CIA’S NU­CLEAR DE­NIAL

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics -

A for­mer ca­reer in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cer last week crit­i­cized the CIA’s con­tro­ver­sial 2007 Na­tional In­tel­li­gence Es­ti­mate, say­ing that a re­cent up­date also was skewed in stat­ing that Iran halted all work on nu­clear arms in 2003.

Fred Fleitz, a for­mer CIA an­a­lyst and un­til re­cently a House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee staff mem­ber, wrote that U.S. in­tel­li­gence an­a­lysts for the past sev­eral years re­main “un­will­ing to con­duct a proper as­sess­ment of the Ira­nian nu­clear is­sue.”

The re­fusal puts them at odds with the White House, U.S. al­lies and even the United Na­tions, he said.

“Mount­ing ev­i­dence over the last few years has con­vinced most ex­perts that Iran has an ac­tive pro­gram to de­velop and con­struct nu­clear weapons,” Mr. Fleitz said in an op-ed col­umn in the Wall Street Jour­nal.

De­spite the grow­ing ev­i­dence of on­go­ing Ira­nian nu­clear arms work, “U.S. in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials are stand­ing by their as­sess­ment,” he said.

“In Fe­bru­ary, the 17 agen­cies of the U.S. in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity is­sued a highly clas­si­fied Na­tional In­tel­li­gence Es­ti­mate up­dat­ing their 2007 as­sess­ment,” he stated. “That es­ti­mate had been politi­cized by sev­eral of­fi­cials who feared how Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush might re­spond to a true ac­count of the Ira­nian threat.”

Mr. Fleitz said the Fe­bru­ary 2011 Iran Na­tional In­tel­li­gence Es­ti­mate was “poorly writ­ten and lit­tle im­prove­ment over the 2007 ver­sion.”

He noted that crit­i­cism of the re­vised re­port was blocked from pub­li­ca­tion by CIA cen­sors who re­viewed his news­pa­per col­umn, “in­clud­ing my se­ri­ous concern that it ma­nip­u­lated in­tel­li­gence ev­i­dence.”

“It is un­ac­cept­able that Iran is on the brink of test­ing a nu­clear weapon while our in­tel­li­gence an­a­lysts con­tinue to deny that an Ira­nian nu­clear weapons pro­gram ex­ists,” he said.

A more de­tailed cri­tique of the 2007 in­tel­li­gence re­port can be found in this re­porter’s 2008 book, “The Fail­ure Fac­tory.” is Evan S. Medeiros, a pro-China aca­demic now well-placed to in­flu­ence pol­icy as White House Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil spe­cial­ist on the Chinese mil­i­tary.

The pol­icy dis­pute has brought Mr. Medeiros into sev­eral pol­icy clashes with other Asia hands in the State Depart­ment, Pen­tagon and mil­i­tary and even the White House.

Repub­li­cans staff aides and a de­fense of­fi­cial told In­side the Ring that they be­lieve Mr. Medeiros is be­hind ef­forts to block the re­lease to Congress of the Pen­tagon’s an­nual re­port on the Chinese mil­i­tary, com­pleted months ago and due to Capi­tol Hill on March 1. The re­port is be­ing held back to avoid up­set­ting the Chinese, who rou­tinely de­nounce the re­port.

Mr. Medeiros also is be­ing blamed for pre­vent­ing the U.S. sale of 66 ad­vanced F-16 jets to Tai­wan that is ex­pected to anger Bei­jing and for hold­ing up a new sale of equip­ment to up­grade Tai­wan’s ex­ist­ing F-16s. And the sources say he has used bu­reau­cratic de­lay­ing tac­tics to block the re­lease of a sec­ond Pen­tagon re­port to Congress on the shift­ing air power bal­ance in the Tai­wan Strait.

One of­fi­cial said Mr. Medeiros also has tried to thwart a Pen­tagon task force from adopt­ing a new mil­i­tary strat­egy to­ward China based on bet­ter co­or­di­na­tion of U.S. air and naval forces.

