Last month, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) addressed the YearlyKos bloggers conference and announced that he would propose the Iran Intelligence Oversight Act, legislation meant to ensure that each of the administration’s claims on Iran would be backed up by the consensus assessments of intelligence analysts.
The Iran oversight legislation was unanimously accepted in the Senate as an amendment to the 2007 Defense Authorization Bill, which passed in late June. Here’s why passage of the bill was so important.
In this week’s New Yorker, Seymour Hersh writes that Pentagon officials, who have been charged by Bush to draw up plans for a major bombing campaign inside Iran, are “increasingly challeng[ing] the President’s plans.” Military officials are voicing their concerns that the intelligence on Iran doesn’t stack up, according to Hersh:
A crucial issue in the military’s dissent, the officers said, is the fact that American and European intelligence agencies have not found specific evidence of clandestine activities or hidden facilities; the war planners are not sure what to hit. “The target array in Iran is huge, but it’s amorphous,” a high-ranking general told me. “The question we face is, When does innocent infrastructure evolve into something nefarious?”
A former senior intelligence official told me that people in the Pentagon were asking, “What’s the evidence? We’ve got a million tentacles out there, overt and covert, and these guys”"”the Iranians”””have been working on this for eighteen years, and we have nothing? We’re coming up with jack shit.”
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his senior aides “really think they can do this on the cheap, and they underestimate the capability of the adversary,” [a senior military official] said.
[Ret. Army Maj. Gen. William Nash, former commander of the First Armored Division:] “Their first possible response would be to send forces into Iraq. And, since the Iraqi Army has limited capacity, it means that the coalition forces would have to engage them. “¦ It would probably cause the war to spread.“
If Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and company don’t want to accept the judgments of intelligence experts before deciding what to do about Iran, it’s up to Congress to force them to.