by Ray McGovern
"While you can't judge a book by its cover, you can glean insight these days from the titles given to National Intelligence Estimates and papers meant to supplant them. Remember "Iraq's Continuing Program for Weapons of Mass Destruction," the infamous NIE of October 1, 2002, by which Congress was misled into approving an unnecessary war? "Continuing" leaped out of the title, foreshadowing the one-sided thrust of an estimate ostensibly commissioned to determine whether WMD programs were "continuing," or whether they had been dead for ten years. (The latter turned out to be the case, but the title – and the cooked insides – provided the scare needed to get Congress aboard.)
Now suddenly appears a pseudo-estimate titled "Recognizing Iran as a Strategic Threat: An Intelligence Challenge for the United States." To wit, the challenge set before the Intelligence Community is to get religion, climb aboard, and "recognize" Iran as a strategic threat. But alas, the community has not yet been fully purged of recalcitrant intelligence analysts who reject a "faith-based" approach to intelligence and hang back from the altar call to revealed truth. Hence, the statutory intelligence agencies cannot be counted on to come to politically correct conclusions regarding the strategic threat from Iran.
Hoekstra's release of this paper is another sign pointing in the direction of a US attack on Iran. Tehran is now being blamed not only for inciting Hezbollah but also for sending improvised explosive devices (IEDs) into Iraq to kill or maim US forces. There is yet another, if more subtle, disquieting note about the paper. It bears the earmarks of a rushed job, with very little editorial scrubbing. There are misplaced modifiers, and verbs often do not take enough care to agree in number with their nouns.
One wag suggested that the president may have taken a direct hand in the drafting. My guess is even more troubling. It seems to me possible that the Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal told Hoekstra to get the paper out sooner rather than later, as an aid to Americans in "recognizing Iran as a strategic threat.""