"Some in G.O.P. Say Iran Threat Is Played Down
Some senior Bush administration officials and top Republican lawmakers are voicing anger that American spy agencies have not issued more ominous warnings about the threats that they say Iran presents to the United States. Some policy makers have accused intelligence agencies of playing down Iran’s role in Hezbollah’s recent attacks against Israel and overestimating the time it would take for Iran to build a nuclear weapon.
The complaints, expressed privately in recent weeks, surfaced in a Congressional report about Iran released Wednesday. They echo the tensions that divided the administration and the Central Intelligence Agency during the prelude to the war in Iraq.
The criticisms reflect the views of some officials inside the White House and the Pentagon who advocated going to war with Iraq and now are pressing for confronting Iran directly over its nuclear program and ties to terrorism, say officials with knowledge of the debate. . .
The new report, from the House Intelligence Committee, led by Representative Peter Hoekstra, Republican of Michigan, portrayed Iran as a growing threat and criticized American spy agencies for cautious assessments about Iran’s weapons programs. “Intelligence community managers and analysts must provide their best analytical judgments about Iranian W.M.D. programs and not shy away from provocative conclusions or bury disagreements in consensus assessments,” the report said, using the abbreviation for weapons of mass destruction like nuclear arms.
Some policy makers also said they were displeased that American spy agencies were playing down intelligence reports — including some from the Israeli government — of extensive contacts recently between Hezbollah and members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. “The people in the community are unwilling to make judgment calls and don’t know how to link anything together,” one senior United States official said.
“We’re not in a court of law,” he said. “When they say there is ‘no evidence,’ you have to ask them what they mean, what is the meaning of the term ‘evidence’?” . . .
“Analysts were burned pretty badly during the run-up to the war in Iraq,” said Representative Rush Holt, a New Jersey Democrat who sits on the House Intelligence Committee. “I’m not surprised that some in the intelligence community are a bit gun-shy about appearing to be war mongering.”
“Evidence?” That means "actually exists, or is “actually true” for those of us who are reality impaired.[/color]