Iranian nukes: Phony estimate or palace coup?
Careful reading of the unclassified portions of the latest National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) raises troubling questions. For example, this latest NIE is being contradicted by Israel, France and the United Kingdom.
This leads to one of two conclusions: (1) President Bush authorized the release of this particular NIE at this particular time because U.S. diplomats have cut a behind-the-scenes deal with Iran to stop its support of violence in Iraq or (2) the U.S. intelligence community has just staged a palace coup against the Bush Administration.
The current success of the Surge in Iraq and the sudden drop in both Iraqi civilian and U.S. casualties suggest a deal has been cut with Iran. This particular NIE estimates that Iran is no longer seeking nuclear weapons. That grants Iran readmission to polite international society.
Since the 1979 takeover of Iran by radical Muslim cleric Ayatollah Kohmeini, Iran has not been invited to the diplomatic dinner table. Now, Iranian mullahs are feeling pressure from a small, but growing, Iranian middle class that would like their nation to be seated at the table with civil societies, even if below the salt.
Or, was this latest NIE just further evidence of CIA and State Department hostility directed against President Bush? In, Sabotage: America’s Enemies Within The CIA, veteran reporter, Rowan Scarborough, lays out a convincing case that anti-Bush liberals, in both the CIA and the State Department, are using the CIA to undermine Administration policies with regard to the War on Terror.
For example, Scarborough found …“eight occasions on which current or former intelligence officials made serious allegations of wrongdoing against the president’s men that turned out to be untrue. In each case, the charges were first leaked to the press and became accepted as another blow against the president. Months later the allegations would be proven untrue, but by then the news had moved on. In some cases, even though independent investigations had completely discredited the charges, the press continued to repeat them unchallenged.
“In addition to the leaks of unsubstantiated charges, there were at least four politically motivated leaks that revealed classified programs with the dual intent of ending them and damaging the president.”
As former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, famously said, “Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns -- the ones we don’t know we don’t know."
Rumsfeld’s aphorism is sound. It is the mission of the CIA and other intelligence agencies to tell us the things we do not know – a mission lamentable for the failures we do know about.
For example, the CIA failed, in 1956, to warn President Eisenhower that the U.K., France and Israeli would attack Egypt to re-internationalize the Suez Canal. The Agency missed the 1956 student revolt in Hungary, the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia and the 1983 attack on the Marine barracks in Lebanon.
In 1991, the Agency failed to predict the collapse of the Soviet Union. It failed to know that a Pakistani scientist was sharing nuclear technology with Iran, Libya and North Korea.
Jointly, the CIA and FBI failed to know, in advance, about the 1993 attack on the NYC Twin Towers and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. The CIA failed to detect the 1996 Air Force barracks bombing in Saudi Arabia, the 1998 attacks on U.S. embassies in Africa, the 1999 attack on the USS Cole in Yemen and, of course, the tragic events of 9/11/2001.
Let us hope, therefore, that the latest NIE is the result of a secret U.S.-Iranian deal to reduce the violence in Iraq and not the actual judgment of those who have been caught not knowing so many times since the 1950s.
William Hamilton is a syndicated columnist and featured commentator for USA Today. He is a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers. Writing as William Penn, he and his wife, Penny, are the co-authors of The Grand Conspiracy and The Panama Conspiracy – two thrillers about terrorism directed against the United States.
©2007. William Hamilton.