Senior Israeli sources are claiming (sort of) that the U.S. has produced a new National Intelligence Estimate and that its findings show alarming advances in Iran’s nuclear program. According to Ehud Barak, undoubtedly one of the sources for this Haaretz report, the new NIE brings Israel and the U.S. even closer in their evaluations of the Iranian weapons capability. Of course, this story, if true (and even if not), can be quite useful in justifying any Israeli attack on Iran.
I don’t buy it. Not for a second. First, Barak Ravid, Haaretz’s stenographer for Barak, admits in a tweet that he hasn’t personally seen the report. He says that western and Israeli sources he considers “very reliable,” have. The Israeli source is likely Barak, who I wouldn’t consider reliable if he was the last defense minister on earth. The western source could very well be U.S. ambassador Dan Shapiro, who’s been leaking like a sieve to Israeli media on the Iran issue.
If you parse the Haaretz carefully (or even not so carefully) you won’t find a single piece of information in it that’s new or that even describes any aspect of the NIE. What I’m guessing is that Barak hasn’t even seen it himself. At no point does Ravid say that Israel has the report or has seen it. Which makes all of this nothing more than spin. Something unfortunately we’ve grown quite used to when it comes to Israeli security issues. Israel’s claims about Iran’s nuclear program have been riddled with deceit, lies and fraud.
Here’s the heart of the Haaretz report and Barak’s claims:
…As far as Israel knows, this report has brought the U.S. position over Iran closer to the Israeli position, and made the issue more urgent.
In a subsequent Israeli radio interview, Barak substantially backtracked saying:
“There probably really is such an American intelligence report — I don’t know if it is an NIE one — making its way around senior offices (in Washington),”
Based on this Haaretz and Ravid have gone out on a journalistic limb? This could just as easily be fabulism on Barak’s part.
Think on this as well: isn’t it a bit strange that there’ve been virtually no reports on the NIE in U.S. media. Why would the U.S. allow Israel to be the first to announce the news? Unless of course Barak is jumping the gun and doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about. Undoubtedly, there is a new NIE in the works and perhaps it does have strong things to say about Iran. But whether those things match what Barak is claiming is entirely dubious.
CBS also reports on Barak’s backtrack.