Dec 04 2007

Iran NIE Is Not A Typical Intel NIE

Published by at 4:23 pm under All General Discussions,Iran,Plame Game

Wild Speculation Alert: I have listed a lot of coincidental and circumstantial evidence in this post folks. I feel compelled to warn everyone when I see links to this NIE and Valerie Plame!

It seems the NIE was NOT a consensus view of the US Intelligence Community but a hack job by some folks with possible political aspirations (wonder what CNN debate these folks will turn up in):

A highly controversial, 150 page National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran’s nuclear programs was coordinated and written by former State Department political and intelligence analysts — not by more seasoned members of the U.S. intelligence community, Newsmax has learned.

Its most dramatic conclusion — that Iran shut down its nuclear weapons program in 2003 in response to international pressure — is based on a single, unvetted source who provided information to a foreign intelligence service and has not been interviewed directly by the United States.

H/T Reader Kathie. No NIE Key Judgments would EVER be based on a single source that had not been vetted. Even the Israelis believe Iran has restarted their weapons program. Is someone trying to pull a Curveball on the US again? I mean this sounds like your classical “slam dunk” – doesn’t it? Well there are political animals sprinkled all through the Federal Government – and this one just went too far:

The National Intelligence Council, which produced the NIE, is chaired by Thomas Fingar, “a State Department intelligence analyst with no known overseas experience who briefly headed the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research,” I wrote in my book “Shadow Warriors: The Untold Story of Traitors, Saboteurs, and the Party of Surrender.” [Editor’s Note: Get “Shadow Warriors” free — go here now.]

Fingar was a key partner of Senate Democrats in their successful effort to derail the confirmation of John Bolton in the spring of 2005 to become the U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations.

As the head of the NIC, Fingar has gone out of his way to fire analysts “who asked the wrong questions,” and who challenged the politically-correct views held by Fingar and his former State Department colleagues, as revealed in “Shadow Warriors.”

In March 2007, Fingar fired his top Cuba and Venezuela analyst, Norman Bailey, after he warned of the growing alliance between Castro and Chavez.

Yeah, like there is no bond between Chavez and Castro. I am looking into the names of the folks behind this NIE. They look to be targets of the left most of the time, but I did find some interesting points. It seems Fingar is more of an Academic than one would suspect:

Six months later, Director George Tenet delivered the CIA’s conclusion in testimony before the Senate: Contrary to its own earlier analysis, the CIA now believed that North Korea would test an intercontinental missile in the “near future.” In response to this new threat, the Clinton administration earmarked $6.6 billion over five years to develop a missile-defense system.

Over at the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), analysts argued that the North Koreans were much farther off than the CIA believed. North Korea could potentially threaten the United States within a decade “only if it abandons its current moratorium on long-range missile flight testing,” Tom Fingar, then-acting principal deputy assistant secretary of INR, testified before Congress in February 2001. Although the White House and Congress accepted the CIA’s analysis, INR ultimately proved to be correct. In the five years since Tenet’s testimony, North Korea has yet to test an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Second, INR gets a different kind of analyst. The CIA, under the gun to staff up mightily after its ranks were thinned by budget cuts in the 1970s and 1990s, tends to recruit kids right out of college and train them in their new “specialties.” (All new CIA hires must be under 35 years of age, although that requirement is occasionally waived.) And while the CIA’s young analysts occasionally travel to their countries of responsibility and bone up by reading at their desk, they have little first-hand experience of their regions. INR couldn’t be more different. Among the civil servants who make up two-thirds of its staff are many scholars lured out of the academy who come with years of knowledge. Fingar is one of them: He spent a decade-and-a-half as a scholar at Stanford’s U.S.-China relations program, speaks fluent Mandarin, and has traveled widely in China. The other third of INR’s staff are Foreign Service officers rotating through who usually have spent several diplomatic tours in the country or region they are focusing on at INR, and who thus have both a reservoir of knowledge about its personalities and history, and a deep well of personal contacts.

Whoever wrote this really had it wrong on North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile tests – they have been trying. Just not succeeding. But one thing is clear, Fingar is a hang-on from the Clinton days. And everyone should recognize the initials INR from the Plame Games.

