Reprinted from NewsMax.com
U.S. Intel Possibly Duped by Iran
Tuesday, December 4, 2007 9:38 AM
By: Kenneth R. Timmerman
A highly controversial, 150 page National Intelligence Estimate
(NIE) on Iran’s nuclear programs was coordinated and written by former
State Department political and intelligence analysts — not by more
seasoned members of the U.S. intelligence community, Newsmax has
Its most dramatic conclusion — that Iran shut down its nuclear weapons
program in 2003 in response to international pressure — is based on a
single, unvetted source who provided information to a foreign
intelligence service and has not been interviewed directly by the
Newsmax sources in Tehran believe that Washington has fallen for “a
deliberate disinformation campaign” cooked up by the Revolutionary
Guards, who laundered fake information and fed it to the United States
through Revolutionary Guards intelligence officers posing as senior
diplomats in Europe.
The National Intelligence Council, which produced the NIE, is chaired
by Thomas Fingar, “a State Department intelligence analyst with no
known overseas experience who briefly headed the State Department’s
Bureau of Intelligence and Research,” I wrote in my book "Shadow
Warriors: The Untold Story of Traitors, Saboteurs, and the Party of
Surrender." [Editor's Note: Get "Shadow Warriors" free — go here now.]
Fingar was a key partner of Senate Democrats in their successful effort
to derail the confirmation of John Bolton in the spring of 2005 to
become the U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations.
As the head of the NIC, Fingar has gone out of his way to fire analysts
“who asked the wrong questions,” and who challenged the
politically-correct views held by Fingar and his former State
Department colleagues, as revealed in "Shadow Warriors."
In March 2007, Fingar fired his top Cuba and Venezuela analyst, Norman
Bailey, after he warned of the growing alliance between Castro and
Bailey’s departure from the Office of the Director of National
Intelligence (ODNI) was applauded by the Cuban government news service
Granma, who called Bailey “a patent relic of the Reagan regime.” And
Fingar was just one of a coterie of State Department officials brought
over to ODNI by the first director, career State Department official
Collaborating with Fingar on the Iran estimate, released on Monday,
were Kenneth Brill, the director of the National Counterproliferation
Center, and Vann H. Van Diepen, the National Intelligence officer for
Weapons of Mass Destruction and Proliferation.
“Van Diepen was an enormous problem,” a former colleague of his from
the State Department told me when I was fact gathering for "Shadow
“He was insubordinate, hated WMD sanctions, and strived not to
implement them,” even though it was his specific responsibility at
State to do so, the former colleague told me.
Kenneth Brill, also a career foreign service officer, had been the U.S.
representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna in
2003-2004 before he was forced into retirement.
"Shadow Warrior" reports, “While in Vienna, Brill consistently failed
to confront Iran once its clandestine nuclear weapons program was
exposed in February 2003, and had to be woken up with the bureaucratic
equivalent of a cattle prod to deliver a single speech condemning
Iran’s eighteen year history of nuclear cheating.”
Negroponte rehabilitated Brill and brought the man who single-handedly
failed to object to Iran’s nuclear weapons program and put him in
charge of counter-proliferation efforts for the entire intelligence
Christian Westermann, another favorite of Senate Democrats in the
Bolton confirmation hearings, was among the career State Department
analysts tapped by Fingar and Brill.
As a State Department intelligence analyst, Westermann had missed the
signs of biological weapons development in Cuba, and played into the
hands of Castro apologist Sen. Christopher Dodd, D, Conn., by
continuing to use impeached intelligence reports on Cuba that had been
written by self-avowed Cuban spy, Ana Belen Montes.
“After failing to recognize the signs of biological weapons development
in Cuba and Cuba’s cooperation with Iran, Westermann was promoted to
become national intelligence officer for biological weapons,” I wrote.
“Let’s hope a walk-in defector from Iranian intelligence doesn’t tell
us that Iran has given biological weapons to terrorists to attack new
York or Chicago,” I added, “because Westermann will certainly object
that the source of that information was not reliable — at least, until
Americans start dying.”
