“Bush Insists Iran Remains a Threat” – Is he losing control?


Richard Moore

        "President Bush warned on Tuesday that Iran remained a threat
         despite an intelligence assessment that it had halted a
         covert program to develop nuclear weapons four years ago, as
         the administration struggled to save a diplomatic process
         now in disarray."

This is a very interesting situation. It is no surprise that the 
intelligence announcement has seriously disrupted the 'anti-Iran' 
campaign that Bush & Co. have been carrying out in the UN and 
bilaterally. Everyone who approved the release of the report, if they 
had any sense at all, certainly knew that would be the result.

My theory after yesterday's posting 
(http://cyberjournal.org/show_archives/?id=1357) was that a decision 
had been made not to invade Iran, and that the announcement was the 
beginning of a new policy and PR line. But now that we see Bush 
sticking with the old policy line, that theory falls apart, and the 
plot thickens considerably.

So what's going on here? If the White House approved the release of 
the report, then they were shooting their own anti-Iran campaign in 
the foot. Why would they do this? They certainly didn't hesitate to 
censor and manipulate intelligence reports in the lead up to their 
Iraq invasion. They could easily have blocked this report by 
declaring it 'classified, national security'.

And if the White House didn't approve the release, then we've got a 
real mystery on our hands. Did all the intelligence agencies get 
together, along with the NY Times, and decide to stab the White House 
in the back? That's a conspiracy theory I would be very skeptical 
about. In either case then, whether the White House did or did not 
approve the announcement, we end up with a scenario that doesn't make 
much sense.

At the moment, I can come up with only one theory that makes sense 
and is consistent with what these recent developments. I hope this 
theory lasts more than 24 hours! We'll see. If it turns out to be on 
the mark, then "You saw it here first". Here goes, in the form of a 
story line, and it involves not looking at the "White House" as a 
single entity...

         The 'men behind the curtain', the real decision makers, the
         money people -- and their inner circle of advisors -- have
         reached a decision that the Iran invasion plan should be
         abandoned. Presumably, such a decision also implies other
         changes in the neocon game plan as well. They then brought
         Cheney in, told him the news, and said he could either take
         the fall along with Bush, or he could play his cards as
         instructed. The guy has brains, need one guess his reply?
             Cheney then tracked down Bush, on the skeet shoot or
         wherever he hangs out, and said "We've got a problem; let's
         talk." He then led him down the garden path..."Here's the
         thing...this new report came out that we've got to release,
         otherwise someone will leak it and catch us with our pants
         down. But it's no problem, you'll be able to handle it.
         We'll play it down in the press, and then you can come out
         gangbusters, as you do so well, and explain how this doesn't
         really change anything. You can do it, boy!" "Whatever",

         says Bush,  "you can count on me to read the prompts as usual.

         But let's schedule the press briefing after 4, I've got a grudge

         golf game and a big bet on the line. Remind me later what the
         report's about."

That is to say, I'm predicting that Bush is being left out to dry, 
set up as the sacrificial lamb, a part that suits him all too well. 
Already half the nation and most of the world thinks he's a dangerous 
fool. If 'they' keep undermining him in the many ways they can, and 
simply encourage him to 'speak his own mind', he'll destroy himself 
soon enough. Then someone like Hillary can come in, repudiate (at 
least in rhetoric) some of the neocons' worst excesses, and everyone 
will think, "The system works after all, democracy is restored". 
Cheney? Perhaps he'll sidestep back to Halliburton, and spend his 
time in his money vault, Scrooge McDuck style.

Meanwhile we'll still have our five permanent mega-bases in Iraq, the 
Patriot Act, Homeland Security, lies about 9/11, an arms race with 
Russia and China, and our imperialist war machine will be turned on 
easier targets than Iran, such as Africa. See:

     "The Pentagon & the re-conquest of Africa"

Fanciful? Got a better theory? Let's see how things develop over the 
next few days or so...


Original source URL:

December 5, 2007

Bush Insists Iran Remains a Threat Despite Arms Data

WASHINGTON, Dec. 4 - President Bush warned on Tuesday that Iran 
remained a threat despite an intelligence assessment that it had 
halted a covert program to develop nuclear weapons four years ago, as 
the administration struggled to save a diplomatic process now in 

Once again facing criticism over the handling - and meaning - of 
intelligence reports, Mr. Bush said the new assessment underscored 
the need to intensify international efforts to prevent Iran from 
acquiring a nuclear weapon.

He said Iran could not be entrusted with acquiring even the 
scientific knowledge to enrich uranium for peaceful civilian use, 
explicitly declaring for the first time what has been an underlying 
premise of the administration's policy. He also appeared to rule out 
any new diplomatic initiative with the president of Iran, Mahmoud 

"Look, Iran was dangerous, Iran is dangerous, and Iran will be 
dangerous, if they have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear 
weapon," Mr. Bush said during a news conference dominated by 
questions about the fallout of the assessment, known as a National 
Intelligence Estimate. "What's to say they couldn't start another 
covert nuclear weapons program?"

The assessment reversed one in 2005 that asserted that Iran was 
"determined to develop nuclear weapons," with American intelligence 
agencies now saying that they do not know whether Iran intends to 
take that step.

