Some senior Bush administration officials and top Republican lawmakers are voicing anger that American spy agencies have not issued more ominous warnings about the threats that they say Iran presents to the United States.
Some policy makers have accused intelligence agencies of playing down Iran’s role in Hezbollah’s recent attacks against Israel and overestimating the time it would take for Iran to build a nuclear weapon.
The complaints, expressed privately in recent weeks, surfaced in a Congressional report about Iran released Wednesday. They echo the tensions that divided the administration and the Central Intelligence Agency during the prelude to the war in Iraq.
The criticisms reflect the views of some officials inside the White House and the Pentagon who advocated going to war with Iraq and now are pressing for confronting Iran directly over its nuclear program and ties to terrorism, say officials with knowledge of the debate.
And now it's Flashback: 2002! Ya know, I can't help but wonder, why would Republican lawmakers (I actually just typed "lawbreakers" on accident) want the intelligence agency to start getting shrill about threats from Iran just now? I mean, what possible ulterior motive could the GOP have for wanting to scare the bejesus out of people, or better yet, start another war, which causes Americans to instantly rally around their leaders? And why would this particular group of leaders want war with Iran so badly?
Possibly the least reassuring part of the article:
Several intelligence officials said that American spy agencies had made assessments in recent weeks that despite established ties between Iran and Hezbollah and a well-documented history of Iran arming the organization, there was no credible evidence to suggest either that Iran ordered the Hezbollah raid that touched off the recent fighting or that Iran was directly controlling attacks against Israel.
“There are no provable signs of Iranian direction on the ground,” said one intelligence official in Washington. “Nobody should think that Hezbollah is a remote-controlled entity.” American military assessments have broadly echoed this view, say people who maintain close ties to military intelligence officers.
“Does Iran profit from all of this? Yes,” said Gen. Wayne A. Downing Jr., the retired former commander of the Special Operations Command and a White House counterterrorism adviser during President Bush’s first term. “But is Iran pulling the strings? The guys I’m talking to say, ‘no.’ ”
Shorter White House counterterrorism adviser: "What do you mean all of the militant groups in the Middle East aren't part of a single monolith emanating from Tehran?"
Sounds like the guys in charge of this stuff in the Bush Administration are part of what you might call a "pre-1990 mindset."