Thursday, July 20, 2017

Why is CIA Director Weighing in With Policy Advice on Iran?

Are we once again witnessing the politicization of intelligence of the kind that led to the 2003 invasion of Iraq? Only applied to Iran this time?

There are a number of indications that such a process may indeed be underway. The latest was disclosed in the wake of Monday’s certification by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that Iran is indeed complying with the letter of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), better known as the Iran nuclear deal.

The New York Times published part of the backstory shortly after the certification was formally delivered to Congress. Here’s the most interesting paragraph (although the whole article needs to be read in order to get a better sense of how just how close the United States is to a real crisis both with its allies and Iran):

At an hourlong meeting last Wednesday, all of the president’s major security advisers recommended he preserve the Iran deal for now. Among those who spoke out were Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson; Defense Secretary Jim Mattis; Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, the national security adviser; and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to an official who described internal discussions on the condition of anonymity. The official said Mr. Trump had spent 55 minutes of the meeting telling them he did not want to.

I found it passing strange that Trump used all but an hour to keep saying that he didn’t want to approve the certification. After all, such a conversation would become mighty trying for all parties (except the principal), something similar to persuading a really stubborn four-year-old he had to go to the dentist because he would otherwise lose his teeth. And it was very difficult to imagine that Trump was, by himself, making substantive or even political arguments as to why he shouldn’t certify that Iran was complying with the JCPOA in the absence of any real evidence that it wasn’t.

Read the entire article