Wednesday, December 5, 2007

What Did Bush Know on Iran, and When Did He Know It?

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

"....AMY GOODMAN: According to the Washington Post, intelligence officials began briefing senior members of the Bush administration on parts of the new NIE as early as July.

Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specializing in US national security policy. In October, he broke the story that the NIE on Iran had been held up for more than a year as part of an effort by Vice President Dick Cheney. Gareth Porter joins me now from Washington, D.C. Welcome to Democracy Now!.

GARETH PORTER: Good morning, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: So, explain what you understand the Bush administration understood.

GARETH PORTER: Well, I think it’s clear that the intelligence community had found something very different with regard to the Iranian nuclear program much earlier than this fall. It’s very clear that it was at least last spring when they began to work on a very different conclusion about an Iranian nuclear weapons program, which said that Iran had in fact given that idea up. And it’s not clear, actually, whether this conclusion was being developed, in fact, in some form the previous fall.

My story, based on a couple of sources who were in touch with people participating in the NIE process, said that the NIE had in fact been prepared—NIE on Iran had been prepared as of last fall, was ready to be published and was held up by the White House for political reasons. That is to say, it was not regarded as acceptable, and they wanted them to continue working on it. Now, some of that may well have been at some point during 2007, that there was new information coming in which caused the intelligence community to say, well, let’s strengthen the finding, let’s strengthen our conclusions further. But it’s very clear that a large part of the holdup in this NIE process was indeed the White House and certainly was Dick Cheney personally who was intervening in this, saying that we want you to go back to the drawing board and look at this again, because we don’t think that your conclusion that Iran gave up a nuclear weapons weaponization program makes sense........"

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