It now appears that this is very similar to what happened while the
intelligence community was preparing the Iran NIE.
My former colleague from the Washington Times, Bill Gertz, suggests in
today’s print edition of the paper that Revolutionary Guards Gen.
Alireza Asgari, who defected while in Turkey in February, was the human
source whose information led to the NIE”s conclusion that Iran had
stopped its nuclear weapons program in 2003.
But intelligence sources in Europe told Newsmax in late September that
Asgari’s debriefings on Iran’s nuclear weapons programs were “so
dramatic” that they caused French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his
foreign minister to speak out publicly about the threat of a
Sarkozy stunned his countrymen when he told an annual conference of
French ambassadors on Aug. 27, 2007, that Iran faced a stark choice
between shutting down its nuclear program, or tougher international
sanctions and ultimately, war.
“This approach is the only one that allows us to escape from a
catastrophic alternative: an Iranian bomb, or the bombing of Iran,”
Three weeks later, Foreign Minister Bernard Koucher warned in a
televised interview that the world’s major powers needed to toughen
sanctions on Iran to prevent Tehran from getting the bomb and to
prevent war. “We must prepare for the worst,” Kouchner said. “The
worst, sir, is war.”
Those comments were prompted by reports that were given to the French
president about Iran’s nuclear weapons program derived from debriefings
of the defector, Gen. Ashgari, a Newsmax intelligence source in Europe
Ashgari is the highest-level Iranian official to have defected to the
West since the Islamic revolution of 1979. His defection set off a
panic in Tehran.
As a senior member of the general staff of the Revolutionary Guards
Corps, Asgari had access to highly-classified intelligence information,
as well as strategic planning documents, as I reported at the time.
A damage assessment then underway in Tehran was expected to “take
months” to complete, so extensive was Asgari’s access to Iran’s nuclear
and intelligence secrets.
Asgari had detailed knowledge of Iranian Revolutionary Guards units
operating in Iraq and Lebanon because he had trained some of them. He
also knew some of the secrets of Iran’s nuclear weapons program,
because he had been a top procurement officer and a deputy minister of
defense in charge of logistics. But Asgari never had responsibility for
nuclear weapons development, and probably did not have access to
information about the status of the secret programs being run by the
Revolutionary Guards, Iranian sources tell Newsmax.
In an effort to cover up the failure of Iranian counter-intelligence to
prevent Asgari’s defection, a Persian language Web site run by the
former Revolutioanry Guards Comdr. Gen. Mohsen Rezai claimed in March
that Asgari was on a CIA “hit list” of 20 former Revolutionary Guards
officers and had been assassinated.
The Senate intelligence committee will be briefed today on the NIE, and
the House committee on Wednesday.
But already, the declassified summary has Republicans grumbling on
“We want to know why we should believe this,” one congressional
Republican told Newsmax. “This is such a departure from the past and
there are so many unanswered questions.”
While the intelligence community is supposed to report just the facts
and its assessment of those facts and their reliability to
policy-makers, this NIE clear advocates policy positions.
“Our assessment that the program probably was halted primarily in
response to international pressure suggests Iran may be more vulnerable
to influence on the issue that we judged previously,” the NIC wrote in
the declassified “Key Judgments” of the NIE.
The NIE opined that the new assessment leads to the policy conclusion
that the United States should offer “some combination of threats of
intensified international scrutiny and pressures, along with
opportunites,” in order to lock in Iranian good behavior.
This carrot and stick approach has been the State Department’s
preferred policy for the past 27 years, and has only strengthened the
resolve of Iran’s leaders to continue defying the United States. “Those
[countries that] assume that decaying methods such as psychological
war, political propaganda and the so-called economic sanctions would
work and prevent Iran's fast drive toward progress are mistaken,"
Ahmadinejad said in Tehran in September at a military parade.
By “progress” Ahmadinejad was referring to Iran’s recently-declared
success at enriching uranium.
Democrats on the House and Senate intelligence committees “have been
running around with big smiles on their faces,” a Republican source
Republicans on the committees intend to ask for more information on the
sourcing of this latest NIE during closed door briefings today and
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