White House spokesman Tommy Vi­etor de­clined re­quests from In­side the Ring to in­ter­view Mr. Medeiros. But Mr. Vi­etor said any as­ser­tion that Mr. Medeiros is be­hind the de­lays is “com­pletely wrong and wildly un­in­formed.”

Other China spe­cial­ists in the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity say Mr. Medeiros ad­vo­cates an ide­o­log­i­cal view that ex­ag­ger­ates Chinese sen­si­tiv­i­ties to any U.S. ef- fort to deal real­is­ti­cally with In­dia, Ja­pan and oth­ers in ad­dress­ing the China threat.

Mr. Medeiros’ track record on China is avail­able on­line in nu­mer­ous writ­ings on China’s mil­i­tary for more than a decade.

A read­ing of some his work shows he is an ad­her­ent of the di­min­ish­ing view among aca­demic an­a­lysts of China who as­sert that China’s mil­i­tary poses lit­tle or no threat, and that Bei­jing’s poli­cies are gen­er­ally be­nign, claims that have come un­der in­creas­ing skep­ti­cism.

A 2005 ar­ti­cle he wrote crit­i­cized any U.S. ef­fort to “hedge” against China’s rise by build­ing forces to counter China’s mil­i­tary buildup.

Last year, while in his Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil post, Mr. Medeiros co-wrote a jour­nal ar­ti­cle in In­ter­na­tional Se­cu­rity on China’s nu­clear forces that stated China has a small nu­clear force that is not use­ful for warfight­ing and is mainly for de­ter­rence and to pre­vent nu­clear black­mail.

That anal­y­sis is ques­tion­able be­cause U.S. of­fi­cials have said China’s nu­clear forces have ex­panded rapidly in re­cent years along with its large mis­sile forces. Re­ports from Asia say China’s nu­clear arse­nal could be three to five times the size of its es­ti­mated 400 nu­clear war­heads, with as many as 2,300 war­heads.

In 2009, Mr. Medeiros wrote that “China’s in­ter­na­tional be­hav­ior is not ide­o­log­i­cally driven.” As a re­sult, he clashed with U.S. Pa­cific Com­mand of­fi­cials.

Mr. Medeiros, in in­ter­nal emails, sided with China when the U.S. Pa­cific Com­mand crit­i­cized Bei­jing for back­ing Py­ongyang over the find­ings of an in­ter­na­tional panel that said a North Korean sub­ma­rine sank a South Korean war­ship.

Mr. Medeiros also has been crit­i­cized for writ­ing that China is not seek­ing to dis­place the United States as the pre­dom­i­nant global power, and, as he said in a Rand mono­graph, that China is not seek­ing to “con­front the United States or ex­pel it from the re­gion.”

That as­ser­tion was shown to be false in 2009, when then-Pa­cific Com­mand com­man­der Adm. Tim Keat­ing re­vealed how a Chinese ad­mi­ral pro­posed di­vid­ing the Pa­cific into two spheres, west­ern waters con­trolled by China and east­ern seas un­der U.S. forces. The pro­posal was re­jected.

In 2008, Mr. Medeiros cowrote a mono­graph stat­ing that East Asia is not grad­u­ally fall­ing un­der Chinese hege­mony. Mil­i­tary lead­ers at the Pa­cific Com­mand, how­ever, have said China is qui­etly ex­pand­ing its hege­mony in the re­gion.

Mr. Medeiros op­posed U.S. diplo­matic ef­forts to bol­ster Ja­pan af­ter threats from Bei­jing forced Tokyo to re­lease a Chinese fish­ing boat cap­tain ar­rested for il­le­gally fish­ing in Ja­panese waters. He also backed the U.S. Navy’s cav­ing in to pres­sure not to send an air­craft car­rier to the Yel­low Sea ear­lier this year amid Chinese threats.

Bill Gertz can be reached at in­sid­e­ther ing@wash­ing­ton­times.com.

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