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Shifting Currents: Changes in National Intelligence Estimates on the Iran
Nuclear Threat
Sarah E. Kreps

Online Publication Date: 01 October 2008

To cite this Article Kreps, Sarah E.(2008)'Shifting Currents: Changes in National Intelligence Estimates on the Iran Nuclear

Threat',Intelligence and National Security,23:5,608 — 628
To link to this Article: DOI: 10.1080/02684520802449484
URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02684520802449484

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Shifting Currents: Changes in National
Intelligence Estimates on the Iran Nuclear
Threat

Downloaded By: [Naval Postgradute School] At: 19:10 5 November 2008

SARAH E. KREPS

Lost in the political fallout of the Iran National Intelligence Estimate
(NIE) of 2007 was any discussion about historical parallels and what
those might say about intersection between intelligence, policy, and
politics. This article argues that the NIEs on the ballistic missile threat
of the 1990s offer a useful analogy. In a short period of time, the NIE’s
assessment of the threat from so-called ‘rogue states’ went from
modest to non-existent, provoking charges of politicization, eliciting
investigations, and pausing the US missile defense program. A similar
sequence of events followed the NIEs on Iran, whose tenor appeared to
shift from alarmist in 2005 to dismissive in 2007. If the experience
of the ballistic missile NIEs is any guide, then it is not clear that
the ‘cure’ – investigations and commissions – are better than the
disease. Both cases illustrate the need for the intelligence community to
remain detached but not unaware of the policy environment into which
these estimates are introduced. They also reaffirm that estimates are
just estimates, probabilistic rather than deterministic judgments about
future events.

The 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran set off a firestorm of
responses across the political spectrum. For some conservatives, the response
bordered on vitriolic. Former US Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton chided
that ‘Too much of the intelligence community is engaging in policy
formulation rather than ‘‘intelligence’’ analysis, and too many in Congress
and the media are happy about it.’1 From the other side of the aisle, Senator
Hillary Clinton was quick to point out that ‘the new declassified key
judgments of the Iran NIE expose the latest effort by the Bush administration
to distort intelligence to pursue its ideological ends’.2 Among the few points
of consensus was that the tone of the 2007 assessment appeared to back off

Intelligence and National Security, Vol.23, No.5, October 2008, pp.608–628
ISSN 0268-4527 print 1743-9019 online
DOI: 10.1080/02684520802449484 ª 2008 Taylor & Francis

including the series of investigations that followed the 1995 NIE and have been recommended following the recent 2007 NIE on Iran. the 1995 NIE essentially dismissed the possibility. and the challenges attendant to . the Commissions that followed.Downloaded By: [Naval Postgradute School] At: 19:10 5 November 2008 NIES ON THE IRAN NUCLEAR THREAT 609 notably from that of the more alarmist 2005 which concluded that ‘left to its own devices. an assertion that seemed so divergent from its predecessor that it triggered a series of investigations on the question of politicization and ‘independent’ assessments of the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) threat to the US. The NIEs on Iran can perhaps therefore draw some lessons from those earlier NIEs. incorporating new information and sources and allowing them to affect the NIE product? What do the investigations that ensued after the ballistic missile NIE say about whether similar investigations might be a fruitful exercise for understanding the apparent shift in the recent NIE? By way of offering procedural and historical context for NIE production.4 The Rumsfeld Commission chided the earlier estimate for a thin methodology that was unable to take full stock of emerging threats. . But is it also plausible that the changes to these two estimates are examples of good intelligence analysis. Two other investigations were more critical. possible ways to address politicization of intelligence. charges of politicization on both sides of the political aisle seemed plausible in the Iran NIE – as they were in the ballistic missile NIEs – because of the appearance of dramatic changes to the NIE’s conclusions within a short period of time. including lessons for producers of intelligence estimates.5 North Korea’s test firing of a missile appeared to confirm these more hawkish prognostications and plans for cutting missile defense were shelved. the Commission found that states other than declared nuclear powers could field an ICBM ‘with little or no warning’ and posed a growing near-term threat to the US. and the policy implications for those changes. Iran is determined to build nuclear weapons’. The article closes by drawing inferences from those cases. this analysis begins by discussing the NIE process and how estimating threats has changed over time. The General Accounting Office found that the 1995 NIE ‘overstated the certainty of its key judgments .3 The contention and apparent reversal surrounding the 2007 NIE finds a remarkable parallel in a series of NIEs conducted on the ballistic missile threat in the 1990s. The Gates Panel found methodological flaws though no evidence of politicization. caveats and intelligence gaps noted in the NIE do not support this level of certainty’. and their impacts on the policy process. . how those estimates appeared to shift over a two year period. comprehensive methodology. At first glance. Whereas the 1993 NIE left open the door of a ballistic missile threat to the US. It then outlines both cases – the ballistic missile threat NIEs of the 1990s and the Iran NIEs of 2005 and 2007 – including the contents of those estimates. With its revised. It then addresses the political fallout from these NIEs.

since estimating is based on incomplete information. comprised of senior representatives from the intelligence community and chaired by the DNI. It is the result of coordinated judgments within the Intelligence Community and represents the ‘the most authoritative written judgments on national security issues’.610 INTELLIGENCE AND NATIONAL SECURITY estimating threats. and Africa. assesses the probability of a future course of action for an issue of importance to US national security policy. It then goes out to community peers before a final draft and then review and approval by the National Intelligence Board. fact. Sherman Kent. the community reviews the estimate line by line for content. As the study of these cases makes clear.8 The estimating process starts with an NIE request from the executive branch. and wording. or military commander.6 Downloaded By: [Naval Postgradute School] At: 19:10 5 November 2008 THE PROCESS OF NIE PRODUCTION Former director of the Office of National Estimates (ONE). with the intention of informing civilian and military leaders on appropriate national security policy.9 and Presidents John F. many NIEs were related to the Soviet threat. or indirectly as related to their influence in Eastern Europe. and the NIC assembles the terms of reference that set the parameters of the NIE. Congress. the State Department requested NIEs on communism and proxy-related issues during the Cold War. At an interagency coordination session.11 NIEs range in subject from the strategic – Soviet intercontinental missile capacity assessments during the Cold War – to the tactical – the degree of political stability in Mozambique – to the economic – implications of Mexican financial instability. The process takes anywhere from two to three weeks for a ‘fast track’ NIE to several months for a typical NIE. with the objective of generating a consensus outcome.12 During the Cold War. More recent estimates have been dominated by . four members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence requested the 2002 Iraq NIE. replaced by the National Intelligence Council (NIC) in 1973. or one that is marked by minor points of dissent in footnotes. For example. with the National Intelligence Officers preparing an initial draft to be sent across the intelligence community for coordination. analysis.7 The NIE. comment. whether directly based on their arsenal of weapons. and critique.10 The Director of National Intelligence (DNI) then authorizes the request. Latin America. produced by what was once the ONE. wrote that ‘estimating is what you do when you do not know’. Johnson and their Defense Departments requested estimates on Southeast Asia surrounding the war in Vietnam. Kennedy and Lyndon B. it is therefore ‘inherent in a great many situations that after reading the estimate you still do not know’ the likely course of future threats.

