Don’t Iraq Iran: Foolproof the Intelligence

Roger Z. George, a former national intelligence officer who teaches at the National War College in Washington, explains how to avoid making the same mistakes the US made before invading Iraq in 2003, with Iran:

– set extremely high standards for evidence
– don’t over-rely on information gathered and supplied by foreign governments
– keep U.S.personnel at arm’s length from policy discussions
– never call on the intelligence community to make the case for intervention, as was the situation in 2003
– have the intelligence community prepare candid assessments of the effect military strikes against Iran’s    
  nuclear facilities could have on both Iranian politics and regional stability

He concludes:

Needless to say, the decision to attack another Islamic state would carry consequences far beyond reducing Iran’s military potential, and the intelligence community needs to analyze those consequences concurrently with its analysis of intelligence regarding Iran’s nuclear intentions.

These steps will not guarantee that intelligence used to reach the important decisions regarding Iran will be perfect. Clearly, it will not be. However, the intelligence community should not repeat mistakes it made in 2002 and 2003, nor allow itself to become the scapegoat for decisions that properly reside with the nation’s political and military leadership.

Jasmin Ramsey

Jasmin Ramsey is a journalist based in Washington, DC.