic measures to convince Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions and re-join the world community. We should draw Iran into compliance through incentives including increased refinery capacity and a regional fuel bank that Iran could use for peaceful purposes.

And we need to use the possibility of bringing Iran into multilateral economic organizations, including the WTO, as a carrot for change.

(4) Open Diplomatic Communication with Iran

The fourth principle of my policy is to reengage with Iran.

Even Republicans like Senator Hagel are now urging the president to open up communications with Iran. Communication is not a concession. After all, we talked to our great enemy, the Soviet Union, at the height of tensions during the Cold War.

But we must always negotiate from a position of strength.

(5) Get other Nations to apply pressure

And the fifth and final principle is to reengage with other major nations on the challenge of Iran.

We must work with China and Russia on the problem of Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Both nations have economic relationships with Iran on trade and energy. But both nations also have a strong interest in stability in the Middle East. And neither nation wants the nuclear club to expand. In the first year of my administration, I will convene a conference with my Secretary of State and representatives from the “E.U. 3” — Great Britain, France, and Germany — Russia, China and Iran, to discuss a way out of the stalemate of the Bush Administration.

The strategy I’ve described to you today is the right way to keep America strong while keeping the peace.

It is the right way to force Iran to forgo its nuclear ambitions.

And it is the right way to restore America’s historic role as a leader of the world community — through a combination of strength, vision, and reengagement with the world.

America needs a president who can guide America through a dangerous world, with the wisdom of history by our side.

America has gone through similar challenges before.



Edwards’ smart, targeted, and visionary Foreign Policy are among the many reasons, he has my support, in his bid for President.

This new NIE Report should cause a few changes a few Cover Stories, both in the Administration and among some Presidential Hopefuls. The GOP Hopefuls were intending to run against the Bogey Man in Iran, against those “new” WMD — Weapons of Mass Delusion. And senator Clinton was planning on running by looking as tough as the GOP on Iran and Iraq, thus her support of the Kyle-Lieberman Vote.

NOW what will they do and say in light of the NIE Report? Anything?

Will any of them admit mistakes?

Will any of them take a more Humanitarian perspective, on Global problems as Edwards has long advocated for?

Or will Candidates do what they always do — and act like “Status Quo” Bureaucrats — ignoring the relevant Facts, and just continue with “Business as Usual”! … Pssst: Iran is NOT the “clear and present danger” you all were making it out to be!

We need to give 3rd world countries Hope — NOT Hate. America needs to pull the world’s citizens to our side of the fence — and NOT push them to the other side of the fence!

We need a Statesman like John Edwards, restoring the Moral Authority of America again, and not squandering it away with more preemptive misguided military intrusions!

Until America uses our power smartly, and stops all the bullying on the block, we will never be able to lead on other critical Global Issues like Global Warming, and Aids, and Tribal Conflicts, and poverty, and Hunger, and Thirst.

As a Country we ARE Better than what the World has seen latelyit’s high time we showed them, what most Americans are really about.

But that will take real progressive Leadership, who has those goals as the core of his agenda. IMO, that will take John Edwards at the helm.


Kucinich Calling For Congressional Investigation of NIE Handling

“When taken in concert with the statements and actions of the Administration over the past year regarding Iran, the National Intelligence Estimate reveals a pattern of willful deceit directed at the U.S. Congress, the American people, and the rest of the world on the critical matters of war and peace.”

                        Dennis Kucinich

He also pointed out that this most recent revelation, of an Administration’s deaf ear to facts, shouldn’t surprise us:

“More than three months ago, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Iran was cooperating with inspection procedures and demanded that the Bush Administration disclose any alleged evidence regarding such a program. None was provided.  More than a month ago, Russian President Putin revealed findings by his own nation’s intelligence services and announced that there was no credible evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program.

“Yet, in the face of both sets of findings, this Administration continued its drumbeat for war. Just this past week, Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, with the NIE in his hands, was trying to arm-twist our NATO allies and the Republic of China into pressuring the U.N. Security Council to impose additional sanctions on Iran because of its alleged weapons program.

As many of you know, Kucinich’s push for Impeachment has been concerned specifically with this Administration’s actions regarding intelligence for War; Iraq, as well as Iran. In fact, Article Three of the impeachment resolution reads:

In his conduct while Vice President of the United States, Richard B. Cheney, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of Vice President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has openly threatened aggression against the Republic of Iran absent any real threat to the United States, and done so with the United States proven capability to carry out such threats, thus undermining the national security of the United States, to wit:

(1) Despite no evidence that Iran has the intention or the capability of attacking the United States and despite the turmoil created by United States invasion of Iraq, the Vice President has openly threatened aggression against Iran as evidenced by the following:

(A) `For our part, the United States is keeping all options on the table in addressing the irresponsible conduct of the regime. And we join other nations in sending that regime a clear message: We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.’ March 7, 2006, Speech of Vice President Cheney to American Israel Public Affairs Committee 2006 Policy Conference.

