Raw Story 12/05/2007

CNN: Seymour Hersh ‘vindicated’ by new Iran intel estimate

Reporter believes Cheney ‘kept his foot on the neck of’ report

Filed by David Edwards and Muriel Kane

A new National Intelligence Estimate released on Monday indicates that 16 US
intelligence agencies have concluded with a high level of confidence that
Iran has not had an active nuclear weapons program since 2003 and that even
if it resumed weapons development, it would be unlikely to obtain a nuclear
bomb in less than 5 to 10 years.

The NIE apparently came as a surprise to President Bush, who insisted at a
news conference the next day that “I was made aware of the NIE last week. In
August, I think it was, John – Mike McConnell – came in and said, ‘We have
some new information.’ He didn’t tell me what the information was. He did
tell me it was going to take a while to analyze.”

However, the NIE was no surprise to veteran investigative reporter Seymour
Hersh, who has been writing about it since November 2006. Hersh told CNN’s
Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday that he believes the White House deliberately kept
the NIE bottled up for over a year because the vice president was
dissatisfied with its conclusions.

“At the time I wrote that, there was a tremendous fight about it because
Cheney … did not want to hear this,” Hersh recalled. “I think the
vice-president has kept his foot on the neck of that report. … The
intelligence we learned about yesterday has been circulating inside this
government at the highest levels for the last year — and probably longer.”

As early as July 2006, Hersh had reported that the US military was resisting
administration pressure for a bombing campaign in Iran, because “American
and European intelligence agencies have not found specific evidence of
clandestine activities or hidden facilities.”

By November 2006, Hersh’s sources had told him of “a highly classified draft
assessment by the C.I.A.,” which concluded that satellite monitoring and
sophisticated radiation-detection devices planted near Iranian facilities
had turned up absolutely no evidence of a nuclear weapons program. However,
Bush and Cheney were expected to try to keep those conclusions out of the
forthcoming NIE on Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

As Hersh explained to Wolf Blitzer at the time, the White House was
attempting to counter the CIA assessment with an Israeli claim, based on a
“reliable agent,” that Iran was working on a trigger for a nuclear device.
“The CIA isn’t getting a good look at the Israeli intelligence.” Hersh
explained. “It’s the old word, stovepiping. It’s the President and the Vice
President, it’s pretty much being kept in the White House.”

RAW STORY’s Larisa Alexandrovna further reported in January 2007 that the
NIE on Iran was intended to be released later that month, but that John
Negroponte’s was being replaced as Director of National Intelligence because
he had refused to tailor the NIE to Vice President Cheney’s specificiations.

Despite feeling vindicated by the latest developments, Hersh warned Blitzer
that the White House push for war with Iran is “still not over. … There’s
always Israel.” He explained that “the Israelis were very upset about the
report. They think we’re naive.”

However, Hersh was confident that there was very little chance the NIE could
be mistaken, because “It’s been four years since we’ve had any positive
evidence of a parallel secret program to build a bomb — and we’ve been all
over the country.”

Hersh and Blitzer then recalled Hersh’s past appearances on CNN — including
several long interviews discussing the Abu Ghraib scandal — and how the
White House would regularly accuse him of using “anonymous sorces” or just
“throwing crap against the wall.”

Hersh concluded by emphasizing what a serious problem the NIE poses for
Bush. “It’s a lose-lose for them,” he stated. “The fight I’m talking about
began last year. … This is going to pose a serious credibility problem.
… That’s not what we pay the guy to do.”

However, Hersh’s sources tell him that despite the NIE, Bush’s negotiating
position is still that the Iranians “have to stop everything … destroy it.
… Inspectors have to come in that we pick. … He’s not saying that
publicly, but that’s the private standard.”

This video is from CNN’s Situation Room, broadcast on December 4, 2007:


[To see video, click on and go to the bottom of
the page.]

Robert S. Rodvik
Author/media analyst

“Everything faded into mist. The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became the truth.”
George Orwell – 1984

Posted in Uncategorized


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