Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

NIE Source -- A Laptop & Drinks With Rafsanjani?

Like Bryan @ Hot Air we, too, missed this story when it first ran on December 7th -- ironic, is it not? It seems that an old laptop computer and the word of Hashemi Rafsanjani and Hassan Rowhani. Oh, that just makes us feel a whole lot better about the authenticity of the NIE's findings:

The origin of the latest intelligence can be traced to the summer of 2004, when an Iranian man turned up in Turkey with a laptop computer and the phone number of a German intelligence officer. He called the number, and within 24 hours, analysts at CIA headquarters in Langley were poring over thousands of pages of drawings and information stored on the computer indicating that Iran had been trying to retrofit its longest-range missile, the Shahab III, to carry a nuclear payload. It was designated Project 1-11 and seemed to confirm a nuclear weapons program.

The information retrieved from the laptop formed the backbone of a National Intelligence Estimate issued in 2005 that declared "with high confidence" that Iran was working to build a bomb. Armed with that, the Bush administration spent the past two years pressing European allies,
Russia and China to sanction Iran if it did not give up its uranium enrichment program, despite Tehran's insistence that it was only for civilian energy.

With tension rising, Congress asked last year for a new NIE. Bush was pushing for more information as well during his deep-dive sessions. "We've got to get more information on Iran so we know what they're up to," one official paraphrased Bush saying.

As analysts scrambled to finish by April, they were reaching the conclusion that Iran was still a decade away from nuclear weapons, senior intelligence and administration officials said. For three years, the intelligence community had not obtained new information on Project 1-11, vexing administration officials who worried that a cold trail would lead to doubts about the reliability of the laptop's information. "They just wouldn't budge," complained one such official, who declined to be identified to speak candidly.

By June, analysts had an almost complete draft of a new NIE, and it provoked a sharp debate. "The less data you have, the more you argue," said a source familiar with the discussions. Some officials pressed the CIA's Iran desk to follow up on Project 1-11.
CIA Director Michael V. Hayden and National Security Agency Director Keith B. Alexander responded by directing vast manpower and technology toward spying on Iranians who may have been involved in the warhead effort.

With Bush pressing for more information, the intelligence community finally came up with something new -- a series of communications intercepts, including snippets of conversations between key Iranian officials, one of them a military officer whose name appeared on the laptop. Two sources said the Iranians complained that the nuclear weapons program had been shuttered four years earlier and argued about whether it would ever be restarted.

There had been clues for those willing to see them. For one thing, the laptop contained no new drawings on its hard drive after February 2003, said officials familiar with it. And during a dinner in Tehran with visiting American experts in 2005, Iranian leaders Hashemi Rafsanjani and Hassan Rowhani flatly declared that the country's nuclear weapons research had been halted because Iran felt it did not need the actual bombs, only the ability to show the world it could.

"Look, as long as we can enrich uranium and master the [nuclear] fuel cycle, we don't need anything else," Rafsanjani said at the dinner, according to George Perkovich of the
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "Our neighbors will be able to draw the proper conclusions."

The proper conclusions? How about the fact that we cannot trust the Iranians at their word. It has been broken several times over the course of decades of discussions. Yes, you read that correctly, I said decades. (Scroll to the bottom of that post where Thomas highlights the discussion between Mr. Hewitt and Mr. Rubin yesterday.)

At this point we have to question why anyone in their right mind would take what anyone from Iran says at face value? They have refused to end their enrichment program, which the UN and the West has asked them to do, nicely. We have slapped sanctions on them because they refuse to do this. They have played the same game Saddam Hussein did with the IAEA, and still thumb their noses at everyone. They are continuing their interference in Iraq, and they are still trying to meddle in the affairs of the Iraqi government despite direct negotiations with them where they promised to stop. Anything the Iranians say or agree to is not worth the wasted breath or the piece of paper they sign. To them all agreements are like ice cream -- easily melted.

We throw millions upon millions of dollars into our intelligence agencies every year, and the best these people can come up with is the word of a couple Iranian hardliners, and an ancient laptop? Give me a break.



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