President Trump is right: The Intelligence Community botched Iran threat

· January 30, 2019  
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Iran supreme leader ali Khamenei
Pool/Press Office of Iranian Supreme Leader/Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

President Trump fired off a series of tweets Wednesday expressing his dissatisfaction with how Iran is presented in the latest Worldwide Threats Assessment produced under the direction of Dan Coats, who is responsible for the annual report as the director of national intelligence.

Anti-Trump pundits and television networks predictably attacked the president for refusing to blindly accept the totality of the report, claiming that this was more evidence of a president who must at once be removed from office and/or is unfit as commander in chief.

However, this is largely the same Intelligence Community (IC) that became hyper-politicized and weaponized during the Obama administration and relied on questionable information, such as the Clinton-funded Steele dossier, to substantiate Russia’s supposed impact on the 2016 election. Given that reality, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that this IC product appears at times to passive-aggressively take issue with President Trump’s foreign policy decisions.

The annual report sends confusing signals about the Iran nuclear deal, which the president withdrew from last year, citing the deal’s weakness and its severe lack of benefits to U.S. strategic interests.

For one, it reads as a politicized endorsement of the nuclear deal, falsely contending that the Iran deal, or JCPOA, somehow has enforceable limits in place that restrict Iran from advancing its nuclear program.

The Iran deal fundamentally empowered the terrorist regime in Tehran. Far from stopping the regime from acquiring a nuclear weapon, it provided a road map to a sophisticated nuclear weapons program. Moreover, the Iran deal was one agreement that was part of a comprehensive Obama administration strategy to realign the Middle East in Tehran’s favor. 

The IC assessment incorrectly and bizarrely labels Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as a “centrist,” when he is anything but moderate. Rouhani is a Holocaust denier who has openly encouraged Iran-backed terrorist groups to export Iran’s ideology through force throughout the region. Additionally, in labeling Rouhani a centrist, the IC product contends that there is a strong ideological divide within the Islamic supremacist regime. 

In an effort to sell the deal with the Tehran regime, the legacy media and Obama administration officials took pains to separate so-called regime “reformists” from “hardliners.” The 2019 IC assessment claims on three separate occasions that the influence of “hardliners,” and not the fundamental nature of the Tehran regime, is the driving force for anti-U.S. and anti-West hostilities. This is a serious misread.

This hardliners-versus-moderates or centrists distinction is deliberately deceptive. Any individual running for president or a seat in parliament in Iran goes through a substantial vetting process by trusted elements of the regime. Many who want to run for elected office are ruled out by those vetting authorities and immediately forbidden to run for office, if it is determined that they present a threat to the future of the regime. All “elected” officials in Iran are committed to the regime’s expansionist ideology. Only their tactical approach to pursuing that endgame is different. 

Additionally, while the Worldwide Threat Assessment does in fact mention Iran’s strongest proxy terrorist organization in “Lebanese Hizballah,” the assessment fails to point out that the Lebanon-based Shiite jihadi group is entirely subservient to Tehran. 

The threat assessment of Iran isn’t entirely inaccurate. It does take note of Iran’s growing and aggressive cyber warfare campaigns, its support for the Houthis and Hezbollah, the IRGC’s intrusion into multiple foreign countries, and Iran’s unjust detention of U.S. citizens. However, that doesn’t discount the Intelligence Community’s failure to understand that it is the regime’s radical ideology, which all of its officials are fully committed to, that is its driving force.

The IC’s high-profile annual report of course touches on many other issues, such as the growing threat from China and Russia, in addition to non-state actors such as international terrorist organizations. It also draws substantial attention to the increasing cyber warfare capabilities of our major adversaries. You can read it here.


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Author: Jordan Schachtel

Jordan Schachtel is the national security correspondent for Conservative Review and editor of The Dossier for Blaze Media. Follow him on Twitter @JordanSchachtel.