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NIE Debacle: Benefits of Game Changing Diplomacy Backed by Game Changing Intel

Back in late 2007, I wasn’t alone while tripping out over what was clearly highly politicized intelligence. The American National Intelligence Estimate released on Iran at the time went against the prominent views of the US Bush administration, the NIE released just prior in 2005, and stood in contrast to the intelligence estimates of a number of key western allies; Including Israel, the UK, Germany and even France.

The NIE made the absurd claim that Iran had ceased the military dimensions of its nuclear program. Worse it did so in the cagiest of manners with buried footnotes, selective declassified wording, topped off with media briefings. It resulted in a derailing of effective US policy on the Iranian issue buying Iran plenty of precious time, a respite which continues.

Dishonest sorta means lying doesn’t it?

Alan Dershorwitz writes..

In December of 2007, I wrote an article about the National Intelligence Estimate that had just concluded that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program back in 2003. The immediate effect of this pollyanna-ish report was to diminish the need for tough sanctions against Iran and take the military option off the table. We now know that the conclusion reached in the report was categorically false, and that those who issued the report knew it was false. [...]

It now turns out that at the time this “stupid intelligence” estimate was released, our intelligence agencies were aware that the Iranians were building a secret military facility buried deep in the mountains near the holy city of Qom. The United States recently disclosed the existence of this facility (after Iran was forced to acknowledge its existence) together with its firm conclusion that it could be used only for the development of a nuclear weapons program. If the intelligence community knew then what they know now, then its 2007 National Intelligence Estimate was not only stupid, it was dishonest.

Pretty damning, and justifiably so. Ed at Hotair commenting on a scathing WSJ Opinion piece, states matter of factly that it seems clear enough bureaucrats at US intelligence pulled off a full fledged sabotage of then President Bush’s foreign policy..

As Glenn Reynolds says, the NIE has been exposed as an effort by a handful of people at the CIA to kneecap Bush on national security. It deliberately misled Congress and the nation on the threat posed by Iran, a lie that has cost us valuable time in stopping the nuclear threat. If Iran gets the bomb, we can thank Tom Fingar and his colleagues for distracting the US long enough to allow them to do so.

Jennifer Rubin goes right to the source, raising a number of questions while commenting on remarks by CIA Director Leon Panetta to Time Magazine – She concludes..

Both the 2007 NIE report and the behavior of the Obama administration betray a concerted aversion to confronting Iran and doing what is needed to halt its nuclear ambitions.

Game Changing Diplomacy

Questions which tie in the current administration seem apt. The politicization of the intelligence had an important role supporting and nourishing the floating think tank engagement theories which were emerging. Those theories have become the hallmark of Obama’s foreign policy strategy, and called for ‘putting the military option in the drawer’. The think tanks termed it Game Changing Diplomacy, after a brief by The Center For A New American Security (CNAS) on US Iranian strategy in 2008. CNAS members then went on to staff Obama’s administration in a big way, including  the Deputy Secretary of Defense Michele Flournoy.

Today, CNAS policies are closely associated with the Obama White House, so it should come as no shock that the Game Changing Diplomacy / Grand bargain strategy has become the blue print for Obama on Iran. However, it is somewhat shocking that apparently part of the effort to usher in ‘Game changing diplomacy’, may have involved a little nudging best effectuated by ‘game changing intelligence’.

A game that seemingly has continued to this day.

* UPD - I futzed with the title a bit and corrected a typo.

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