Alarmist editorializing about Iran, its regional influence, and its nuclear energy program have picked up considerably in the past few weeks. Despite the latest IAEA report this past Spring which revealed
of an Iranian nuclear weapons program, a hefty Sy Hersh article
confirming that all 16 American intelligence agencies still stand by their 2007 assessment that Iran has no nuclear weapons program, and the potential
for a large-scale U.S. withdrawal
from Iraq at the end of the year, career fear-mongers have been hard at work trying to raise the Iranian threat level from mild khaki to frantic crimson.
An opinion piece published last night in the Wall Street Journal
is a perfect example of the heightened hysteria. The article, entitled "America's Intelligence Denial on Iran
", was written by former CIA agent Fred Fleitz
, a neoconservative Bomb Iran-er who served as John Bolton's State Department chief of staff and is currently a columnist for the right-wing outlet Newsmax
Fleitz is intent on discrediting the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which has repeatedly found that Iran's nuclear program is, at best, totally benign and, at worst, not an imminent threat to anyone. He leads with this:
Mounting evidence over the last few years has convinced most experts that Iran has an active program to develop and construct nuclear weapons. Amazingly, however, these experts do not include the leaders of the U.S. intelligence community. They are unwilling to conduct a proper assessment of the Iranian nuclear issue - and so they remain at variance with the Obama White House, U.S. allies, and even the United Nations.
Fleitz writes that, "according to the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control," Iran currently has enough "low-enriched uranium" for "four nuclear weapons if enriched to weapons grade" and repeats the propaganda line about "an item recently posted to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps website [which] mused about the day after an Iranian nuclear test (saying, in a kind of taunt, that it would be a 'normal day')." Fleitz claims that the "message marked the first time any official Iranian comment suggested the country's nuclear program is not entirely peaceful."
Beyond demonstrating a severe lack of understanding about what the IAEA has actually reported and his willful omission of the huge difference
between low-enriched uranium and weapons grade material, Fleitz tips his hand by relying on the over-hyped "Nuclear Test" post
on the Iranian Gerdab
website last month for his nuclear scare propaganda.
Fleitz writes that the latest NIE assessment is just as "politicized" and "poorly written" as its 2007 predecessor and similarly downplays the "true account of the Iranian threat" due to what Fleitz claims is the U.S. intelligence community's apparent aversion to providing "provocative analytic conclusions, and any analysis that could be used to justify military action against rogue states like Iran [sic]." He accuses the 2011 NIE of "poorly structured arguments and cavalier manipulation of intelligence", all the while boasting of his own objections, which he says were routinely ignored and rebuffed by the report's supervisors. He lays blame on what he determines is the NIE's reliance on "former senior intelligence officers, liberal professors and scholars from liberal think tanks."
It is unacceptable that Iran is on the brink of testing a nuclear weapon while our intelligence analysts continue to deny that an Iranian nuclear weapons program exists. One can't underestimate the dangers posed to our country by a U.S. intelligence community that is unable to provide timely and objective analysis of such major threats to U.S. national security - or to make appropriate adjustments when it is proven wrong.
If U.S. intelligence agencies cannot or will not get this one right, what else are they missing?
Reading this, one might be forgiven for wondering why, rather than merely attacking the credentials of NIE sources, Fleitz doesn't introduce any evidence for his declaration that "Iran is on the brink of testing a nuclear weapon." Oh right, never mind
This sort of "analysis" from Fleitz is far from unexpected. Back in August 2006, Fleitz - then a House Intelligence Committee staffer - was the primary author of a Congressional report entitled, "Recognizing Iran as a Strategic Threat: An Intelligence Challenge for the United States
", which served as a veritable catalog of false assertions about Iran's nuclear program and, just like his Wall Street Journal
piece, assailed the U.S. intelligence community for not sufficiently fear-mongering about the so-called Iranian threat. Among other exaggerations and outright lies, the report accused Iran of "enriching uranium to weapons grade" and stated that the IAEA had removed a senior safeguards inspector from Iran for "allegedly raising concerns about Iranian deception regarding its nuclear program and concluding that the purposed of Iran's nuclear programme is to construct weapons" and for "not having adhered to an unstated IAEA policy baring IAEA officials from telling the whole truth about the Iranian nuclear program."
The report contained so many misrepresentations and false allegations regarding the Iranian nuclear program, in fact, that the IAEA's Director of External Relations and Policy Coordination Vilmos Cserveny wrote a letter
to the Chairman of House Committee, Peter Hoekstra (R-MI), challenging
the report's "incorrect" assertions and criticizing it for promoting "erroneous, misleading and unsubstantiated information."
Additionally, Cserveny described
Fleitz's accusations about the safeguards inspector as "outrageous and dishonest" and noted that "Iran has accepted the designation of more than 200 Agency safeguards inspectors, which number is similar to that accepted by the majority of non-nuclear-weapon States that have concluded safeguards agreements pursuant to the NPT."
It appears that, five years later, Fleitz still chooses fantasy over facts.