Norman Podhoretz, widely reputed to be the “godfather” of neoconservatism, has been one of the most aggressive hawks clamoring for war with Iran. Podhoretz laid out the “The Case For Bombing Iran” in a June cover story in the right-wing Commentary Magazine. He insisted that the Iranians were very close to developing a nuclear weapon:
[Iran's] effort to build a nuclear arsenal makes it the potentially most dangerous one of all. [...]
“[A]ll this negotiating has had the same result as Munich had with Hitler. That is, it has bought the Iranians more time in which they have moved closer and closer to developing nuclear weapons.”
Yesterday’s NIE proved Podhoretz’s claims were false. Rather than modify his views on Iran, Podhoretz — who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004 — aired a nasty conspiracy theory yesterday, attacking the authors of the NIE and accusing the intelligence community of deliberately “leaking material calculated to undermine George W. Bush:”
I must confess to suspecting that the intelligence community, having been excoriated for supporting the then universal belief that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, is now bending over backward to counter what has up to now been a similarly universal view (including as is evident from the 2005 NIE, within the intelligence community itself) that Iran is hell-bent on developing nuclear weapons. [...]
But I entertain an even darker suspicion. It is that the intelligence community, which has for some years now been leaking material calculated to undermine George W. Bush, is doing it again. This time the purpose is to head off the possibility that the President may order air strikes on the Iranian nuclear installations.
After insisting that Iran was “only a small step away from producing nuclear weapons,” and after pushing for military strikes against Iran for months, Podhoretz is apparently determined not to let facts get in the way of his prayers for an Iran war.
UPDATE: Podhoretz isn’t the only conservative desperately spinning the NIE to buttress his hawkish positions. Some other examples from conservative blogs:
Strata-Strata: “This smells like another leak by forces in our intel community trying to — once again — influence our national elections.”
Powerline: “But the report offers no reason to be less concerned about the likelihood that Iran will possess nuclear weapons in the near future, and no reason to doubt that our own willingness to take military action is one of the factors that will influence decision-making in Tehran.”
Michelle Malkin: “What’s not making headlines (the certainty that Iran indeed had a nuke program) is as telling as what is making news (the halting of the program in 2003).”
Seth Liebelson at the Corner: If Iran shut its program down in the fall of 2003 MIGHT, MIGHT, MIGHT it have anything to do with it noticing that the US militarily took out its neighbor (another enemy of the U.S.) earlier that year for, among other things, having a concealed WMD program?
Michael Rubin at the Corner: “If Iran was working on a nuclear weapons program until 2003, what does this say about U.S. policy in the late Clinton period and European engagement?”