Iran NIE Reopens Intelligence Debate Analysts who prepared the NIE on Iran knew they would cause a stir by reversing earlier judgments on Iran's nuclear weapons program. Some NIE critics say the drafters should have written it differently, while others may have not wanted to be accused of enabling another march to war.
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Iran NIE Reopens Intelligence Debate

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Iran NIE Reopens Intelligence Debate

Iran NIE Reopens Intelligence Debate

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STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

NPR's Tom Gjelten has the second of two reports.

TOM GJELTEN: Former CIA analyst Paul Pillar helped write many estimates as the National Intelligence Officer for the Near East. He says the drafters of this Iran NIE would have known that a lot would ride on the way they presented their conclusions.

PAUL PILLAR: A great deal of time and attention and negotiation typically goes into, not just what the judgments are in one of these estimates, but how they're arranged. What's going to be in the first paragraph? Even more so, what's going to be in the first sentence?

GJELTEN: Paul Pillar says the NIE drafters may not have wanted to be accused again of enabling a march to war, this time with Iran.

PILLAR: If the intelligence community is going to be criticized in many of the ways that it was in the Iraq case, then one should not be surprised if in a case like this, amid all the talk of going perhaps to war again, that the estimators might have shaped an estimate in a way that would take this military option off the table.

GJELTEN: In an interview broadcast last night on Fox News, the president was asked if he believed the NIE. He shrugged and said he believed in the professionals who prepared the NIE, quote, "were very sincere." But then he gave his own view of the Iranians intentions not quite consistent with the NIE.

GEORGE W: I believe they want a weapon, and I believe that they're trying to gain the know-how as to how to make a weapon under the guise of a civilian nuclear program.

GJELTEN: Here's how McConnell described the intelligence community's mission in a speech to students yesterday as St. Mary's College in Maryland.

MIKE MCCONNELL: We're attempting to earn the trust of the American public as professionals in the intelligence community. We're not political; we're professional. And we're going to go collect that information. We're going to provide to a set of decision makers that have different points of view.

GJELTEN: Tom Gjelten, NPR News, Washington.

INSKEEP: If you missed Tom's first report, you have a second chance to hear it. Just go to our Web site, npr.org.

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