(B) `But we’ve also made it clear that all options are on the table.’ January 24, 2007, CNN Situation Room interview with Vice President Cheney.

(C) `When we–as the President did, for example, recently–deploy another aircraft carrier task force to the Gulf, that sends a very strong signal to everybody in the region that the United States is here to stay, that we clearly have significant capabilities, and that we are working with friends and allies as well as the international organizations to deal with the Iranian threat.’ January 29, 2007, Newsweek interview with Vice President Cheney.

(D) `But I’ve also made the point and the President has made the point that all options are still on the table.’ February 24, 2007, Vice President Cheney at Press Briefing with Australian Prime Minister in Sydney, Australia.

(2) The Vice President, who repeatedly and falsely claimed to have had specific, detailed knowledge of Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction capabilities, is no doubt fully aware of evidence that demonstrates Iran poses no real threat to the United States as evidenced by the following:

(A) `I know that what we see in Iran right now is not the industrial capacity you can [use to develop a] bomb.’ Mohamed ElBaradei, Director General of International Atomic Energy Agency, February 19, 2007.

(B) Iran indicated its `full readiness and willingness to negotiate on the modality for the resolution of the outstanding issues with the IAEA, subject to the assurances for dealing with the issues in the framework of the Agency, without the interference of the United Nations Security Council’. IAEA Board Report, February 22, 2007.

(C) `. . . so whatever they have, what we have seen today, is not the kind of capacity that would enable them to make bombs.’ Mohamed El Baradei, Director General of International Atomic Energy Agency, February 19, 2007.

(3) The Vice President is fully aware of the actions taken by the United States towards Iran that are further destabilizing the world as evidenced by the following:

(A) The United States has refused to engage in meaningful diplomatic relations with Iran since 2002, rebuffing both bilateral and multilateral offers to dialogue.

(B) The United States is currently engaged in a military buildup in the Middle East that includes the increased presence of the United States Navy in the waters near Iran, significant United States Armed Forces in two nations neighboring to Iran, and the installation of anti-missile technology in the region.

(C) News accounts have indicated that military planners have considered the B61-11, a tactical nuclear weapon, as one of the options to strike underground bunkers in Iran.

(D) The United States has been linked to anti-Iranian organizations that are attempting to destabilize the Iranian government, in particular the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK), even though the state department has branded it a terrorist organization.

(E) News accounts indicate that United States troops have been ordered into Iran to collect data and establish contact with anti-government groups.

(4) In the last three years the Vice President has repeatedly threatened Iran. However, the Vice President is legally bound by the U.S. Constitution’s adherence to international law that prohibits threats of use of force.

(A) Article VI of the United States Constitution states, `This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land.’ Any provision of an international treaty ratified by the United States becomes the law of the United States.

(B) The United States is a signatory to the United Nations Charter, a treaty among the nations of the world. Article II, Section 4 of the United Nations Charter states, `All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.’ The threat of force is illegal.

(C) Article 51 lays out the only exception, `Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.’ Iran has not attacked the United States; therefore any threat against Iran by the United States is illegal.

The Vice President’s deception upon the citizens and Congress of the United States that enabled the failed United States invasion of Iraq forcibly altered the rules of diplomacy such that the Vice President’s recent belligerent actions towards Iran are destabilizing and counterproductive to the national security of the United States.

In all of this, Vice President Richard B. Cheney has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as Vice President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and the manifest injury of the people of the United States.

Wherefore Richard B. Cheney, by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial, and removal from office.

Kucinich pointed out that since it now seems publicly evident that the Administration willfully falsified the facts regarding their weapons program, it is now time for Congress to investigate the mater:

“I call on the Congress to launch an immediate investigation into what our intelligence agencies knew and when they knew it. I believe such an investigation will further build the case for the impeachment of both the President and the Vice President. The fact that  the President recently raised the specter of a possible World War III in public comments regarding Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program — when he knew full well that Iran had no such program – should seriously be considered as a high crime. And, the fact that he and his Vice President have pursued plans for our military to drop 30,000-pound bunker buster bombs on Iranian nuclear research facilities constitutes a war crime.”

And really how couldn’t you? Because I want to lay it down here: anyone who hopes to hold our highest office must support accountability for that office. It is time for our other candidates to join Kucinich in pushing for an investigation. Biden has seems to have started to firt with the idea, but we need the pressure from all of our Candidates. The more public and popular, the more pressure their statements will create. Where are they?