saying that he had to ‘fight his way through ‘‘Talmudic’’ documents to find their real . the office would produce NIEs. discovered dysfunction.Downloaded By: [Naval Postgradute School] At: 19:10 5 November 2008 NIES ON THE IRAN NUCLEAR THREAT 611 weapons of mass destruction (WMD) development and state sponsors of terrorism. Rear Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoetter. rather than a three in four chance. even ‘unwelcome substantive intelligence judgments’. for example.14 Ideally. and recommended reform within the CIA. the newly reorganized intelligence community had come under harsh scrutiny by the 1948 Dulles–Jackson–Correa Committee that had assessed performance at the Central Intelligence Agency. intended to be an interagency coordination of all intelligence organizations and producer of objective. the NIEs tend to hedge against the uncertainty by including qualifying or probabilistic language.15 THE NIE’S CHECKERED PAST NIEs are not as old as the intelligence community itself. the terms are most often not deterministic. Just two years before. In assessing the probabilities of a particular outcome. with Lieutenant General Walter Bedell Smith – and a full mandate to overhaul the agency. however. until North Korea’s invasion galvanized political support. The decision to produce NIEs resulted from what was seen as the egregious failure to anticipate North Korea’s 1950 invasion of the South. NIEs would also include some quantified estimate in the form of numerical percentages. the NIE may indicate that a particular event is ‘highly unlikely’ or that the agencies can assess the likelihood with some degree of confidence.18 Perhaps an improvement over the absence of a coordinated assessment.16 One notable effect of the reforms was the replacement of the Office of Reports and Estimates. intelligence estimates existed but not as a coordinated set of judgments that brought to bear the views of all US intelligence organizations in a coherent fashion. Reform took the form of punitive replacements – President Truman replaced the previous Director of Central Intelligence. Whereas terms such as ‘unlikely’ or ‘remote’ suggest a less than even chance and ‘probably’ or ‘almost certainly’ indicate a greater than even chance. National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger dismissed the product. with the Office of National Estimates. Beginning in 1950. the previous analytical arm of the agency. since assessments are based on subjective and incomplete information that may cloud the estimate’s certainty.17 Until that time. Scant reform followed. ONE’s intelligence products came to be viewed as flawed documents. but admittedly such an approach is controversial because of the uncertainty involved in assessing why a particular outcome would have a one in two chance.13 Since they are based on incomplete information.

which the Team B hawks argued pointed in the direction of failed deterrence. and DCI Stansfield Turner criticizing the ‘quality of our political intelligence’.26 .25 but the unintended consequence of that reform was a more ad hoc. which proved to be ineffective in predicting the fall of the Shah in 1979. as the team of outside experts brought their own set of decidedly hawkish biases that ultimately appeared to politicize the original Team A (CIA Analysts) estimates. the Soviet Union is nevertheless preparing for a Third World War as if it were unavoidable’. bureaucratically fractured.24 In part because of the debacle surrounding the 1976 Team B exercise. The dynamic played out in NIE-11-76 on Soviet strategic objectives. bombers.22 The whole process became marred by controversy surrounding the objectivity of Team B’s analysis and provided an early precedent for charges of politicized intelligence. economic development. the Carter Administration sidelined Team B competitive analysis. and less authoritative set of judgments. George H. and an inevitable nuclear war.23 Later investigation of the Team B findings showed that the conclusions ‘were wildly off the mark’ and ‘gross exaggerations’ by making worst case assumptions about Soviet intentions. using ‘Team B’ or ‘red teaming’ that would produce alternative views for a given threat estimate.W. In one passage.21 The Senate Intelligence Committee which later evaluated the competitive analysis process found that the team was ‘so structured that the outcome was predetermined and the experiment’s contribution lessened’. NSA Zbigniew Brzezinski. An absence of coordinated assessments on contemporary threats prompted President Jimmy Carter to write a note to Secretary of State Cyrus Vance. meaning that the Team B was so clearly set on locating an outcome consistent with its anti-de´tente preferences that its assessment was not taken as legitimate or serious.19 As the new DCI in November 1975. He then dismissed ONE altogether and produced estimates from within the National Security Council.Downloaded By: [Naval Postgradute School] At: 19:10 5 November 2008 612 INTELLIGENCE AND NATIONAL SECURITY meaning’. vast production of Soviet strategic capability. Bush introduced competitive analysis.20 Team B argued that estimators had vastly underestimated Soviet capabilities by ‘mirror imaging’ US beliefs about mutual assured destruction rather than considering knowledge of the ‘Russian soul’ and history. particularly regarding Iran. the Team B report indicated Soviet intentions to ‘crush the capitalist realm by other than military means. and intentions and that ‘the Soviet leadership seems to have concluded that nuclear war could be fought and won’. competitive analysis became a lesson in unintended consequences. concluding that the Soviet threat was considerably more advanced along the key parameters of missiles. The Team B product was far more alarmist than the original estimate. Though a solid idea in principle.

Thus. the article now turns to two case studies that analyze in greater detail the process.’30 In addition to having the political motivation to undertake an ICBM program. and still others are affected by cognitive biases that interfere with the objectivity of the estimate. The end of the Cold War brought calls for restructuring of the intelligence community with a greater focus on open source information. Far from deterministic.27 As the preceding overview shows. non-NATO countries. Iraq. guidance and control systems.29 The product – Prospects for the Worldwide Development of Ballistic Missile Threats to the Continental United States (NIE 93-17) – was cautious on the prospects for US security: ‘No evidence exists that any of the countries examined in this study are developing missiles – especially ICBMs – for the purpose of attacking CONUS. Iraq. and politics of estimating. though it . Against this backdrop.Downloaded By: [Naval Postgradute School] At: 19:10 5 November 2008 NIES ON THE IRAN NUCLEAR THREAT 613 Estimates through the end of the Cold War mainly focused on the Soviet strategic forces and bounced between the hawk–dove dialectic that had characterized most internal debates during the Cold War. reentry vehicles (RVs). the NIE also found that Iran. estimates are intended to suggest the likely course of future events and their implications for US foreign. and nuclear. the estimating process is fraught with uncertainties. THE BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT OF THE 1990S One of the first significant NIEs to follow the end of the Cold War was an estimate of the ballistic missile threat from states other than the Soviet Union.28 Outcomes are the product of future capabilities and intentions.’ The possibility of ICBM development over the following years remained open. including economic or religious conflict. or biological weapon warheads’. but many estimates conflate the two. chemical. At issue was whether former Warsaw Pact countries. pitfalls. ‘Iran. Estimates were based on countries’ political and economic health. human sources in new areas of interest – the argument being that high profile failures such as not anticipating the 1998 Indian nuclear test resulted from not having spies on the ground – and greater attention to new and emerging threats. and national security policy. and North Korea had the indigenous technical capability to produce an ICBM within 10 to 15 years of the time they decided to pursue development. as well as their ‘technical capabilities to indigenously develop propulsion systems. and Libya – have the political support or motivation to undertake an ICBM program to strike CONUS. however. economic. North Korea. others emphasize one to the detriment of the other. and countries other than declared nuclear powers had the capability and expertise to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles in the foreseeable future – 10 to 15 years – that could reach the continental United States.

