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Friday, December 7

Israel to show US evidence on Iran's continued nuclear weapons program: more fallout from latest NIE

The following excerpts from a Jerusalem Post article throw some light on why US intelligence officials at work on the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran did not factor in Israel's intelligence. It seems the intelligence was ignored.

I'll grant it's possible that Israel was unwilling to share their "evidence" -- as distinct from intelligence -- until after the IDF got a look at the NIE.

Yet two things are coming clear: First, John "Mike" McConnell, the United States Director of National Intelligence, showed questionable judgment in keeping President Bush out of the loop for months about 'new' raw data on Iran's nuclear weapons program.

Second, McConnell showed bad judgment in deciding to declassify the NIE right away. He rushed to get the NIE to the public and the shaky grounds that "... we felt it was important to release this information to ensure that an accurate presentation is available," explained Donald Kerr, principal deputy director of national intelligence.

But the public can't have 'accuracy' on the report because certain elements of it remain classified! And because the report is public, it would be hard for US intelligence officials who signed off on the NIE to back away from the key conclusion -- that Iran had abandoned their nuclear weapons program in 2003 -- no matter what evidence Israel brings to the contrary.
IDF to show US nuclear data on Iran

Disappointed after failing to make their case on Iran and influence the outcome of the United States's National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) released this week, [Israel's] military Intelligence will present its hard core evidence on [Iran's] nuclear program on Sunday to the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff during a rare visit he will be making to Israel.

Admiral Michael Mullen will land in Israel Sunday morning for a 24-hour visit that will include a one-on-one meeting with IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, as well as with Defense Minister Ehud Barak. [...]

Mullen's visit to Israel will be exactly a week after the publication of the NIE report that claimed Iran had frozen its nuclear military program in 2003 and has yet to restart it. During his visit, Military Intelligence plans to present him with Israel's evidence that Iran is in fact developing nuclear weapons.

"The report clearly shows that we did not succeed in making our case over the past year in the run-up to this report," a defense official said Thursday. "Mullen's visit is an opportunity to try and fix that." [...]
Let's return to Defense Minister Barak's take on the NIE key conclusion:
"Mr. Barak also said that what appeared to be the source for the American assessment on [Iran's] weapons program was no longer functioning.

“We are talking about a specific track connected with their weapons building program, to which the American connection, and maybe that of others, was severed,” Mr. Barak said cryptically."
In light of unfolding events I don't think he was being so much cryptic as polite.

Pundita will be less polite: This is a royal mess, courtesy of America's daffy intelligence establishment.
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