So what about Kenneth Brill? Well, he also has some interesting intersections with Plame and Wilson – he worked with Joe Wilson at State. More than that he claimed in 2005 that Iran has lied to fit the facts on its nuclear weapons programs:

Following disclosures of previously undeclared nuclear activities, in March 2004, Brill said, “The Iranians change their stories to fit the facts.” He added, “I think it’s striking that the more the agency learns, the more the Iranians have to change their stories,” and he predicted the IAEA would have to deal with Iran “for many years to come.”

Needless to say he too is a Clinton holdover. My guess is we will discover these folks linked to the last big INR/CIA intel leak – the Wilson claim that Bush and Cheney used forged documents to go into Iraq. The timing is way too similar.

Update: More here on Brill and Fingar and their opposition to Bush:

DNI Negroponte is appointing Kenneth C. Brill, a frequent antagonist of Bush administration hardliners on policies toward North Korean and Iraq, to the new post of director of the National Counterproliferation Center, an Executive Level II job that outranks undersecretaries, the Washington Post reported.

Is the timing of these old Clinton hands coming out with this stuff tied to the coming election? Hmm,….

Update: From this tidbit I would bet Fingar and Plame crossed paths many times:

Thomas Fingar, like a number of members of John Negroponte’s inner circle, hails from the State Department. He led the department’s intelligence unit, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), which raised some of the strongest objections to the determination by the CIA and others that Iraq was trying to build nuclear weapons rather than enhancing its conventional arsenal. The twist of fate in Fingar’s new job will not be lost on intelligence observers.

Recall Plame was heading up the entire Intelligence Community’s Joint Task Force on Iraq and WMDs at the time I believe Fingar was at INR. If Fingar was one of those few, like Plame, claiming Iraq was NOT attempting to acquire nuclear weapons then they would become fast allies in the small IC world. These two people rubbed shoulders – trust me. It is no secret the INR Fingar led played such a central role in Wilson’s trip as well. Coincidence? And now we come back to the big mystery of the Wilson trip to Niger – why DID the IC debrief Joe Wilson at his house with Valerie when he came back from Niger? Why not bring him in? And who were the two INR/CIA folks at the debriefing (and possibly provided corroboration to the Kristof pieces when Joe was still anonymous)?

17 responses so far

17 Responses to “Iran NIE Is Not A Typical Intel NIE”

  1. kathie says:

    These disclosers always fit a pattern. They give the Dems ammunition to take down the President in a way he can’t explain because the information to correct the perception is classified, or it hurts the intel agencies he depends on for information. Very crafty of the Dems. But it makes me wonder if they care about our country.

    I think that there is alot more to come from this NEI report, mostly that it is bogus. Gertz and Timmerman are very good at finding the facts. So are you AJ.

  2. Terrye says:

    The Isrealis were wrong about Saddam and his wmd too.

    Has the Bush administration come out and said this is bogus?

    I think it would be a mistake to assume it is. It could be true that the Iranians called a halt to making a bomb, but continued to enrich uranium. They might just be waiting to see who wins the next election. After all Gaddafi gave up his program in 2003, after he saw what happened to Saddam.

    But I think it would be a mistake to assume this intel is wrong.

  3. Terrye says:

    And as far as this being a gift to Clinton, her rivals are using this as an excuse to attack her.

  4. kathie says:

    Terrye…we don’t know that the Israel was wrong about Iraqi WMD’s. Think Syria and Russia.

  5. Good Captain says:

    I’ll be tuning in b/n you and Mac to continue delivering interesting tidbits.

  6. Dc says:

    How would it have looked if Bush had done this speech based on an entirely conflicting CIA (and others) report with the State Dept pushing press releases in the backround that they assessed something different?

    The state dept analysis was what the demorats held up as proof Bush “lied”…because he didn’t take their advice against all the others who were saying something else on certain issues (nuclear in particular). So, it makes perfect sense..that he would go to them to get their report first. The CIA ain’t exactly been batting a thousand lately either.

  7. clarice says:

    Remember they missed the Pakistan nukes. They missed the collapse of Russia. Rely on them at your own risk.

  8. kathie says:

    I hate it when the President is called a liar. So here is some good news.

    Al Qaeda Confession: Only 200 Foreign Terrorists are left in Iraq.
    December 4 2007 | jveritas

    Posted on 12/04/2007 7:22:21 PM PST by jveritas

    In his speech released yesterday Abou Omar Al Baghdadi the supposed leader of the Islamic State in Iraq which is Al Qaeda in Iraq said that only two hundered Mohajeroon are left in Iraq. Mohajeroon which means immigrants in Arabic are the foreign terrorists who came to fight in Iraq. This is yet the most stunning admission by Al Qaeda in Iraq that they are totally destroyed and from the tens of thousands of foreign terrorists they had, almost all of them are killed and captured and only two hundreds are left.