Mr. Bush said the reversal was based on "a great discovery" by 
American intelligence agencies, but neither he nor other officials 
would elaborate. Current and former American and foreign officials 
said the new findings were based on intercepted communications and 
accounts provided by individuals with access to information about 
Iran's nuclear program.

Representative Jane Harman, a Democrat of California, said she read 
the classified version of the report on Tuesday and described the 
intelligence agencies' work as "a sea change" from the 2005 
assessment in the quality of its analysis and presentation of facts. 
Asked about the basis for the new findings, she said: "I think we 
have some better sourcing. That's all I can say."

Mr. Bush's remarks did little to silence critics, who have accused 
him of hyping the case for confronting Iran. Nor did it ease concerns 
of some allies.

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a Republican, said he was 
perplexed by the new assessment and suspicious of the new evidence. 
"We should all look under the hood of these intelligence reports," he 

Mr. Bush and his senior aides spent the day trying to hold together 
the already fragile coalition of world powers seeking to rein in 
Iran's nuclear ambitions. Mr. Bush telephoned President Vladimir V. 
Putin of Russia, who has voiced skepticism about an aggressive 
American effort to punish and isolate Iran.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also telephoned her counterparts 
from the five other countries that have been pursuing United Nations 
sanctions against Iran to urge that the coalition continue work on a 
new round of increasingly tighter sanctions.

"This report is not an 'O.K., everybody needs to relax and quit' 
report," Mr. Bush said. "This is a report that says what has happened 
in the past could be repeated and that the policies used to cause the 
regime to halt are effective policies. And let's keep them up. Let's 
continue to work together."

There were already signs that that effort had been complicated by the 
new report. R. Nicholas Burns, the under secretary of state for 
political affairs, held a teleconference call Tuesday morning with 
his counterparts from France, Germany, China, Britain and Russia.

"We're all flabbergasted," one European diplomat said of the report 
generally. "You get such a surprise, and then you sit together and 
consider how to move forward. To be on safe ground, we decided to 
keep moving forward" with the effort to press for further sanctions.

A senior administration official said the intelligence assessment on 
Iran was a setback in the effort to persuade China to endorse a new 
round of sanctions at the United Nations Security Council. While 
there had been indications over the weekend that the Chinese might 
drop their opposition to such a move, it appeared on Tuesday that 
they were reconsidering again, the official said.

The new intelligence assessment, the official said, "gives the 
Chinese an opportunity to get off the hook."

Mr. Bush opened himself to new criticism over his credibility when he 
said that the director of national intelligence, Mike McConnell, 
alerted him about new intelligence about Iran's weapons program in 
August but did not explain what it was in detail.

As recently as October, Mr. Bush continued to warn darkly of Iran's 
nuclear weapons threat, invoking World War III, despite the new 
information. He responded to a question about that on Tuesday by 
saying he had received the final assessment, with its drastically 
altered findings, only last week.

"That's not believable," said Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of 
Delaware, the Democrat who is chairman of the foreign relations 
committee and a candidate for president. "I refuse to believe that. 
If that's true, he has the most incompetent staff in American, modern 
American history and he's one of the most incompetent presidents in 
modern American history."

While many officials, lawmakers and diplomats focused on the halting 
of Iran's weapons program, Mr. Bush emphasized the report's finding 
that "a growing amount of intelligence indicates Iran was engaged in 
covert uranium conversion and uranium enrichment activity" from the 
late 1980s until the freezing of that effort in 2003. Mr. Bush's 
senior aides describe that as the first evidence of what many 
officials had only suspected.

"And so I view this report as a warning signal that they had the 
program," Mr. Bush said. "They halted the program. And the reason why 
it's a warning signal is that they could restart it."

Critics, though, blamed the administration's hard line and harsh 
language for compounding Iran's determination and undermining 
diplomatic efforts. They called on the administration to make a more 
concerted diplomatic effort to persuade Iran's government to abide by 
its commitments to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

"Their actions have been totally self-defeating," Mr. Biden said of 
the Bush administration. "Every time they rattle the saber, what 
happens is the security premium for oil goes up. It raises the price 
of oil. It puts more money in the pocket of Ahmadinejad and the very 
people we think are the bad guys."

Mr. Bush maintained that the administration had made offers to Iran 
as part of the European Union's diplomatic efforts as long ago as 
2003, including promising American support for membership in the 
World Trade Organization and an easing of sanctions to allow the sale 
of spare airplane parts.

"What changed was the change of leadership in Iran," he said, 
referring to the elections in Iran in 2005. "We had a diplomatic 
track going, and Ahmadinejad came along and took a different tone. 
And the Iranian people must understand that the tone and actions of 
their government are that which is isolating them."

Flynt Leverett, a Middle East expert at the New America Foundation 
who served on the National Security Council under Mr. Bush, said the 
president had consistently ruled out any real entreaty to Iran that 
could resolve the international deadlock over its nuclear ambitions.

"The really uncomfortable part for the administration, aside from the 
embarrassment, is the policy implication," Mr. Leverett said of the 
assessment. "The dirty secret is the administration has never put on 
the table an offer to negotiate with Iran the issues that would 
really matter: their own security, the legitimacy of the Islamic 
republic and Iran's place in the regional order."

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

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