614 INTELLIGENCE AND NATIONAL SECURITY Downloaded By: [Naval Postgradute School] At: 19:10 5 November 2008 did not declare a high threat to the US from incoming ballistic missiles. Close examination of these two NIEs reveals that the key judgments were not actually inconsistent. cannot be overstated. Whereas the 1993 NIE had identified the possibility. . these programs are to serve regional goals. Making the change from a short or medium range missile – that may pose a threat to US troops located abroad – to a long range ICBM capable of threatening our citizens at home. the 1995 NIE expressed firm assertions about events up to 15 years into the future. nor did they contradict each other. or international control regimes. NIE 93-17 had hedged more against future ambiguities and quantified the uncertainty of its judgments. sanctions. acknowledging that several states might have the motivation. though unlikelihood.31 Similar skepticism existed on the possibility that states such as North Korea or Iran could develop land attack cruise missiles. and economic and political environments suitable for ICBM development. The Intelligence Community judges that in the next 15 years no country other than the major declared nuclear powers will develop a ballistic missile that could threaten the continuous 48 states or Canada. . technical ability. ‘normally’. What differed was the wording of its judgments. whereas NIE 95-19 did not quantify the certainty of its judgments. rather using unquantifiable words such as ‘unlikely’. is a major technological leap . and ‘probably’. the NIE that followed – Emerging Missile Threats to North America during the Next 15 Years (NIE 95-19) – categorically denied any possibility that any country other than the declared nuclear powers would be in a position to threaten the US or Canada with ICBMs. the NIE hedged against that threat. indicating a ‘small but significant chance (10 to 30 percent)’ or a particular event. Relevant excerpts from the NIE read as follows: Nearly a dozen countries other than Russia and China have ballistic missile development programs. Whereas the earlier NIE was written with a more equivocating tone. All forecasts are guesses about the future but the role of an intelligence analyst is to offer an informed judgment about the degree of certainty that a particular outcome will occur. which are indiscernible in their language. or other related capabilities because of technical limitations. however. . of foreign missile threats. In the view of the Intelligence Community.32 The implications of these semantic nuances. Offering certainty in an estimate emerged as disingenuous given that the estimating exercise is at best an informed guess about the future course of events. In contrast. space launch vehicles for an ICBM.

pointing to the 1995 NIE in arguing that missile defense had intended to defend against a ‘long-range threat that our Intelligence Community does not foresee in the coming decade’. Apparent discrepancies between the two NIEs coupled with the high policy stakes led to a series of investigations into why these two NIEs appeared to vary. Several inclusions would have strengthened the NIE’s credibility. The 1995 NIE became a key justification for President Bill Clinton’s veto of the original version of the 1996 defense authorization bill that had called for a deployment of a missile defense system by 2003. It should have reviewed the case of ICBM-possessing states and traced the amount of time required to develop such a capability. An immediate consequence was the appointment of former DCI Robert Gates to investigate the production of the 1995 NIE. . President Clinton suggested that missile defense was not a necessary component of defense policy.33 Critics. It cited the ‘hands-off’ approach by some senior members of the intelligence community in generating the NIE.’ The problem. and guidance. according to the Gates-led Independent Panel Review.35 From the standpoint of dueling defense agendas. to produce a preconceived and politically convenient conclusion’ in the form of postponing missile defense. was that either opponents of missile defense in a postCold War world would have to admit an enduring threat or advocates of strong defense would have to concede that there was no near-term basis for missile defense. such as obstacles to propulsion. alleged that the intelligence community had imposed ‘a priori assumptions on the process . Senator Bob Kerrey seemed unsurprised by the political upheaval that the 1995 NIE had caused: ‘It’s inevitable the National Intelligence Estimate in question. one of these constituencies would ‘lose’ based on the NIE’s conclusions. it did take issue with some aspects of the process. It could have addressed the hardware and system integration challenges – not to mention the requirement that it be clandestine – of engineering a long-range ballistic missile. however.34 In a 1996 hearing. Though this investigation found no evidence of politicization. . In addition to other technical issues. re-entry.Downloaded By: [Naval Postgradute School] At: 19:10 5 November 2008 NIES ON THE IRAN NUCLEAR THREAT 615 The change in tenor from the cautious NIE of 1993 and the more sanguine 1995 NIE had significant implications for defense and security policy. argued that it was foolish to disregard missile threats to Alaska and Hawaii – the NIE considered threats to just the 48 contiguous states – and that its delay in the early drafts forced the hasty and rushed completion of the final draft. he indicated.36 Perhaps most damaging was the charge that the estimate did not present a strong evidentiary and technical basis. this NIE 95-19. Any meaningful pronouncement on a topic at the center of our defense debates would generate controversy. would be controversial. the NIE should have noted the basis for the apparent shift between the 1993 . the exercise would have strengthened the assessment about likely timing of a future ICBM threat.

and to offer an unclassified assessment of the threat to the US from foreign missile systems.40 In the footsteps of the GAO report came the Rumsfeld Commission. that The estimate in our view too easily dismisses missile scenarios alternative to an indigenously developed and launched intercontinental ballistic missile by countries hostile to the United States.616 INTELLIGENCE AND NATIONAL SECURITY Downloaded By: [Naval Postgradute School] At: 19:10 5 November 2008 NIE and that of 1995. alternatives such as a land-attack cruise missile. it concluded that the estimate reflected the best evidence analysts had at the time they produced the NIE. It questioned why the estimate excluded missiles launched from several miles of US territory. Those caveats included analytical gaps. The estimate should have assured policy makers that this issue will receive continuing high priority. and specifically why it had changed. the Gates report did not disagree with the estimate’s conclusions that the US was unlikely to face an ICBM threat from a new nuclear state before 2010. In its evaluation of why the 1993 and 1995 NIEs varied in their judgments. or why it assumed that an illegal launch or technology leakage from the former Soviet Union could not occur. and that all possible technical alternatives will be investigated vigorously and time to respond could be provided.38 In spite of these criticisms. generally that ‘as with all projections of long-term developments. the GAO concluded that ‘the 1993 NIEs provided more convincing support than NIE 95-19’ due to the overwhelmingly more robust set of evidence that the former provided. in conclusion. to evaluate whether those NIEs were objective and empirically sound. On the contrary. the GAO found that the ‘main judgment of NIE 95-19 was worded with clear (100 percent) certainty’. Chairman Gates then testified. The Panel sought clarification in the estimate as to where the analysis had changed since the previous estimate.39 The Congress also requested an investigation by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to compare the content and conclusions of the 1995 NIE with that of its predecessors. Critiquing the apparent certainty of the analytical judgments.37 The Panel also raised some technical points that it said undermined the estimate’s standing. or the possibility that adversaries could seek foreign technical assistance. a level of certainty vastly overstated based on the caveats that the analysts themselves noted in NIE 95-19. and found ‘no evidence of politicization’. such as land attack or sealaunched missiles. set up by a Congress dissatisfied with the tepid findings of the Gates Panel and the continuing assertions of the intelligence community that the US did not face a . there are substantial uncertainties’. The GAO report agreed with the Gates Panel’s criticism that NIE 95-19 had not considered alternative futures.

