A tempest in a nuclear reactor?

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Where's the accountability?

Two years ago, the Democrats and their friends in the liberal media were patting themselves on the back because of a National Intelligence Estimate that baldly stated, "Iran halted its nuclear weapons development program in the fall of 2003."

This was thought to make President George Bush look bad because he was insisting that Iran was a rogue nation that presented a growing threat in the Mideast and throughout the world.

Since it made George Bush look bad, it was therefore considered of major significance. As I noted in a December 2007 column, the mainstream media had been "doing a major blitz of the airwaves with the claim that Bush and Cheney had misled the American people and the world by saying that Iran was a nuclear threat."

The only problem was that the sum total of evidence in the National Intelligence Estimate that supported the proposal that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons development program in the fall of 2003 was the sentence that declared it so.

Indeed, throughout the report there were red flags as big as the nose on Pinocchio's face. Even in the very same sentence that declared Iran had "halted" its nuclear weapons program, it was also acknowledged that Iran "still may be able to develop a weapon between 2010 and 2015."

Well, welcome to 2010.

This month, the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency issued its own report and warned that Iran may indeed be working on building a nuclear warhead.

Right on schedule.

There was plenty of evidence back in late 2007 that Iran was doing just that, of course. In my earlier column, I pointed out that the National Intelligence Estimate judged "with moderate confidence that the earliest possible date Iran would be technically capable of producing enough HEU [highly enriched uranium] for a weapon is late 2009."

But the liberal media - apparently endeared with the idea that 2009 was some far distant future beyond our need for concern - just told the public what it wanted the public to know - "Bush is bad; Iran not so much."

So, like I said, where is the accountability now that the United Nations has confirmed the danger presented by the Iranian nuclear program?

It doesn't exist. This story, although reported extensively, has not been properly used to gauge the earlier befuddlement of both the U.S. intelligence operations and the major media outlets in their blithe acceptance of incredibly incompetent analysis.

Indeed, the AP reports that the U.S. assessment from 2007 "may be revised and is being looked at again by American intelligence agencies," but apparently it is being looked at with the same Mr. Magoo glasses as before. The myopic intelligence officials "continue to say the 2007 report was valid at the time, [but] they have not ruled out the possibility that Tehran resumed such work [on a nuclear warhead] some time after that."

Or it's possible they were actually doing the work the 2007 report suggested they were doing, and which other nations such as France, Germany, Britain and Israel have been saying all along.

We also found out from the new report that part of the evidence the U.S. had to ignore to write its tepid 2007 report was documentary evidence smuggled out of Iran in a laptop computer filled with smoking guns and burning fuses, figuratively speaking.

We are told by the recent AP story that "In 2005, U.S. intelligence assessed that information [on the laptop] as indicating that Tehran had been working on details of nuclear weapons, including missile trajectories and ideal altitudes for exploding nuclear warheads."

Oh well, at least there was no evidence of Iran trying to develop a nuclear bomb!

Between the Mr. Magoo glasses and the Pinocchio nose, America's spies are starting to stick out in a crowd. Move over, Inspector Clouseau; there's a new bumbling cop in town.

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