A Miracle: Honest
Intel on Iran Nukes
By Ray McGovern
-- -- For those who have doubts about miracles, a double one
occurred today. An honest National Intelligence Estimate (NIE)
on Iran's nuclear program has been issued, and its "Key
Judgments" were made public.
With redraft after redraft, it
was what the Germans call eine schwere Geburt – a
difficult birth, 10 months in gestation.
I do not know how often Vice
President Dick Cheney visited CIA headquarters during the
gestation period, but I am told he voiced his displeasure as
soon as he saw the first sonogram/draft very early this year and
is so displeased with what issued that he has refused to be the
This time Cheney and his neocon
colleagues were unable to abort the process. And after delivery
to the press, this child is going to be very hard to explain –
the more so since it is legitimate.
The main points of the NIE:
"We judge that in fall 2003,
Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program…
"We assess with moderate
confidence Tehran has not restarted its nuclear weapons program
as of mid-2007.
"We do not have sufficient
intelligence to judge confidently whether Tehran is willing to
maintain the halt of its nuclear weapons program indefinitely…
"We judge with moderate
confidence Iran probably would be technically capable of
producing enough highly enriched uranium sometime during the
2010-2015 time frame.
"We judge with high
confidence that Iran will not be technically capable of
producing and reprocessing enough plutonium for a weapon before
Having reached these
conclusions, it is not surprising that the NIE's authors make a
point of saying up front (in bold type), "This NIE does
not [italics in original]
assume that Iran intends to acquire nuclear weapons."
This, of course, pulls out the
rug from under Cheney's claim of a "fairly robust new nuclear
program" in Iran and President Bush's inaccurate assertion that
Iranian leaders have even admitted they are developing nuclear
community analysts are no longer required to produce the
faith-based intelligence that brought us the Oct. 1, 2002, NIE
"Iraq's Continuing Program for Weapons of Mass Destruction" –
the worst in the history of U.S. intelligence.
Truth be told, one of the Iran
NIE's findings was written into its first draft, from which
Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell drew in
telling the Senate Armed Services Committee on Feb. 27 that Iran
could possibly develop a nuclear weapon by early-to-mid-next
McConnell said not a word,
though, about Iran's having halted its nuclear weapons program
in fall 2003. And in February, he was still adhering to the
faith-based approach, saying, "We assess that Iran seeks to
develop a nuclear weapon."
At which point Sen. Lindsay
Graham (R-S.C.) tried to sum up the proceedings with the
disingenuous comment "We all agree, then, that the Iranians are
trying to get nuclear weapons."
Curiously, McConnell indicated
recently that the key findings of NIEs would no longer be made
My guess is that the Pentagon,
and especially Adm. William Fallon, commander of our forces in
the Middle East, succeeded in persuading McConnell to go public.
Several months ago, Fallon was reliably reported to have said,
"We are not going to do Iran on my watch."
And it is an open secret that he
and other senior military officers, except those of the Air
Force, are strongly opposed to getting into a war with Iran for
which the U.S. is so ill prepared.
Will President George W. Bush
and our domesticated media succeed in dismissing this latest NIE
as "guesswork," as he has in the past? It is going to be highly
interesting to see how the White House will try to spin this
Ray McGovern works with Tell
the Word, the publishing arm of the Ecumenical Church of the
Saviour. During his 27-year career as a CIA analyst, he chaired
National Intelligence Estimates and produced/briefed the
President’s Daily Brief. He is now on the Steering Group of
Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).
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