IRAN’S BOMB PROGRAM….The newly declassified version of the NIE’s key judgments on Iran’s nuclear program is here. An excerpt:

We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program; we also assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Tehran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons.

….We assess with high confidence that until fall 2003, Iranian military entities were working under government direction to develop nuclear weapons. We judge with high confidence that the halt lasted at least several years….We assess with moderate confidence Tehran had not restarted its nuclear weapons program as of mid-2007….Tehran’s decision to halt its nuclear weapons program suggests it is less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005.

There are all the usual caveats you’d expect, since the intelligence community can never be entirely sure of its conclusions in a case like this. But still, this is a bombshell. This isn’t just an NIE with a few dissenting footnotes, it’s an NIE whose primary conclusion is that Iran hasn’t been seriously working on a nuclear weapon for the past four years, and furthermore, that if it starts back up again it’s highly unlikely to succeed until 2010-2015 at the earliest.

I commend to your attention, once again, this report from Gareth Porter dated November 8:

A National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran has been held up for more than a year in an effort to force the intelligence community to remove dissenting judgments on the Iranian nuclear programme, and thus make the document more supportive of U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney’s militarily aggressive policy toward Iran, according to accounts of the process provided by participants to two former Central Intelligence Agency officers.

But this pressure on intelligence analysts, obviously instigated by Cheney himself, has not produced a draft estimate without those dissenting views, these sources say. The White House has now apparently decided to release the unsatisfactory draft NIE, but without making its key findings public.

I guess Cheney finally lost his turf battle on this one. But I’d sure like to hear more about it, especially since Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell confirmed on November 14 that he had no plans to publicly release any part of this NIE because “to do so could expose U.S. intelligence capabilities and enable Iran to change its practices.” I wonder who pushed back? Who’s got the juice?

Well, maybe it’ll all come out at Cheney’s impeachment proceedings. Stay tuned.

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