. . and House and Senate Minority Leaders (a balance of six Republicans and three Democrats) might have elicited greater suspicion about the Commission’s conclusions had North Korea not test-fired a long-range Taepo-Dong I missile over Japan a week later. Iran.42 this commission would seek to uncover ‘alternative futures’ that had not been discussed in the original NIE.S.S.S. about the pace. an assessment that the later 2001 NIE further confirmed: it reported that North Korea. The Taepo Dong-1 traveled a distance of 1000 miles and signaled an ‘accelerating ability to launch a multistage missile and to develop a system with the potential for intercontinental range’.41 To that end. During several of these years. Foreign assistance is pervasive. the Rumsfeld Commission did in fact envision a dramatically different future. Modeled after the ‘Team B’ intelligence effort in the 1970s. An NIE conducted in 1999 identified states other than Russia and China as ballistic missile threats to the US. The threat is exacerbated by the ability of both existing and emerging ballistic missile powers to hide their activities from the U.46 The concern gained momentum with . Subtitle B of Title 13 called for a commission to analyze the existing and emerging ballistic missile threat to the United States. the 1997 National Defense Authorization Act (HR 3230) directed the DCI to convene a panel of independent. within about five years of decision to acquire such a capability (10 years in the case of Iraq). and to deceive the U. . to acquire the means to strike the U. .Downloaded By: [Naval Postgradute School] At: 19:10 5 November 2008 NIES ON THE IRAN NUCLEAR THREAT 617 long-range missile threat in the following 10–15 years. and possibly Iraq would likely present ICBM threats to the US. enabling and misleading. non-government experts to review the 1995 NIE. It was as unambiguous in its assertion of threat as the 1995 NIE had been in minimizing the missile threat to the US homeland: Ballistic missiles armed with WMD payloads pose a strategic threat to the United States. Speaker of the House. scope and direction of their development and proliferation programs. . This is not a distant threat. A new strategic environment gives emerging ballistic missile powers the capacity. the United States might not be aware that such a decision had been made.43 In its analysis. through a combination of domestic development and foreign assistance.44 That the Commission was appointed by recommendations from the Senate Majority Leader. Characterizing foreign assistance as a wild card is both incorrect and misleading. .45 The Rumsfeld Commission coupled with the North Korea missile test essentially had the effect of nullifying the 1995 NIE.

Though the 2007 NIE suggested that Iran might technically be capable of producing enough enriched uranium for a weapon between 2010 and 2015.6 billion. . evidenced by the North Korean test of the Taepo Dong 1 missile and its particular threat to the homeland. which mandated the deployment of a national missile defense ‘as soon as is technologically possible’. The Senate passed it unanimously and Clinton signed the bill into law. and an equally acrimonious political debate and policy shift ensued. Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program . The Congress passed HR 4. The vote in the House passed by 345–71. the December 2007 NIE reported with ‘high confidence that in Fall 2003. Whereas the 2005 NIE had described Iran as determined to acquire nuclear weapons.50 Defenders of the more recent NIE laud it for applying the recommendations on intelligence practices that had come out of the Iraq experience: the need to allow new information to challenge long-held beliefs and to conduct alternative hypothesis testing. the National Missile Defense Act of 1999. Secretary of Defense William Cohen gave a conference in which he announced the increase of the national missile defense budget by $6. In supporting that increase. its intentions to pursue anything beyond civilian capability was based on a cost– benefit that discouraged rushing towards a nuclear weapon because of the anticipated negative response by the international community. stating that ‘the pace and scale of recent ballistic missile proliferation has exceeded earlier intelligence estimates and suggests these challenges may grow at a faster pace than previously expected’.49 NIES ON IRAN’S NUCLEAR PROGRAM In a more recent case. he gave a nod to the Rumsfeld Commission’s ‘sobering analysis of the threat and the limitations of our ability to predict how rapidly it will change’. the NIEs on Iran over a similarly short period of time – 2005 to 2007 – also appeared to mark a sharp contrast between estimates. which had initially been vocal in its opposition to the bill.47 Shifting threat assessments had a remarkable effect on missile defense policy. . The intelligence community incorporated both of these practices. 132 Democrats sided with 213 Republicans and made the margin veto-proof by the Clinton Administration.48 Confirming that the Clinton Administration now embraced the new assessment of long-range missile threats. and with moderate confidence that Tehran had not restarted its nuclear weapons program as of mid 2007’.Downloaded By: [Naval Postgradute School] At: 19:10 5 November 2008 618 INTELLIGENCE AND NATIONAL SECURITY the 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review that took previous assessments one step further. Intelligence analysts had acquired new intelligence in the form of communications intercepts between key Iranian officials who complained about the suspension of the nuclear weapons program in 2003 .

Challengers of the recent NIE. and that those conclusions would have a significant impact on US policy towards Iran. however. there appeared to be two improvements over the way the Iraq NIE had been conducted: the incorporation of new intelligence that disconfirmed strongly held views about Iran’s nuclear program.51 Concerned that these notes had been part of a disinformation campaign. the NIE’s Key Judgments blurred the lines between estimates and conjecture. In the wake of the surprising ‘key findings’ of the 2007 NIE. interagency turf battles. arguing that the intelligence community appeared to be formulating policy rather than analyzing intelligence and that such meddling would merely torpedo efforts to confound Iran’s enrichment program. suggested a commission to investigate the .Downloaded By: [Naval Postgradute School] At: 19:10 5 November 2008 NIES ON THE IRAN NUCLEAR THREAT 619 and questioned whether it would ever be restarted. backed by Senator Jeff Sessions. Much as the apparent inconsistency of the 1990s had raised eyebrows.55 Implicit in this set of criticisms is that the NIE had remarkable effects on policy. it found itself without a case for hard-line policies after the 2007 NIE on Iran’s nuclear program. policy and intelligence. Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger argued that by stating the termination of Iranian’s nuclear program so categorically. prompted calls for investigations from several members of Congress. Why should the international community sign up to more punishing sanctions. the argument went. I don’t think the political calculus in this country or that of our allies abroad would tolerate it’. and the ‘red teaming’ of the assessment.52 Thus. the 2007 NIE prompted criticism that the change had been the result of dubious methods. and politics. expressed skepticism of the apparent about-face vis-a`-vis the previous assessment.54 Scores of conservative politicians and analysts added to the criticism that ‘the agency acted as an independent policymaker rather than an adviser’.53 Former Under Secretary of State John Bolton echoed that skepticism. as ballistic missile threat assessments of the 1990s had done. Where the Bush Administration had previously been pursuing more aggressive sanctions against Iran. the CIA then formed a ‘red team’ that evaluated and challenged these alternative hypotheses. He concluded by expressing his concern ‘about the tendency of the intelligence community to turn itself into a kind of check on. the executive branch’. ‘there is no possible way that the United States could now use unilateral military force in the wake of this estimate. if Iran had discontinued its nuclear weapons program in 2003? How could the Bush Administration or advocates of a military strike justify the use of force against Iran if it was not violating any international principles with respect to nuclear weapon development? As 30-year veteran of the CIA Bruce Riedel indicated after the DNI released key judgments. instead of a part of.56 That the NIE appeared to shift dramatically in its conclusions. Senator John Ensign.

