Concerned about the objectivity and quality of the U.S. intelligence community's analysis of the Iranian nuclear weapons program, Peter Hoekstra, former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, is calling for a "red team" — an independent panel of experts — to review the intelligence related to Iran’s development of nuclear weapons and issue its own report that might be compared and contrasted with the latest National Intelligence Estimate issued jointly by 16 intelligence agencies.
Hoekstra, now a candidate for the U.S. Senate in Michigan, said that the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate on the threat from Iran has been proven to be “totally inaccurate and wrong.”
“Everybody perceived that the report said Iran had stopped its march toward developing a nuclear weapon,” said Hoekstra. “If you actually read the fine print, it said: No, they’re still doing the first couple of components — which is developing the uranium, the enriched uranium. They’re still doing the development of the technology to have a nuclear weapon. They’re just not doing the weaponization at this point.”
Hoekstra accuses intelligence agencies of factoring into the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate “a whole bunch of politics,” because some State Department staffers “wanted to diminish or create the perception that the threat from Iran was diminishing” out of a fear of what politicians might do if they knew of Iran’s real progress and intentions.
For whatever reason, Hoekstra said, the Bush administration was afraid to take on the “quote, unquote intelligence experts” by telling them to take the “political stuff” out of the document and stick to what the data showed.
An 2011 National Intelligence Estimate on Iran was a bit better, Hoekstra conceded, but still not good.
“The one thing that an intelligence community doesn’t want to do is they don’t want to admit that they’ve ever made a mistake,” said Hoekstra. “So what you’ll see is an evolution over a period of time. A 2007 National Intelligence Estimate — I think they know that it was a political document. Then they get to 2011 and they start walking it back. So they can still say: See, see the 2007 one was accurate, the 2011 one is accurate,... and then sometime in 2014, 2015, we’ll see another document that may actually be closer to reflecting what’s actually going on in Iran and they’ll say: See, we’ve been right for eight years, we’ve never been wrong. It’s what happens when intelligence becomes politicized.”
Hoekstra said it's important to recognize that on Iran, there’s a lot that we don’t know, but that we should have a good idea of where Iran is headed.
“The information that we keep getting from IAEA is, the march towards having the capability of a nuclear weapon continues and the only real question is: What’s the intention of the regime in terms of weaponization?”