With the revelation that the recently released National Intelligence Estimate concluded that Iran stopped developing nuclear weapons in 2003, conservatives have been frantically spinning those results. Chief among the spinners is Newsmax's Kenneth Timmerman, who has dragged a conspiracy theory into the mix.
In a Dec. 4 article, Timmerman claimed that the report "was coordinated and written by former State Department political and intelligence analysts — not by more seasoned members of the U.S. intelligence community" and that the claim that Iran suspended its nuclear weapons program "is based on a single, unvetted source who provided information to a foreign intelligence service and has not been interviewed directly by the United States." Timmerman then goes on to bash each of the analysts he claims were responsible for the NIE.
Timmerman builds on the conspiracy in a Dec. 6 article, in which he claims that Republicans "suspect that 'shadow warriors' opposed to the president are skewing the intelligence for political ends." Gee, what a coincidence -- Timmerman just happens to have published a book called "Shadow Warriors" in he makes that very same claim.
Timmerman goes on to quote an anonymous (of course) source as saying, "This is CIA pay-back to the president for having made them, not FBI, take the rap for the failures that led up to 9/11."
The idea that doves in the intelligence community are deliberately undermining the Bush administration for political purposes underpins not only Timmerman's book but also Rowan Scarborough's book "Sabotage: America's Enemies in the CIA." Funny, we don't recall them considering the idea that the Bush aministration is acting with political motives as well. Noted neocon John Podhoretz has made a similar claim.
Timmerman and Scarborough, if you'll recall, teamed up to bash Michael Sulick, a longtime CIA official who fell out of favor under CIA director Porter Goss and returned to the agency after Goss left. Both Timmerman and Scarborough remain big supporters of Goss. (Scarborough, a reporter for the Washington Examiner at the time, wrote a less inflammatory article a few days later, then "retired" from the Examiner shortly afterwards.)
The funny thing about that is that Newsmax's Ronald Kessler -- himself no slouch in the Bush-fluffing and CIA-lionizing department -- has his own version of the Sulick episode that doesn't quite jibe with that of fellow Newsmaxer Timmerman. In a Dec. 8 article claiming that the person responsible for destroying CIA tapes of coercive interrogation of terrorism suspects was Jose Rodriguez Jr., the head of the CIA’s Directorate of Operations under Goss, Kessler wrote:
At the same time, some CIA operatives suggest that Rodriguez felt he could get away with ordering the destruction on his own because CIA management was so dysfunctional under Goss. Goss surrounded himself with a tight circle of former Capitol Hill aides who engaged in ego battles with widely admired and successful CIA officers.
One example was Stephen R. Kappes, a former Moscow and Kuwait Station chief who played a pivotal role in secret talks that led Muammar al-Qaddafi of Libya to give up his program to develop weapons of mass destruction. Kappes resigned from the CIA when Patrick Murray, who was chief of staff to Goss, ordered Kappes to fire his deputy, Michael Sulick, after Sulick criticized Murray over the nasty way he had treated another CIA officer. [Goss replacement Michael] Hayden has since brought Kappes back to the agency, promoting him to deputy director.
Hmmm. That's not the story Timmerman and Scarborough told. Will we see an intra-Newsmax war over just how much Goss sucked as DNI?