Thursday, September 14, 2006

Republicans and Misappropriated Intelligence, Part 2?

Another unsavory story about apparent Republican twisting of intelligence to support ideological goals - as many Bush administration critics claim occurred prior to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 – is making headlines. The Washington post reports that officials from the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency have angrily disputed some of the central conclusions in a report recently released by the U.S. Congress’s House Committee on Intelligence, which claims that Iran’s nuclear weapons program is more advanced than either the IAEA or U.S. intelligence agencies will admit. Democrats on the House committee reportedly did not contribute to the final draft of the report and characterize it as badly flawed. The Committee chairman, Republican Peter Hoekstra, has yet to respond to the IAEA’s criticism. However, when the Committee report came out last month Hoekstra announced that, “This report is aimed at providing information for the American people to use in understanding the very real threat our nation faces from Iran.” In recent months many conservatives have become increasingly impatient with the Bush administration’s continued support for diplomatic efforts to convince Iran to abandon the covert nuclear weapon program that everyone thinks it has. This report seems to be part of an ongoing effort to convince the American public of the need for - and to force the Bush administration to embrace – a tougher policy. This would presumably entail an immediate push at the U.N. Security Council for sanctions. If that were to fail, as might well be the case given Chinese and Russian reluctance to vote for sanctions in the Security Council, then conservatives would then either push for U.S. military action or support for an Israeli attack. However, proponents of this tougher line have yet to explain how the U.S. would carry out an effective attack on Iran, given that its military is already overcommitted in Iraq and Afghanistan and that Iran has been careful to hide, disperse and protect the various components of its program. The latter obstacle would also apply to an Israeli strike. Stay tuned for further developments....

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