the well-known political affinities of the Commission members certainly did not inspire confidence in the objectivity of its findings.58 Charges of partisanship on the original assessment were matched by charges of politicization of the post-assessment investigation. Second. and Stephen Cambone. suggests that the core program had not changed and was just as threatening in 2007 as it had been in 2005. despite the political fracas that followed.Downloaded By: [Naval Postgradute School] At: 19:10 5 November 2008 620 INTELLIGENCE AND NATIONAL SECURITY NIE’s content and process.57 Such a proposal raises at least a few issues. that changed a judgment on a key point’. One senior intelligence official attributed the modifications in the 2005 and 2007 Iran NIE to the fact that ‘we got new information that we judged to be credible . the intelligence community should necessarily seek and incorporate this new data that speaks to any of those parameters. diminished. however. Paul Bremer. Third. however. As with the Team B exercise of the 1970s. which will enable the production of fissile material. the experience of the 1990s suggests that the cure may sometimes be worse than the disease. the 2007 NIE found that Iran had suspended that aspect of the nuclear weapons production cycle. careful inspection indicates that two NIEs are not drastically different. Though the predictions of the Rumsfeld Commission seemed to be vindicated by the subsequent missile test in North Korea. Iran’s ‘declared uranium enrichment efforts. The main difference consisted of how the estimates viewed intentions regarding the weapons program. continue. which in part accounted for the changes in the assessment.59 The intent of updating a threat estimate is to investigate whether the threat has evolved. . some critics suggested that politicians had launched a ‘conscious political strategy’ to undermine the CIA estimate because ‘it stood in the way of a passionate belief in missile defense’. Where the 2005 NIE had found that Iran was ‘determined’ to build nuclear weapons. . First. all with strongly hawkish bona fides. An understanding of the science behind nuclear weapons. Comprised of Donald Rumsfeld. Members of the intelligence community suggested that the collection capability within Iran had improved in the intervening years since 2005. the objectivity of the Commission was equally or more dubious than the original NIE. As with the substantive differences between the 1993 and 1995 NIEs. They recommended modeling the commission on the Rumsfeld Commission that investigated the 1995 NIE on the ballistic missile threat.60 The 2007 NIE predicted that Iran would have enough fissile material . As DNI Michael McConnell testified to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in February 2008. or changed in form. Production of fissile material is the most difficult challenge in the nuclear weapons production cycle’. closer inspection of the recent Iran NIE indicates that changes may be the result less of politicization than of improvements in analytical methods. those between 2005 and 2007 are not as large as the differences in tone. Paul Wolfowitz.

Differences in tone. Because this malady is so pervasive and has proven so resistant to conventional solutions. belied the fact that the thrust of the assessments was vastly more similar than divergent. or a ‘devil’s advocate’ team that would challenge the underlying assumptions in a report. a timeline unchanged from the 2005 NIE. however.NIES ON THE IRAN NUCLEAR THREAT 621 for a nuclear weapon by late 2009 or more likely between 2010 and 2015. One set of messages comes from a review of the ballistic missile estimates and the Commissions that followed. The 9/11 Commission pointed to the lack of imagination and the resulting inability to think about a broad range of possibilities with respect to Al Qaeda. it recommended ‘routinizing. Second. operational requirements that tend to dominate priorities. the exercise of imagination’ in order to think through the range of alternative scenarios. we .62 These two recommendations from the Rumsfeld Commission sound uncannily similar to those of other recent Commissions investigating intelligence failure. Following from this observation was urging for red teaming. the two NIEs’ assessments of Iran’s nuclear trajectory were overwhelmingly congruent. What emerged in the Side Letter of the Rumsfeld Commission were two recommendations.64 Also echoing the Rumsfeld Commission was the observation of the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the US Regarding WMD that: The most common complaint we heard from analysts in the Intelligence Community was that the pressing demand for current intelligence ‘eats up everything else’. but in fact this aspect of the cycle is relatively easy – between a year to three in terms of time – compared with production of fissile material. it should not neglect long-range. the intelligence community should focus more on both ‘developing and testing alternative hypotheses’. even bureaucratizing. First.61 Downloaded By: [Naval Postgradute School] At: 19:10 5 November 2008 LESSONS FOR THE INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY ABOUT THE PRODUCTION OF INTELLIGENCE A study of the ballistic missile and Iran NIE offers several insights on how the intelligence community might produce more useful or meaningful intelligence for policy makers. The 2007 NIE had emphasized the weaponization. Analysts cannot maintain their expertise if they cannot conduct long-term and strategic analysis. In short.63 Similarly. nor did they give serious consideration to other possible explanations for Iraq’s failure to satisfy its WMD accounting discrepancies’. the Senate Report on Iraqi pre-war intelligence indicated that members of the intelligence committee did not make ‘any effort to question the fundamental assumptions that Iraq had active and expanded WMD programs. strategic analysis in favor of the near-term.

featured far less prominently towards the back was the finding that Iran continued to enrich uranium.65 Given that these messages are recurrent across several prior Commissions. is having a ‘huge number of possible alarms that looked as troubling as the danger that turn out to be real’.67 A third lesson from the case comparison is the importance of an NIE’s wording. An internal cohort of decision makers would digest the contents in a more controlled environment whereas the external audience was more prone to oversimplification.66 Separating the useful data from the noise then becomes prohibitively difficult. There’s been considerable confusion in how this has been reported in the press. The effect of the NIE’s wording and ordering. which is that intelligence analysts and decision makers have a preponderance of scenarios they must consider on a daily basis.69 One reason for the somewhat careless wording is that the NIE had ostensibly been prepared for internal rather than external consumption. and what gave the 2007 NIE its forceful impact. however. the Community’s existing focal point for interagency long-term analytic efforts. which is the ‘most difficult and time-consuming part of the process’ according to experts who understand nuclear weapons development. the 2007 NIE’s conclusions that Iran had terminated its nuclear weapons program ‘gave them [the international community] the pretext to water down sanctions and effectively took the use of force off the table for US policymakers’. a list that becomes too lengthy and too onerous to respond duly to all of them.70 By the time DNI Michael McConnell had walked back from . The NIE stated early in the report that Iran had most likely terminated its weapons program in 2003.622 INTELLIGENCE AND NATIONAL SECURITY Downloaded By: [Naval Postgradute School] At: 19:10 5 November 2008 recommend establishing an organization to perform only long-term and strategic analysis under the National Intelligence Council. could not be overstated. Does the focus on near-term operational problems preclude thinking about longer-term management issues such as routinizing alternative hypothesis testing? The more plausible problem is in fact the opposite.’68 The source of confusion. it is worth considering why they are not better implemented. According to a Senior Director for Nonproliferation on the NSC. the real problem for an intelligence analyst. Rather than not having enough scenarios. as Richard Clarke said in his testimony to the 9/11 Commission. These alternative scenarios become just one of many scenarios. particularly under circumstances in which decision makers are constrained by time and incomplete information. both of which are conditions more likely to trigger reliance on instincts and preconceptions. was the wording and order of the findings. DNI Michael McConnell alluded to this point in his February 2008 testimony to the US House of Representatives: ‘I want to be very clear in addressing Iran’s nuclear capability.

