In a new opinion piece, the Wall Street Journal notes that President Bush went out of his way to praise the "good work" of the intelligence community, whose latest National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) claims Iran abandoned its nuclear weapons program in 2003.
But the WSJ goes on to lambaste the ironic feature of the Estimate by recalling how for years, senior Administration officials, including Condoleezza Rice, have readily admitted how little the government knows about what goes on inside Iran.
In 2005, for instance, the bipartisan Robb-Silberman report highlighted its conclusion that "Across the board, the Intelligence Community knows disturbingly little about the nuclear programs of many of the world's most dangerous actors."
Furthermore, notes the WSJ, as recently as 2005, the consensus estimate of the nation’s spies was that "Iran currently is determined to develop nuclear weapons" and do so "despite its international obligations and international pressure." This was a "high confidence" judgment.
The NIE conclusion that now says Iran abandoned its nuclear program in 2003 is also a "high confidence" finding, notes the paper.
“One of the two conclusions is wrong, and casts considerable doubt on the entire process by which these ‘estimates’ -- the consensus of 16 intelligence bureaucracies -- are conducted and accorded gospel status,” noted the Journal.
No less a source than the IAEA recently confirmed that Iran already has blueprints to cast uranium in the shape of an atomic bomb core, points out the Journal, which also concludes that the ill-timed report puts the administration’s efforts to further sanction Iran at the U.N. on life support.
“Now they have done a 180-degree turn on Iran, and in such a way that will contribute to a complacency that will make it easier for Iran to build a weapon,” concluded the Journal.
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