Glenn Greenwald


Monday Jan. 12, 2009 08:43 EST
Obama v. the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran

(updated below)
Regarding Barack Obama's statements about Iran yesterday during his ABC News interview, Charles Davis makes an excellent point (h/t Jonathan Schwarz):
President-elect Barack Obama in an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos:
Iran is going to be one of our biggest challenges and as I said during the campaign we have a situation in which not only is Iran exporting terrorism through Hamas, through Hezbollah but they are pursuing a nuclear weapon that could potentially trigger a nuclear arms race.
The 2007 National Intelligence Estimate on Iran (pdf), the consensus opinion of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies:
We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program.
Naturally, Stephanopolous asked Obama -- as any competent, professional journalist would -- to explain why he disagreed with the findings of the intelligence community and of the international inspectors on the ground:
STEPHANOPOULOS: And you have to do something about it in your first year.
So it goes.
There's usually no shortage of people willing to defend Obama's statements and explain what he really means. I recall, after Obama voted for warrantless eavesdropping and telecom immunity back last August, reading in numerous places -- for the first time ever -- that the FISA controversy wasn't really all that important, that warrantless eavesdropping wasn't much of a threat, that Democrats had no choice but to support this bill lest they lose the election, that nobody will die or starve if the Government eavesdrops, etc. etc.
And yesterday -- after Obama signaled his reluctance to investigate Bush lawbreaking and explained that he can't close Guantanamo until there is a new "process" allowing "tainted" evidence to be used -- my comment section was full of people explaining why Obama can't possibly investigate (let alone prosecute) Bush officials for crimes, and that it's more important to keep Dangerous Terrorists imprisoned than it is to abide by long-standing principles of American law and Western justice which prohibit the use of "tainted" evidence (meaning, at least in part, confessions and other evidence obtained by torture), even though we have repeatedly been successful in obtaining convictions of Dangerous Terrorists in our federal court system both before and after 9/11. Some pro-Obama bloggers echoed those claims.
So what's the justification for Obama's inflammatory and obviously consequential (though seemingly baseless) claim on national television that the Iranians "are pursuing a nuclear weapon that could potentially trigger a nuclear arms race" when the consensus of American intelligence agencies is that they are not doing so?

Obama v. the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran - Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com

So does this mean we have to worry as much about a war against Iran under Obama as we did under Bush?