Why call it intelligence?

What have people been saying about the latest national intellgence estimate (NIE) on Iran?

  • Stupid Intelligence on Iran, By JAMES SCHLESINGER, December 19, 2007; Page A21, Wall Street Journal — Mr. Schlesinger is a former secretary of defense, secretary of energy and director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
  • Misreading the Iran Report: Why Spying and Policymaking Don’t Mix, By Henry A. Kissinger, Thursday, December 13, 2007; A35, The Washington Post — “In short, if my analysis is correct, we could be witnessing not a halt of the Iranian weapons program — as the NIE asserts — but a subtle, ultimately more dangerous, version of it that will phase in the warhead when fissile material production has matured.”
  • The Flaws In the Iran Report, By John R. Bolton, Thursday, December 6, 2007; Page A29, The Washington Post

The real news is that these kinds of doubts are nothing new. With the this many former US officials criticizing the latest NIE (Bolton, Kissigner, and now Schlesinger), I can’t help but recall the numerous times during the past 50 years that US intelligence community (IC) was off by +/- five years in predicting the timing of when foreign countries achieve nuclear capability. The NIEs provide a false sense of security in nuclear weapons issues because they are not good predictors — it’s extremely foolhardy to be making critical policy decisions that hinge upon NIEs or IC judgments/guesses. (there is a saying — you can’t prove you don’t have a sister.) see “The intelligence community fails” pages 13-16 of http://www.devabhaktuni.us/research/history-facts.pdf.

I suggest we rename the NIE to the “Natoinal Speculation Estimate.” Policy makers in congress and the white house can’t simply insulate themselves by relying on a national estimate like this. Instead, congress and the white house need to be immerse themselves in the details, incorporate the raw data into their thinking, and then go with their gut — just like a judge or jury does in a courtroom — because they are 100% responsibile for the future of the nation.

Also see “A Look Back Reveals Forward Thinking” that examines the predictions in the recently declassified 1974 national intelligence estimate “Prospects for Further Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.”

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