CONCLUSION This article suggests what may be uncovered if critics are successful in establishing a national commission to study the recent Iran NIE’s ‘aboutface’. Emphasizing Iran’s suspension of the weapons program. Such nuance. . Producers of intelligence need to be agnostic about a set of policy choices but cognizant of the policy environment into which their information is introduced. A fourth lesson is that NIEs should properly qualify or quantify the expected likelihood of a particular outcome.72 Whether or not Iran’s actual timeline for producing nuclear weapons had changed became immaterial. Perhaps a ‘Team C’ that can offer a strategic and imaginative set of scenarios would be a worthy exercise. Investigators will find that critical intelligence assessments are often based on what appears to be flimsy evidence from ‘soft’ inputs about state intentions and capabilities – and that evidence is often interpreted differently by different analysts and different organizations. as with the original estimates. but they may introduce new problems. which seemed to see the NIE as a Rorschach test in which partisans could view the results in whatever way best suited their political agendas. however. . paying particular attention to the possibility of ‘policy panic’ by casting particular judgments in appropriately contextualized language. Both the original and second opinion should be viewed with a critical eye. admitting that ‘in retrospect . analysts should be aware that the influence of intelligence on the policy process is such that it will always have the potential to become political and politicized. In this environment. or less factually accurate than the original estimates. To its credit. less objective. unlike the early alternative scenarios exercise. when it had continued along the status quo in the most difficult aspect of the process. for example. The answer is not to remove sources of dissent but to acknowledge that. post hoc analysis has its own set of flaws.Downloaded By: [Naval Postgradute School] At: 19:10 5 November 2008 NIES ON THE IRAN NUCLEAR THREAT 623 the tone of the earlier assessment in February 2008. the 2007 Iran NIE did seem to incorporate the criticism of the ballistic missile NIE that had ‘overstated the certainty of its key judgments’ by qualifying the likelihood of each assertion. The alternative analysis may be as politically motivated. however. Lastly. was lost in a politically charged and leak-prone environment. I would do things differently’. They may also be plagued by hindsight bias in which the answers look manifestly obvious once the dust has settled. the challenge for analysts is understandably difficult.71 the political reverberations had already had their impact on domestic and international support for a hard line towards Iran’s nuclear program. . was misleading even if factually accurate. ‘Team B’ or investigative commissions offer an easy way to critique other analysts’ estimates.

they will be disappointed. the democratic process and its propensity for leaks may introduce additional pressures. especially about the future’. Estimates on issues at the center of American security debates have higher stakes and are more likely to have constituencies – pro. these teams’ assessments could be internally debated in parallel. . As nuclear physicist Niels Bohr once joked. ‘prediction is difficult. As the Office of the DNI instructs. The Washington Post.A29. for their thoughtful comments on this research. 2 Marc Santora. treating an estimate as the last word on any given threat ignores the fact that NIEs are. Similarly. WMD assessments of the 1990s.Downloaded By: [Naval Postgradute School] At: 19:10 5 November 2008 624 INTELLIGENCE AND NATIONAL SECURITY where each team operated sequentially. The outcome would be a net assessment of the various considerations to avoid overwhelming decision makers with a multitude of scenarios. 1 John R.73 Not only would the decision makers benefit from analysis of competitive futures. for example – that are invested in a particular policy outcome. and Eric Rosenbach. and Matthew Kroenig. ‘Candidates Hold to their Stances on Iran’. 4 December 2007.or anti-hardline Iran. informed guesses based on incomplete information about future capabilities and intentions. however.75 NOTES I would like to thank Erik Dahl. p. The article’s assessment of the 1976 Team B exercise. ‘The Flaws in the Iran Report’. Matthew Fuhrmann. and most recently the Iran threat estimates suggests the degree to which intelligence estimates may be politicized not just within administrations or in agencies but in Congress and public discourse. policy’. would nonetheless need to be qualified and quantified with the likely odds that the particular outcome would obtain. The New York Times. Finally. NIEs ‘provide information on the current state of play but are primarily ‘‘estimative’’ – that is. Bolton. pro. That net assessment itself. 6 December 2007. the article’s comparison of these NIEs illustrates that the business of intelligence estimating is indeed just estimating.or anti-missile defense. but the single assessment outcome might be less vulnerable to politicization than having two separate products that could play off each other. into which the 1976 Team B scenario degenerated. since the entry into public discourse increases the number of constituencies and thereby intensifies exposure to various and competing political agendas.74 If policy makers expect deterministic judgments based on hard facts.S. Gustavo Flores-Macı´as. I would also like to acknowledge Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs for its support of this work. High-stakes defense issues may therefore be more prone to politicization. Moreover. they make judgments about the likely course of future events and identify the implications for U. at best.

