<em>Deja Vu</em>: Bad Intel Data on Iranian Arms


According to a New York Times article out today by Douglas Jehl and Eric Schmitt, a high-level panel is going to report to President Bush that our intelligence on Iran’s arms is inadequate.
This hasn’t stopped the grind towards an Iran confrontation though. Porter Goss recently gave a statement that sounds exactly like the pre-Iraq War accounts of their nuclear, biological and chemical weaposn programs.
According to the Times:
The most complete recent statement by American agencies about Iran and its weapons, in an unclassified report sent to Congress in November by Porter J. Goss, director of central intelligence, said Iran continued “to vigorously pursue indigenous programs to produce nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.”
I am not in a position to know whether Iran is trying to feverishly produce WMDs or not. I have spent time with Michael Ledeen — who along with James Woolsey — comes as close to a modern Dr. Strangelove as anyone, and Ledeen sees Iran as the hub of all evil in the world. Afshin Molavi, my colleague at the New America Foundation, paints an entirely different picture.
The point is that given our unbelievably faulty intelligence on Iraq’s WMD programs, America’s credibility on the intel front is non-existent and needs to be re-established.
My proposal for the time being is to defer to the law of averages and give the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) the lead on Iran.
INR got Iraq right — and as Justin Rood’s excellent article in the Washington Monthly explains — while they don’t always get “it right,” their batting average is higher than any other intelligence bureaucracy in our government.
What does INR say on Iran? That would be interesting to know. . .
— Steve Clemons