In an article this morning titled “NIE authors accused of partisan politics,” the Washington Times’ Jon Ward attempts to undermine the credibility of the intelligence community’s recent assessment that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003. Ward’s article consists of ad hominen attacks from unnamed “officials” who claim the new NIE is just “a politically motivated document written by anti-Bush former State Department officials.”
“One has to look at the agendas of the primary movers of this report, to judge how much it can really be banked on,” said David Wurmser, a former Middle East adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, who has worked with the report authors.
Ward’s article is disingenuous in many respects. Ward asserts that there were “three former State officials primarily responsible” for the report. But, as Slate’s Fred Kaplan pointed out yesterday when asked about this canard, “the NIE is not ‘a team of three in the State Department.’ It’s the product of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies.”
Additionally, Wurmser and his fellow anonymous critics are contradicted by an ideological fellow traveler in the administration who, unlike them, has actually seen the full report: Vice President Dick Cheney. Cheney told the Politico that he doesn’t “have any reason to question” the report:
Q Sir, did you believe the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Did I believe it?
Q Yes, do you believe the new one that’s out — or is there a reason to question those conclusions?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I don’t have any reason to question the — what the community has produced, with respect to the NIE on Iran. Now, there are things they don’t know. There are always — there’s always the possibility that the circumstances will change. But I think they’ve done the best job they can with the intelligence that’s available to give us their best judgment on those issues.
Wurmser and other hawks have been rushing to discredit the NIE, but it’s clear they’re grasping at straws when even Dick Cheney won’t go along with their character assassinations and conspiracy theories.