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September 30, 2009
Where are the Three Stooges who wrote the 2007 NIE on Iran?
Back in 2007, the National Intelligence Estimate was released which all but absolved Iran of suspicions that it was on course to develop nuclear weapons. Rich Lowry writes
In November 2007, US intelligence agencies wrote a National Intelligence Estimate concluding, "We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program." . .
The report was widely criticized by even the Europeans. Nevertheless, it gave cover to liberals - including Barack Obama - to downplay the threat from Iran. Now we know that the "secret" enrichment plant at Qom was already known by the intelligence community when the 2007 report was drafted. The report never made mention of that plant, nor seemed to give it any import in the conclusions. The NIE was also criticized as being a hyper-partisan document whose drafting was done by three men who opposed a firm stance towards Iran and had an axe to grind - not with Iran-but with George Bush.
The unholy three were outed by the Wall Street Journal back in 2007:
Our own "confidence" is not heightened by the fact that the NIE's main authors include three former State Department officials with previous reputations as "hyper-partisan anti-Bush officials," according to an intelligence source. They are Tom Fingar, formerly of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research; Vann Van Diepen, the National Intelligence Officer for WMD; and Kenneth Brill, the former U.S. Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Additionally, Brill's work as the US Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (the feckless group that has averted its eyes - and worse - from Iran, Syrian and North Korean proliferation efforts) was disparaged by no less than Richard Armitage who characterized it as bullshit.
What happened to the three stooges?
Well, it is government work so they have been rewarded for their failure. Nothing succeeds like failure in this topsy-turvy world.
Van Diepen has moved up in the administration of Barack Obama:
Vann H. Van Diepen has been Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation (ISN) since June 2009. From February 2006 to June 2009, he was National Intelligence Officer for Weapons of Mass Destruction and Proliferation in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, advising the Director on those issues, serving as the Intelligence Community (IC) spokesman on them and producing National Intelligence Estimates and other IC analyses.
Ken Brill has also done well for himself - if not in the real world. He heads this government group in the Obama administration:
The National Counterproliferation Center (NCPC) is the primary organization within the U.S. Intelligence Community for combating the spread of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems.
Did he suddenly find competence? Count me skeptical.
So we have two of the three playing key roles in the government and who are responsible for preventing the spread of nuclear weapons-because...why? They certainly failed big time in 2007 - grievously so. Now the world has to live with the consequences of their failure.
The third drafter of the NIE was Tom Fingar who parachuted out of Washington into a job at Stanford. He will at least do less immediate damage there but he did do some further damage (a parting shot?) right before he left office. He was the official responsible for briefing Barack Obama regarding future global risks before Obama assumed office. We don't know what Fingar had to say to Obama but his report was previewed in a speech Fingar, the "U.S. intelligence community's top analyst" gave late last year.
Fingar is a man who sees America on the decline:
The U.S. will remain the preeminent power, but that American dominance will be much diminished," Fingar said, according to a transcript of the Thursday speech. He saw U.S. leadership eroding "at an accelerating pace" in "political, economic and arguably, cultural arenas."He also counseled against sanctions on Iran's energy industry and thinks they would be counterproductive:
Energy security will also become a major issue as India, China and other countries join the United States in seeking oil, gas and other sources for electricity. The Chinese get a good portion of their oil from Iran, as do many U.S. allies in Europe, limiting U.S. options on Iran. "So the turn-the-spigot-off kind of thing -- even if we could do it -- would be counterproductive."
His survey barely touched on the topic of terrorism and maintained his belief that there was no evidence that Iran has resumed work building a weapon and said that their decision whether to build such weapons depended on how its leaders viewed their security requirement.
In other words, he did not see the Iranian regime as a terror supporting state that was religiously inspired, headed by leaders that view an apocalypse as a destiny that they are obliged to spark to bring about the return of the Missing Imam. He did not touch upon their promise to destroy Israel. He did not review their drive for hegemonic power in the region.
And this was the man the Washington Post characterized as the nation's leading intelligence analyst and the man who briefed Obama before he assumed office.
The three stooges.