As former Vice Chairman of the National Intelligence Council and AT contributor Herbert E. Meyer suggested, Congressional conservatives are demanding an investigation of the NIE report. While Herb suggested Intelligence Committee members review the underlying classified report on which the findings were based, the current effort seeks a broader inquiry. Robin Wright and Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post report:
Senate Republicans are planning to call for a congressional commission to investigate the conclusions of the new National Intelligence Estimate on Iran as well as the specific intelligence that went into it, according to congressional sources.
The move is the first official challenge, but it comes amid growing backlash from conservatives and neoconservatives unhappy about the assessment that Iran halted a clandestine nuclear weapons program four years ago. It reflects how quickly the NIE has become politicized, with critics even going after the analysts who wrote it, and shows a split among Republicans.
Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) said he plans to introduce legislation next week to establish a commission modeled on a congressionally mandated group that probed a disputed 1995 intelligence estimate on the emerging missile threat to the United States over the next 15 years.
"Iran is one of the greatest threats in the world today. Getting the intelligence right is absolutely critical, not only on Iran's capability but its intent. So now there is a huge question raised, and instead of politicizing that report, let's have a fresh set of eyes -- objective, yes -- look at it," he said in an interview.
Ensign's proposal calls for Senate leaders to put an equal number of Republicans and Democrats on a panel to study the NIE and report back in six months. "There are a lot of people out there who do question [the NIE]. There is a huge difference between the 2005 and 2007 estimates," he said. The 2005 intelligence estimate reported that Iran was still working on a clandestine military program, and the new assessment basically says the previous judgment was wrong on a key point.
Hat tip: Ruth King and Richard Baehr