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Trump Seeks ‘Cooked’ Intelligence to Renege on the Nuclear Deal

The Trump White House is reportedly pushing [1] intelligence analysts to find Iranian violations of the JCPOA when they don’t exist:

US intelligence officials are under pressure from the White House to produce a justification to declare Iran in violation of a 2015 nuclear agreement, in an echo of the politicisation of intelligence that led up to the Iraq invasion, according to former officials and analysts.

It is telling that the White House has to resort to manipulating the intelligence on Iran and the nuclear deal, as it shows that the only way to discover Iranian violations of the deal is to distort intelligence analysis and make them up. Trump’s desire [2] to renege on the deal has been obvious for some time, especially when he practically promised [3] to deny that Iran was in compliance with the agreement earlier this summer regardless of the facts. According to this latest report, the White House first wants to cook the intelligence so they will have some pretext for doing that. The attempt to pressure analysts into giving the White House the answers it wants may be backfiring because of the obvious similarities to what the Bush administration did before the invasion of Iraq:

“Anecdotally, I have heard this from members of the intelligence community – that they feel like they have come under pressure,” said Ned Price, a former CIA analyst who also served as a national security council spokesman and special assistant to Barack Obama. “They told me there was a sense of revulsion. There was a sense of déjà vu. There was a sense of ‘we’ve seen this movie before’.” [bold mine-DL]


Regardless of what one thinks about the merits of the nuclear deal, Iran has been complying with its obligations. That has been verified by the IAEA on multiple occasions since the agreement was made. Assuming that it hasn’t and then distorting intelligence in order to back that up not only “stands the intelligence process on its head,” as former CIA deputy director David Cohen puts it, but it goes looking for a problem where none currently exists.

22 Comments (Open | Close)

22 Comments To "Trump Seeks ‘Cooked’ Intelligence to Renege on the Nuclear Deal"

#1 Comment By Slugger On August 28, 2017 @ 9:27 am

Our American system seems to require an enemy who is totally, unredeemably evil. We have lots of them over the years. Recently, ISIS played that part, but they are being beat back by a coalition of -gasp- Shiite forces. Then it was North Korea, but they have actually developed some nuclear capability which puts them beyond our reach. Iran can play that role nicely, and this pleases our good friends in Riyadh.

#2 Comment By EliteCommInc. On August 28, 2017 @ 11:05 am

If that is accurate,

that is a horrible idea.

No point in picking fights we don’t need.

#3 Comment By Fred Bowman On August 28, 2017 @ 11:25 am

Didn’t anybody learn anything from Iraq? How much different things would if the Bush Administration hadn’t “cooked the books” to justify the War in Iraq, and what has been gotten in return? Now Trump wants to do the same thing in Iran. Exactly what does he expect to gain from this? Weren’t any lessons learned? This is no doubt one of Trump’s “Fools Folly”.

#4 Comment By Chris Chuba On August 28, 2017 @ 11:41 am

Is he not aware or does he lack the courage to simply negate the agreement as he did the Paris Accord, why does he act as if he has to go through this charade?

It is an executive agreement, he can nullify it and then accept the consequences. This would be better than destroying the reputation of our Intelligence Agencies yet again.

#5 Comment By who wants it? On August 28, 2017 @ 11:46 am

If the idea is to do what Israel and Saudi Arabia want, then Trump needs to cook up lies to justify it to the American people, because Israeli/Saudi wants directly conflict with American interests.

#6 Comment By philadelphialawyer On August 28, 2017 @ 12:23 pm

So much for the conspiracy theory of the “Deep State,” including, quite prominently, the intelligence agencies, forcing would-be dove and non interventionist Trump into war.

#7 Comment By David M On August 28, 2017 @ 3:23 pm

It’s worth noting that this endeavor is a complete waste of time. We have an agreement in place, this constant carping about it and second guessing it isn’t actually productive.

Even assuming it’s not as good as it should be, we should be looking to improve the agreement, not break it.

#8 Comment By Jay C On August 28, 2017 @ 3:27 pm

@Chris Chuba:

…why does he act as if he has to go through this charade?”

I think one reason may be that not only Iran, but the rest of the P5+1 group that negotiated the Iran nuclear deal have all already stated that they will be abiding by the terms of the JCPOA Agreement, regardless of what the US does. I’m guessing (well, more of “hoping”, really) that even Donald Trump doesn’t want to turn the US totally into a “rogue nation” on the international scene: and thus has to [“obsessively”? “frantically”? “pathetically”?] gin up some sort of evidence to back up his Iran-bashing fixations. Obviously, to the point of inventing some, if necessary.

