After the intelligence community released its NIE that concluded Iran had halted its nuclear program in 2003, conservatives have generated a host of conspiracy theories. The intelligence community is “trying to — once again — influence our national elections,” said right-wing blog Strata-Sphere. Neoconservative Norman Podhoretz said that the intel officials may have tried to sabotage President Bush.
Last night on PBS’s Charlie Rose, former senator Fred Thompson added his own conspiracy theory to the mix, stating that Iran may have deliberately “leaked” the information on their lack of nuclear program to distract the U.S. “Nobody knows” if Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, he declared:
We’re just going to have to wait and see, why they would start it up and they would move away without telling anybody. Unless of course they have leaked this themselves. So, just a bunch of unanswered questions. […]
And this is perhaps a weak, faint or weak attempt to cause us to divert our attention a little bit.
Today, on Red State, Thompson expanded on his disdain for the NIE:
The accuracy of the latest NIE on Iran should be received with a good deal of skepticism. Our intelligence community has often underestimated the intentions of adversaries, including Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and North Korea. … It’s awfully convenient for a lot of people: the administration gets to say its policies worked; the Democrats get to claim we should have eased up on Iran a long time ago: and Russia and China can claim sanctions on Iran are not necessary. Who benefits from all this? Iran.
Thompson’s conspiracies aren’t a far cry from the Bush administration’s reactions. In July, administration officials “expressed skepticism” about an intercept from “a senior Iranian military official” complaining “that the nuclear program had been shuttered,” believing it was “part of a clever Iranian deception campaign.”
UPDATE: Thompson suggested that his skeptical eye towards the NIE was something he learned at home: “Remember what your mama told you — if something appears to be too good to be true, it probably is.”