This morning, the neoconservative opinion page of the Wall Street Journal published a little-known former intelligence analyst making claims of a vast left-wing conspiracy in the U.S. intelligence community to cover up Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program. Fred Fleitz’s analysis posits — in a style more befitting Newsmax (where he now writes) or David Horowitz’s conspiracy-riddled site than a major newspaper — that “liberal professors and scholars from liberal think tanks” gave biased (good) reviews of the still-classified 2011 National Intelligence Estimate (N.I.E.) on Iran because — well, basically because they’re (supposedly) liberals. Fleitz concludes:
It is unacceptable that Iran is on the brink of testing a nuclear weapon while our intelligence analysts continue to deny that an Iranian nuclear weapons program exists.
The accusations would be hilarious if they weren’t so serious. In essence, Fleitz is writing that the consensus of the U.S.’s 16 intelligence agencies — that Iran has still not made the decision to build a nuclear weapon — should be thrown out and everyone should listen to him.
But Fleitz’s own tenure in government was so plagued by scandal and deeply flawed and biased analysis that it raised hackles from experts worldwide. He espoused a worldview that considers anything insufficiently edgy or hawkish enough “wimpy.” Here are some of Fleitz’s greatest hits:
— Fleitz was a CIA officer who, in 2002, took on a position as reflexive überhawk John Bolton’s chief of staff, where, wrangling with the intelligence community about Cuba’s (non-existent) biological weapons program, he wrote to his boss that it is a “political judgment as to how to interpret [intelligence] data.”
— Fleitz was also reportedly involved in the leaking of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame’s name to the media in retaliation for her husband’s public questioning of the Bush administration’s assertions about Iraq’s WMDs. Fleitz worked in the same CIA office as Plame and reportedly passed her name to Bolton, who gave it to I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby’s aides.
— By 2006, Fleitz made his way to the House Permanent Select Intelligence Committee as a staffer under then-GOP Chairman Pete Hoekstra. In August of that year, Fleitz authored a report about Iran’s nuclear program that was so overblown that it elicited a letter of complaint about “erroneous, misleading and unsubstantiated information” from the U.N. atomic watchdog.
Given his record of sloppy analysis, bullying, and close association with some of the Bush administration’s leading hawks, there is a special irony in Fleitz’s complaint in the Journal that the intelligence community is “affected by the wave of risk aversion that has afflicted U.S. intelligence analysis since the 2003 Iraq War.” Perhaps Fleitz was the perfect man to write an op-ed for a paper that’s already more or less called for war with Iran.