#9 Comment By rayray On August 28, 2017 @ 3:48 pm

Trump did the same thing with his beautiful wall that Mexico was going to pay for. Anyone who was at all living in reality knew that both the idea and the plan for paying for it was ridiculous. But it played brilliantly with a certain portion of the electorate who responded to the coded language.

Now he’s stuck making sense of it or there is some risk he reveals the truth…which is that he is a fool.

Same thing with Obamacare. Same thing with the Iran deal. Same thing with tariffs. And going back a bit…same thing with his birtherism. Same thing with the Central Park Five. Same thing with most everything Trump touches. He is a vain, ignorant, destructive marketing genius whose number one product is always and only himself.

#10 Comment By Geoff Guth On August 28, 2017 @ 5:00 pm

You’ve probably seen this already, but John Bolton has posted his [4] at National Review. Apparently Steve Bannon solicited it and it got shelved when Bannon left.

#11 Comment By William Dalton On August 28, 2017 @ 6:16 pm

Donald Trump has already eviscerated U.S. responsibility under the JCPOA, by reimposing the sanctions relief promised under other pretexts. So what would be gained by formally reneging on the agreement? The only thing that would be changed, presuming that the other signatories would also yield to American pressures to reimpose their own economic sanctions upon Iran, is that Iran would then be freed to do those things forbidden to them under the agreement. What does that gain Donald Trump? It certainly gains nothing for the American people.

#12 Comment By Mark On August 28, 2017 @ 7:07 pm

@David M –

It’s the same with Paris. It’s the same with ACA. It’s the same with the DREAMers. I could go on…

Doesn’t matter it’s merits – It’s something tagged to Obama and must be destroyed.

#13 Comment By Whine Merchant On August 28, 2017 @ 7:43 pm

So… this is the way the ‘Great Negotiator’ makes those fantastic deals he promised.

Sorry, Trumpie – you cannot hit reset and wipe the slate clean in diplomacy like you did when you declared bankruptcy in business.

#14 Comment By neighborhood quant On August 28, 2017 @ 9:08 pm

Just as Obama turned out to be even worse than Bush II, Trump bids fair to be even worse than Obama. It’s as though he’s trying – deliberately trying – to betray and anger the people who voted for him. I really don’t get it.

That said, and acknowledging that he’s already shown himself to be a total Israel Lobby dupe, I still find it hard to believe he would ask his people to lie us into breaking the deal with Iran.

#15 Comment By john On August 29, 2017 @ 3:13 am

Well Trump was a prominent “birther” so his evidentiary standards are not high.

As for the intelligence agencies, why won’t they go along? What happened to the folks that ginned up intelligence last time? Did they leave in disgrace? There will be some ambitious young thing that will go along.

#16 Comment By EliteCommInc. On August 29, 2017 @ 5:07 am

From the Guardian article

“It seems there is a faction within the administration that is trying to lay the basis for getting out [of the agreement] on the basis of cooked books.”

There are plenty of reasons to be Leary about Iran – plenty And plenty to consider them with our guard up at all times.

But it has been our mistakes that have empowered them. Ambassador Haley is correct, there are sites that are off limits as part of the agreement. But aside from advocating for access, baking out of the deal will not change that.

#17 Comment By EliteCommInc. On August 29, 2017 @ 5:10 am

To the above quotation.

It’s the intel community’s job to tell it straight regardless of the pressure.

#18 Comment By icarusr On August 29, 2017 @ 8:48 am

“Just as Obama turned out to be even worse than Bush II”

That kind of facile thinking gets you Trump. Hope you’re enjoying the ride.

#19 Comment By rayray On August 29, 2017 @ 2:15 pm

Well said.

#20 Comment By liberal On August 29, 2017 @ 4:50 pm

neighborhood quant wrote,

Just as Obama turned out to be even worse than Bush II, …

Huh? Bush II criminally invaded Iraq, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands and the destabilization of much of the Middle East.

Obama wasn’t great on FP, but he wasn’t nearly as horrible as Bush II. (Had HRC won last November, she’d probably be worse on FP than Obama.)

#21 Comment By BadZ On August 30, 2017 @ 5:16 am

Even CNN is helpful to Bolton, referring twice to ‘Iran’s nuclear weapons program’ as if that is something that we know exists. Fake news indeed.


#22 Comment By Greg in PDX On August 30, 2017 @ 12:50 pm

@icarusr I was just going to write that…..