In the Arena

Neocon Counterattack on Iran Report

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Well, you had to figure this was coming. The Washington Post reports that the Senate Republicans–urged on by the usual neocon suspects–are going to try to discredit the National Intelligence Report on Iran. Danielle Pletka, the neocon La Pasionaria, offers this loathsome statement in an email:

“The problem is not the nature of the intelligence, it’s the nature of the presentation. This NIE was presented with a clear intention to deceive and to redirect foreign policy,” wrote Danielle Pletka, vice president for foreign and defense policy at the American Enterprise Institute, in an e-mail. “I have no doubt that these people believe they are protecting the nation from the President, but our constitution doesn’t contemplate the non-proliferation center at the ODNI [Office of the Director of National Intelligence] governing U.S. national security policy.”

As I reported in the Time cover story this week, the NIE was red-teamed by the CIA. The possibility of Iranian disinformation was found to be “plausible, but unlikely.” And here’s the most important point: After reading the classified report, including the red team findings, only 2 of the 16 intelligence agencies were sufficiently worried to rate the probability of Iran’s shutting down its weapons program “moderate” as opposed to “high.”

Finally, I am very grateful to Pletka for unwittingly reinforcing the point I’ve been trying to make all week about the importance of this NIE:

I have no doubt that these people believe they are protecting the nation from the President

Well, I’m not sure that was the intelligence community’s intent, but it certainly was the effect of the report. And a good thing it is, too.

Update: According to Kevin Drum, the poison is spreading and there is now a liberal line of dissent against the NIE. I think Ray Takeyh is a smart, if occasionally quirky, Iran analyst. But he, and the others who believe the uranium enrichment program is a problem, are staring at a twig and missing the forest: For the first time, in an incredible moment of candor, the intelligence community said to the American public: “What the President has been saying to you is wrong.”