‘Iran is Judged 10 Years from Nuclear Bomb’. for more on Team B.gov/nic/foia_vietnam_content.309–10. Knopf 2007) pp. 21 Richard Rhodes.dni.gov/nic/nic_tradecraft_overview. 5 Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States (The Rumsfeld Commission). David Binder. Foreign Missile Threats: Analytic Soundness of Certain National Intelligence Estimates (Washington. 19 ONE dissolved in 1973 and gave way to the National Intelligence Officer system that remains in place today.82– 93. ‘Biases in Estimating Intelligence’. p.82–93.state.org/intell/library/reports/gao/ nsi96225. in Sherman Kent and the Board of National Estimates (McLean. November 2007.htm4 (accessed 29 September 2008). 8 Defined in the introduction to Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities.gov/search. in Sherman Kent and the Board of National Estimates (McLean. 18 Jack Davis. 14 Richards J. A Century of Spies: Intelligence in the Twentieth Century (New York: Oxford University Press 1995). released by the State Department Office of the Historian and available at 5http://www. see the National Intelligence Council at 5http:// www.foia. See Donald P. Allen. Report on the US Intelligence Community’s Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq (Washington. ‘New CIA Estimate Finds Soviets Seek Superiority in Arms’. ‘Introduction’.dni. 20 Quoted in Willard C. . ‘Sherman Kent and the Profession of Intelligence Analysis’.fas. 12 See the CIA’s Freedom of Information Act site that allows browsing through National Intelligence Estimates and Special National Intelligence Estimates. VA: Center for the Study of Intelligence 1999). see inter alia Anne Hessing Cahn. Steury. ‘Peering into the Future’. Washington Post. 26 December 1976. CIA Occasional Papers 1/5 (2002).A01. The US Intelligence Community (Boulder. VA: Center for the Study of Intelligence 2007). available at 5http://www. p. 7 Robert L.320. Foreign Affairs 73/4 (1994) pp. Suettinger. ‘Overview: History of Intelligence Estimates’.Downloaded By: [Naval Postgradute School] At: 19:10 5 November 2008 NIES ON THE IRAN NUCLEAR THREAT 625 3 Dafna Linzer.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/ nixon/e5part2/89622. 13 Jeffrey T.globalsecurity.html4 (accessed 31 May 2008).htm4 (accessed 29 September 2008). PA: Penn State Press 1998). The GAO report is available at 5http://www. Jr. 17 Donald P.121–26.L.txt4 (accessed 1 June 2008). Nye. John Carver and Tom Elmore (eds) Tracking the Dragon: National Intelligence Estimates on China during the Era of Mao. Chapter 11. available at 5http://www.pdf4 (accessed 1 June 2008). ‘Introduction’. 6 T. VA: Central Intelligence Agency 2004).298–303. PA: Pennsylvania State University Press 2001) pp. Heuer.. Intelligence and National Security Policy. 1948–1976 (McLean.. 31 July 1971 (NIE 61-71). DC: US Government Printing Office 1996). See ‘The Rapid Production of the October 2003 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq’s Continuing Programs for WMD’. see Joseph S. in John K.html4 (accessed 1 June 2008). 1936–1991 (State College. Richelson. 11 The 2002 Iraq NIE took three weeks to complete. 10 For a list of select NIEs on Vietnam. 15 Joseph S. Jr. in The Psychology of Intelligence Analysis (McLean. The Fate of Facts in the World of Men: Foreign Policy and Intelligence-Making (New York: The Foreign Policy Association 1976) p. Evan Thomas. 9 See Algeria’s International Relations. For an overview of the NIE process. see also Matthias (note 20) p. 5http://www. ‘Peering into the Future’.org/irp/threat/missile/rumsfeld/ index. 2 August 2005. Steury. Matthias. Killing Detente: The Right Attacks the CIA (College Station.310. Foreign Affairs 73/4 (1994) pp. VA: Center for the Study of Intelligence 2007). America’s Strategic Blunders. Hughes. 4 General Accounting Office.dni. Arsenals of Folly (New York: Alfred A. The Very Best Men: Four Who Dared: The Early Years of the CIA (New York: Simon & Schuster 1995). CO: Westview Press 1999) p.14. DC: United States Senate 2004) pp. New York Times. cia. Nye Jr. 16 Jeffrey T. 15 July 1998. Richelson.43.gov/press_releases/20071203_release.html4 (accessed 1 June 2008). Excerpt available at 5http://www.asp?pageNumber¼1&freqReqRecord¼nic_prod_nie.

in Jeffreys-Jones and Andrew (eds) Eternal Vigilance?.34. Fareed Zakaria. and Quality. Senate. Best Truth: Intelligence in the Information Age (New Haven. available at 5http://www. Newsweek. NIE 93-17.fas.htm4 (accessed 10 February 2008).htm4 (accessed 1 February 2008). available at 5http://www. Goodman. National Missile Defense: Issues for Congress (Washington. 1996 – Transcript. for a House Committee on Foreign Affairs definition of an NIE. Treverton. 28 National Intelligence Council 2004 (unclassified book describing the roles and responsibilities of the NIC). Production.org/irp/congress/1996_hr/s961204p. 32 Ibid. 19 January 1977. 27 Gregory F. 39 Gates Panel (note 36). DC: Congressional Research Service 2001). Michael Donovan. Hildreth and Amy F. which viewed the 1978 riots in Qom as indications of the Shah’s precariousness amid social unrest. International Security 10/1 (1985) pp. though the ‘Team B’ erred on the worst-case scenarios. Bruce D. 31 Emerging Missile Threats to North America During the Next 15 Years. NIE 95-19.fas. Berkowitz and Allan E. in Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones and Christopher M. 26 DIA and to some extent the CIA expected that the regime would remain in power and that the Shah would respond to disorder with a forceful response. in principle it did improve the process by introducing .org/irp/threat/nie9317. p. 29 Prospects for the Worldwide Development of Ballistic Missile Threats to the Continental United States. ‘The CIA and the Soviet Threat: The Politicization of Estimates. DC: US Government Printing Office 1978). pp. 30 Ibid. Reshaping National Intelligence for an Age of Information (New York: Cambridge University Press 2003). Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents.htm4 (accessed 30 May 2008).143– 63. 25 Lawrence Freedman. 19 February 1995. 41 Hildreth and Woolf. Subcommittee on Collection. The National Intelligence Estimates A-B Team Episode Concerning Soviet Strategic Capability and Objectives. Andrew (eds) Eternal Vigilance? 50 Years of the CIA (Portland. ‘Exaggerating the Threats’. 24 ‘Handicapping the Arms Race’. 23 March 1998. See also Steven A. OR: Frank Cass 1997) pp. 38 Robert Gates. see Richelson (note 13) p.fas. New York Times. 23 Stephen Flanagan. available at 5http://www. National Missile Defense (note 33).org/spp/starwars/offdocs/nie9519.122–42. 42 The 1976 assessment of the Soviet strategic capability introduced the idea of ‘Team B’ of outside experts to challenge conventional wisdom on Soviet arsenals. ‘Intelligence Analysis on the Long-Range Missile Threat to the United States’. DC: US Government Printing Office 1996).320.Downloaded By: [Naval Postgradute School] At: 19:10 5 November 2008 626 INTELLIGENCE AND NATIONAL SECURITY 22 US Congress. CT: Yale University Press 2000). Heritage Foundation Backgrounder #1166.htm4 (accessed 15 February 2008). 37 Ibid. 34 Thomas Moore. Woolf. 1966– 1977’. 36 Independent Panel Review of ‘Emerging Missile Threats to North America During the Next 15 Years’ (the Gates Panel) available at 5http://www.fas. 4 December 1996. Report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. 40 Foreign Missile Threats: Analytical Soundness of Certain National Intelligence Estimates (GAO/NSIAD-96–225) (Washington.58–95.htm4 (accessed 15 February 2008). ‘Managing the Intelligence Community’. ‘Intelligence and the Iranian Revolution’. That view diverged from the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research.org/irp/ congress/1996_hr/s961204. DC: Senate Select Committee on Intelligence 1996) available at 5http://www.fas. testimony to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. 16 February 1978 (Washington. 35 Intelligence Analysis on the Long-Range Missile Threat to the United States (Washington. 33 Statement on Signing the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1996 – President Bill Clinton on February 10.org/news/usa/1997/02/ msg00032b. ‘15 Years and Counting: Why Americans Still are Vulnerable to Missile Attack’. 16 June 2003.