    This is the quote translation of what Al Baghdadi said in his latest speech: “… with all that, the Mouhajeron in Mesopotamia left the world and went quickly to meet their lord after they sacrificed their money and their blood sometimes in the martyrdom operations and sometimes by throwing themselves in front of the enemy that only two hundreds Mouhajeron are left today in our beloved Iraq…”

    We won this war.

    God bless President Bush and all our brave troops.

  9. A Bush Betrayal?…

    Lots of “theories” floating around how this reversal NIE came about, but if you believe Robert Baer, it’s “blame Bush“.
    “The real story behind this NIE is that the Bush Administration has finally concluded Iran is a …

  10. kathie says:

    I don’t remember Bush ever talking about bombing Iran. The dems talk about it all the time. Bush has said that he will take nothing off the table. The Dems are pretending that Bush went behind their back and bombed Iraq. They are full of it. And I’m sick of it.

  11. Dc says:

    Amen Kathie

  12. Dc says:

    Bush just pushed the State Dept out front and answer for whatever comes on this. He said…I support you, I believe you. Now..lets see what happens. Most of the rest of the world will gang up on us. The UN will withdraw. And Iran…will get back to business on this.

    One question that has never been asked/answered: why is Iran enriching plutonium at a spec that does not match the yet to be built reactors from Russia??

  13. Dc says:

    It’s a simple question. The efforts Iran has made to date…based on the premise of peaceful nuclear technology …..coming from the reactors that Russia has up until recently been secretly helping them build…are not compatible with the Russian reactor. Why?

    Iran says..they dont’ want to use Russian or outside enriched uranium…but want to make it themselves. They have violated “2” UN directives thus far…resulting in sanctions…declaring that this is a purely peaceful endevour. WHY then….would their uranium enrichment not be compatible with the reactor that Russia is helping build (that is not yet complete)???

    Evidently…that question has “completely” slipped the UN inspectors minds. It has never been asked.

  14. Terrye says:

    Actually Bush did make a point of saying that Iran would not be allowed to get a nuke. I took that to mean that he would use the military option and that is what the Democrats are talking about. In fact I have heard a lot of people on the right say we can not trust the Democrats for the very reason that they would not take military action against Iran.

    I am sure that this intel could be flawed, all of it is guess work after all. What I am saying is that it is very possible that Iran looked at what Bush did to Afghanistan and Iraq and decided to put a hold on the bomb making until someone more to their liking was in the White House. Meanwhile, they opted to keep enriching uranium.

    For people to call Bush a liar for repeating what our contradictory intel service says is not only wrong, it is predictable. It is what the left always does. However, to simply ignore this news and assume that it is all part of some larger plot might be just as big a mistake.

    It may not be that anyone lied, it could just be that they are not sure.

    One thing is for sure, if the intel lies about this and the Iranians do a nuke test in a year or two they will lose what precious little credibility they have left. I am not sure they would deliberately risk that.

    Who knows, in a year or so they might come out with a different take again.

    But do not read things into this report that are not there. The report does not say that Iran is “peaceful”, it says they are “stalled”.

  15. Terrye says:


    The Israelis were wrong. I am not saying that I think Saddam was innocent. We did not sneak up on the man, he had opportunities to get rid of anything he did not want found, but the Israelis did not tell us when we went into Iraq that we would not be finding any stockpiles there. It was after the fact that they said they believed the stockpiles had been moved. None of which helped Bush in the summer of 2003 when the Left was chanting, Bush lied and people died. We do not need to go there again.

  16. Terrye says:

    And Aj,

    If I remember correctly Curveball was giving us misinformation that Saddam had active programs and stockpiles. It could just as easily be argued that the 2005 NIE was based on the information of Iranian dissidents with their own agenda, and that is where the misinformation is.

    The point is the Iranians themselves can clear a lot of this up by complying with the UN and cooperating with the international community. If they have indeed stopped that program then there is no reason why they should continue to act stupid about the whole thing.

    But my guess is they have mothballed it and they know close scrutiny will show that.

  17. Dc says:

    Curveball was not a US asset. He was a german intelligence asset…not US. He didn’t trust US, and applied for asylum in Germany. The germans gave us the intel from curveball. US never had custody of him.