The Blog

A Curious Justification

12:30 AM, Sep 18, 2009 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
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The declassified "Key Judgments" of the 2007 NIE were so foolish, in fact, that senior intelligence officials began walking back from the assessment within just a few months. In April of 2008, as the Washington Times reported, both CIA Director Michael Hayden and Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell emphasized "that Iran continues work on the enrichment of uranium, which could be used to make a weapon, and on ballistic missiles, which could be used to deliver a nuclear warhead."

The Washington Times quoted then CIA chief Hayden as saying, "The other aspects of the Iranian nuclear effort, beyond the weaponization, the development of fissile material, the development of delivery systems, all continue apace." That is, as far as the heads of the U.S. Intelligence Community knew last year, there were reasons to be worried about Iran's development of missile delivery systems.

In 2007, the IC produced an intelligence assessment that was intended to downplay the threat of Iran's burgeoning nuclear program. Now, the IC has done so once again. The 2007 estimate was fatally flawed. Chances are, so is the latest analysis.

The press would do well to ask: What is the basis of the latest assessment? Is the administration merely putting its policy preferences (downplaying the Iranian threat, appeasing the Russians) ahead of sound analysis?