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MEMORANDUM FOR: The President
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
SUBJECT: Intelligence on Iran Fails the Smell Test
As the George W. Bush administration revved up to attack Iraq 15 years ago, we could see no compelling reason for war. We decided, though, to give President Bush the benefit of the doubt on the chance he had been sandbagged by Vice President Dick Cheney and others. We chose to allow for the possibility that he actually believed the "intelligence" that Colin Powell presented to the UN as providing "irrefutable and undeniable" proof of WMD in Iraq and a "sinister nexus" between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.
To us in VIPS it was clear, however, that the "intelligence" Powell adduced was bogus. Thus, that same afternoon (Feb. 5, 2003) we prepared and sent to President Bush a Memorandum like this one, urging him to seek counsel beyond the "circle of those advisers clearly bent on a war for which we see no compelling reason and from which we believe the unintended consequences are likely to be catastrophic."
We take no satisfaction at having been correct -- though disregarded -- in predicting the political and humanitarian disaster in Iraq. Most Americans have been told the intelligence was "mistaken." It was not; it was out-and-out fraud, in which, sadly, some of our former colleagues took part.
Five years after Powell's speech, the Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee minced few words in announcing the main bipartisan finding of a five-year investigation. He said: "In making the case for war, the Administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent. As a result, the American people were led to believe that the threat from Iraq was much greater than actually existed."
Iran Now in Gunsight
As drums beat again for a military attack -- this time on Iran, we Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity and other experienced, objective analysts are, by all appearances, being disregarded again. And, this time, we fear the consequences will be all-caps CATASTROPHIC -- in comparison with the catastrophe of Iraq.
In memoranda to you over the past year and a half we have pointed out that (1) Iran's current support for international terrorism is far short of what it was decades ago; and (2) that you are being played by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's claims about Iran: they are based on intelligence exposed as fraudulent several years ago. Tellingly, Netanyahu waited for your new national security adviser to be in place for three weeks before performing his April 30 slide show alleging that Iran has a covert nuclear weapons program. On the chance that our analysis of Netanyahu's show-and-tell failed to reach you, please know that the Israeli prime minister was recycling information from proven forgeries, which we reported in a Memorandum to you early last spring.
If our Memorandum of May 7 fell through some cracks in the West Wing, here are its main findings:
The evidence displayed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on April 30 in what he called his "Iranian atomic archive" showed blatant signs of fabrication. That evidence is linked to documents presented by the Bush Administration more than a decade earlier as "proof" of a covert Iran nuclear weapons program. Those documents were clearly fabricated, as well.
In our May 7, 2018 Memorandum we also asserted: "We can prove that the actual documents originally came not from Iran but from Israel. Moreover, the documents were never authenticated by the CIA or the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)."
Iran: Almost Targeted in 2008