John Bolton on the NIE: “Highly Politicized Document”

Since the NIE came out, I have argued that the unbridled glee demonstrated by many in the media (see Chris Matthews) was unwarranted and the uncritical coverage reflected the relief felt in the media that war was now averted. The NIE, inconclusive regarding even the very specific aspect of the Iranian nuclear project upon which it commented, becomes even more suspect when one considers who constructed it and what their motives were. John Bolton, in an interview with the Jerusalem Post, adamantly echoes this position.

The 2007 US National Intelligence Estimate, as well as the skewed reporting around it, is a sign of the “illegitimate politicization” of the American intelligence establishment, according to former US ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton.
The document reportedly said Iran stopped its nuclear weapons production program in 2003.

While “Iran’s nuclear program is continuing and expanding,” Bolton told The Jerusalem Post at a book-signing in a Tel Aviv Steimatzky on Sunday, “the NIE has had a devastating impact on our global efforts to try and constrain Iran.”

“I know the people who wrote this intelligence estimate,” Bolton continued. “They are not from our intelligence community. They’re from our State Department. It was a highly politicized document written by people who had a very clear policy objective.”

The former ambassador decried the lack of separation between “intelligence and policy.””Generating intelligence should be separated from policy-makers, but it should also be separated from intelligence analysts who impose their own policy views on the intelligence they generate,” insisted Bolton, who is in the country to attend the Herzliya Conference this week.

Furthermore, said Bolton, the NIE “doesn’t say what you probably think it says. Once you get past the first sentence or two, it doesn’t come out that different from the 2005 NIE. All of the attention was focused on the one finding that [Iran halted the weapons-building] aspect of the weapons program, even though later they say that they only have ‘moderate confidence’ that this suspension has continued. That’s a polite way of saying they don’t have a clue what the situation is.”

The document also defines the weapons program as “actual weaponization, that is, fabrication – only a tiny sliver of the total activity required for a country to have a nuclear weapons program. It still remains entirely within Iran’s discretion when and under what circumstances it proceeds to a nuclear weapons capability.”

The release of such a politicized report by those responsible for American intelligence analysis was possible, Bolton believes, because “there is still no effective supervision over the intelligence community. It’s been a problem for a long time. The [newly-established] director of national intelligence position didn’t solve it. So it remains and will be a significant challenge for the next president to get under control.”

Bolton calls the NIE “a quasi-coup by the intelligence services,” which was “intended to have a political and policy effect. I think that’s illegitimate [for] the bureaucracy [to have done]. In our system, constitutional legitimacy flows from the president, who was elected, through his officials. It’s not like a European system, where the foreign policy establishment really does develop foreign policy. Too much policy is developed by the bureaucracy independent of political control. It’s a longstanding cultural problem, and it will take a long time to fix it.”

8 Responses to John Bolton on the NIE: “Highly Politicized Document”

  1. [...] Augean Stables wrote an interesting post today on John Bolton on the NIE: "Highly Politicized Document"Here’s a quick excerpt#8220;the NIE has had a devastating impact on our global efforts to try and constrain Iran….The NIE, inconclusive regarding even the very specific aspect of the Iranian nuclear project upon which it commented, becomes even more suspect when one considers w…The document reportedly said Iran stopped its nuclear weapons production program in 2003…. [...]

  2. Abu Nudnik says:

    This is a problem gathering steam all over. Both Ezra Levant (the now defunct Western Standard) and Mark Steyn (Maclean’s magazine) have been hauled before the Canadian Human Rights Commission (100% conviction rate) to explain why they offended folks with their columns. Complainants need not prove damages, untruth or malice as in a civil court. Complainants’ lawyers are paid for by the court while defendants must pay their own way. The Commission can fine defendants without a trial of peers and force an apology. All over institutions are being illegitimately politicized and in this case perverted. When Gazetta, a Polish-Canadian newspaper printed anti-Semitic cartoons, they stopped when criticism became hot: in other words freedom of speech is for the speaker and critics alike. Here, in the Human Rights Commission, it is not the case. Clearly the commission needs to be fixed so that minimal standards of rules of evidence, proof of damages, proof of malice etcetera are enshrined in its workings.

    I cite this as just one more example of the perversion of institutions by political interference, as in Bolton’s criticism above.

  3. fp says:

    the commissions do not need to be fixed, they need to be eliminated.

    i don’t see any gathering of steam. instead i see western societies increasingly killing freedom of speech and essentially imposing sharia law in many aspects of life.

  4. Abu Nudnik says:

    Elimination is preferable to what presently exists (a 100% conviction rate!!!) but bureaucracies are self-protective, politicians afraid of the colours their their advocacy for elimination would paint them and the people of Canada are not onside at all. There is a comfortable self-congratulatory feeling folks get when contemplating warm and fuzzy institutions like the Commission. Most don’t look at the details where the devil lurks.

    The most we can hope for (and in my opinion the best – I’m not opposed to extra-judicial organizations per se but only those with rules less strict than those above them – think of the system of lower courts and their higher overseers) is to require proper rules of evidence, strict proof of wrong-doing, a proper judgement by peers and an ability to appeal. Also the lawyers must be paid on BOTH sides or NONE to make it fair. Proof of wrongdoing must be absolute, untruth and malice causing quantifiable damages proved, as in civil courts. The situation as it exists is outrageous – we agree on that.

  5. Abu Nudnik says:

    PS I was first warned when two women sued a corner store owner and his wife for carrying pornographic magazines. The BC Human Rights Commission took on the case and the defendants had to pay a fortune to defend themselves, money lost forever.

    So I need to add that plaintiffs and the Commission must be sue-able for damages by defendants who can appeal to independent courts OUTSIDE the Commissions. That should cause enough chill vs. chill to bring some justice.

  6. Abu Nudnik says:

    PS

    I should add that plaintiffs and the Commission must be sue-able for damages by defendants who can appeal to independent courts OUTSIDE the Commissions. That should cause enough chill vs. chill to bring some justice.

  7. fp says:

    why? why not use the current court system?

    why do we need self-appointed nobodies to pass judgment on our motives?

  8. Abu Nudnik says:

    Well, it was supposed to be a quick-fix for issues like housing; to beat back prejudicial hiring practises and so-forth – at which it has been a spectacular failure by the way – because the courts were clogged and many don’t have money for litigation.

    It’s a political problem fp. Anyone attacking the Commissions would be painted anti-Human Rights. That’s something few if any politicians would do. It’s one thing to say it but to do it’s another thing. It’s much more likely to tame the beast than kill it.

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