US Says’. Sanger and Steven Lee Myers. 6 December 2007. See Loch Johnson.A09. 8 December 2007. NPR. and Chemical Threats (Washington. p. David E. p.org/intell/library/congress/20044 (accessed 29 May 2008).gov/080205/mcconnell. ‘Fixing .248. 17 January 2008. See the 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review. New York Times. Distresses GOP Watchdogs in Congress’. 24 December 2007. DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace 2005) p.pdf David J.defenselink.org/spp/starwars/program/news99/t01201999_t0120md. available at 5http://www.fas. ‘An Intelligence Turnaround: How Politics Helped Redefine Threat’. DoD News Briefing.NIES ON THE IRAN NUCLEAR THREAT 43 44 45 Downloaded By: [Naval Postgradute School] At: 19:10 5 November 2008 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 627 outside experts and considering alternative outcomes. 12 September 1996 Press Release of the House National Security Committee. 20 January 1999.npr.org/templates/story/story. America’s Secret Power: The CIA in a Democratic Society (New York: Oxford University Press 1991) p. for a sample of the conservative criticism.org/irp/nic/bmthreat-2015.pdf4 (accessed 30 May 2008). 5 February 2008. senate.A9. Wolfsthal and Miriam Rajkumar. p. For more on alternative hypothesis testing. available at 5http://www. ‘Diving Deep.fas. Peter Baker and Dafna Linzer. See Joseph Cirincione. Chicago Sun-Times. Bolton. Cohen. 7 December 2007. see Roger Z. Trachtenberg.dni. Robert Novak. 6 December 2007. Secretary of Defense William S. Tom Gjelten.house. Rumsfeld Commission (note 5). ‘GAO Report Validates GOP Concerns’. see in particular pp.mil/pubs/pdfs/ qdr2001. p. ‘Review of Iran Intelligence to be Sought’. The 31 August 1998 test of the Taepo Dong I ballistic missile/space launch vehicle is thought to have had a No Dong first stage. Wright and Glenn (note 55).globalsecurity.php?storyId¼181771034 (accessed 12 February 2008). 23.344. available at 5http://www. 14 January 2002.htm4 (accessed 1 June 2008). p. See 18 March 1999 Intelligence Side Letter to the 1998 Rumsfeld Report. available at www. available at 5http://www. Washington Post.fas. NPR.pdf4 (accessed 1 June 2008). Michael McConnell.fas.A29. available at 5http://armedservices. ‘Annual Threat Assessment of the Director of National Intelligence for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’. The 9/11Commission Report (Washington. Foreign Missile Developments and the Ballistic Missile Threat Through 2015 (Unclassified Summary of the 2001 NIE).289. US Senate Report on the US Intelligence Community’s Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq. available at 5http://www. Michael Dobbs. John R. Henry Kissinger. DC: US Government Printing Office 2004) p.gov/comdocs/openingstatementsandpressreleases/104thcongress/pdfs/spniepr. Annual Worldwide Threat Assessment.A01. Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities. 5 December 2007. ‘NIE Report May Block Military Force against Iran’. The Washington Post. ‘Details in Military Notes Led to Shift on Iran.php?storyId¼ 169130774 (accessed 29 September 2008). 13 December 2007.pdf4 (accessed 29 September 2008).A35.htm4 (accessed 20 January 2008).org/irp/threat/missile/sideletter.9. George.org/templates/story/story. Biological. The Washington Post. Deadly Arsenals: Nuclear. Michael McConnell. Scud-B second stage.npr. available at 5http:// intelligence. 2007 Iran NIE available at 5http://www. Unearthing a Surprise: How a Search for Iran’s Nuclear Arms Program Turned Up an Unexpected Conclusion’. and rocket ‘kick motor’ as third stage. Hearing of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Armed Forces Journal 143/6 (January 2007) pp. ‘‘‘Arrogant’’ CIA Angers. ‘Iran NIE Reopens Intelligence Debate’. ‘The Flaws in the Iran Report’. Jon B. The Washington Post.gov/ press_releases/20071203_release. available at 5http://www. Riedel quoted in Mike Shuster. ‘Off the Radar’.htm4 (accessed 29 September 2008). Washington Post. available at 5http://www. see Robin Wright and Glenn Kessler. 7 February 2008.org/irp/ congress/2008_hr/020708transcript. ‘Misreading the Iran Report: Why Spying and Policymaking Don’t Mix’.12–5.pdf4 (accessed 31 May 2008). See ‘Foresight and Hindsight’.

‘Intelligence Chief Reshapes Iran NIE’. New York Times.3. Sanger and William J. ‘National Intelligence Estimates and the NIE Process’. In McConnell’s official remarks. Betts. in time-constrained environments they might be better served having a net assessment of scenarios that have already been internally debated by analysts. Richard K. in Iran NIE (note 50) p. ‘Innovation Policy: Not just a Jumbo Shrimp’. 8 February 2008. News and World Report. Peter Crail. Nature 454 (21 August 2008) pp. The Journal of Strategic Studies 29/1 (2006) pp.9. available at 5http://www.wmd. James Schlesinger echoed others in saying that uranium enrichment is the ‘long pole in the tent’ in terms of the nuclear weapons cycle. Quoted in David H. ‘Intelligence Chief Cites Qaeda Threat to US’.gov/report/report. he goes to great lengths to explain the process of producing nuclear weapons and indicates firmly that Iran remains on the path towards the most difficult aspect of that cycle. Joseph Nye advocates producing a multitude of scenarios since the job of an analyst is to help the decision maker ‘think’. The New York Times. and Intelligence Failures: The Case of Iraq’. World Politics 31/1 (October 1978) pp. . ‘Analysis.940–1.61–89. Mark Mazzetti. While decision makers do not need point estimates. 6 February 2008. David E. Arms Control Today 38/1 (January/February 2008) p. ‘Intel Report Reshapes Iran Sanctions Debate’. Foreign Affairs 73/4 (July/August 1994). Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the US Regarding Weapons Mass Destruction (Robb–Silberman Commission). Broad. and Decision: Why Intelligence Failures are Inevitable’. Guston.3–52 at 16. War. Politics. McConnell (note 61) p.html4 (accessed 31 May 2008). ‘Iran is Reported to Test New Centrifuges to Make Atomic Fuel’.S. ‘Reports. Robert Jervis. ‘Peering into the Future’. International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 17/3 (2004) pp.34.385–404.628 65 66 67 68 69 Downloaded By: [Naval Postgradute School] At: 19:10 5 November 2008 70 71 72 73 74 75 INTELLIGENCE AND NATIONAL SECURITY the Problem of Analytical Mind-Sets: Alternative Analysis’. 6 February 2008. U.