CIA Off the Mark on Iran’s Election

June 27, 2009 at 11:17 am | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

Really? The CIA? Off the mark? Not getting it right? No freaking way. Not America’s intelligence agency. No way they would get it wrong…

President Obama’s cautious response to election results in Iran may be partly explained by the fact that U.S. intelligence agencies were off the mark in assessments they gave the White House and lawmakers. Five officials familiar with intel reporting and analysis, who asked for anonymity to discuss sensitive material, say most experts at the CIA and other intel agencies initially believed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won reelection solidly—and that if there was fraud, it was at the margins.

The agencies were caught off guard by the Iranian authorities’ maladroit handling of election results (an overwhelming Ahmadinejad victory was announced only hours after the polls closed) and by what came next. “Lots of people were surprised by the outbreak of protests,” says one of the officials. Even after the street erupted, some U.S. experts still maintained that Ahmadinejad won big and that the protests would run their course more quickly than they did. “We were slow on the uptake,” Pete Hoekstra, the ranking Republican on the House intelligence committee, tells NEWSWEEK. “I think we’re still behind the curve.” Still, one U.S. intel official insists: “The speed with which the Iranians announced the results, and the margin they gave Ahmadinejad, were signs there would be trouble. They weren’t missed.”

Maybe I need to go work for the CIA because I’m sure I could do a far better job at explaining what’s going on in Iran from my comfortable seat here at home than these analysts the CIA employ. I mean, com’on guys, don’t you guys read up the literature on nationalism and revolutions? It’s right there. It’s been analyzed before. It’s not surprising at all.

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