Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Congressional Responses to the NIE

Here are some selected quotes from Members of Congress to the National Intelligence Estimate and President Bush's response to the NIE.

“In October, President Bush raised the specter of World War III with Iran because of its pursuit of a nuclear weapon months after he had been told by our own intelligence community it was likely Iran had halted its weapons program in 2003.

“After all that Americans have been through, for this President to knowingly disregard or misrepresent intelligence about an issue of war and peace, is outrageous. It’s exactly what he did in the run up to the war in Iraq in consistently exaggerating intelligence suggesting that Iraq had WMD, while failing to tell the American people about intelligence concluding that it did not. It further undermines America’s credibility around the world – and the government’s credibility here at home – at a time when that credibility is at an all-time low. And it injects more tension and instability into the Middle East at a time when we should be doing everything in our power to prevent that region from spiraling out of control.”
Senator Joseph Biden (Delaware)
December 4, 2007

“At first blush, this looks like a good news story. Good because the intelligence community was willing to reconsider an important intelligence judgment. More importantly, it's good news that Iran doesn't appear to be currently working on a bomb.”
Senator Kit Bond (Missouri)
December 3, 2007

"I vehemently disagree with the president that nothing has changed and therefore nothing in American policy has to change. He should seize this opportunity and engage in serious diplomacy using both carrots and sticks.”
Senator Hilary Clinton (New York)
December 4, 2007

“On Iran and the NIE report, I think we've got a couple of things that I think are very important and worth noting. One, is we no longer have to have a policy that's either based by hype and fear, but can now be clear-eyed and hardheaded as it approaches the Iranians. We do not have to operate from fear or weakness. We have strength here. And I think the NIE report shows that.”
Representative Rahm Emanuel (Illinois-5)
December 4, 2007

"Iran's nuclear program remains a serious concern but it is clear from the [intelligence estimate] that vigorous and coordinated diplomacy is the right way to approach it.”
Senator Russ Feingold (Wisconsin)
December 3, 2007

“The United States must employ a comprehensive strategy that uses all elements of its foreign policy arsenal, in particular offering ‘direct, unconditional and comprehensive talks’ with Iran – where all issues, ours and Iran’s, are on the table, including offering Iran a credible way back from the fringes of the international community, security guarantees, and other incentives. Our strategy must be one focused on direct and comprehensive engagement and diplomacy…backed by the leverage of international pressure, military options, isolation and containment. Now is the time for America to act in light of the NIE report and the momentum generated by the Annapolis Middle East meeting last week.”
Senator Chuck Hagel (Nebraska)
December 3, 2007

“This newest information supports what I have said all along: We need to give diplomacy with Iran more of a chance. I continue to favor dialogue between our two countries, in contrast to the Administration’s belligerent and stiff-necked refusal to talk with Tehran. And I believe we need to use every means at our disposal – economic, political and diplomatic – to persuade Iranians that peaceful development of energy options, free of any hint of military use, is well within reach.

“In its unclassified report, the intelligence community has judged that Iran makes its decisions about a nuclear weapons program based on a cost-benefit analysis. This suggests that Tehran may be open to a combination of pressure and incentives to keep it from returning to developing a nuclear arsenal. And the latest publicly-available intelligence indicates that it will take longer for Iran to produce sufficient materials for a nuclear weapon than previously thought. So we have more time – beyond the end of the current Administration – to continue to push for this mixture of pressure and incentives."
Representative Tom Lantos (CA-12)
December 4, 2007

"It is absolutely clear that this administration and President Bush continues to not let facts get in the way of his ideology. They need, now, to aggressively move on the diplomatic front. They should have stopped the rattling -- should never have started it.”
Senator Barack Obama (Illinois)
December 4, 2007

"While we should harbor no illusions about the intentions of some Iranian leaders, the new Iran NIE suggests there is time for a new policy toward Iran that deters it from restarting its nuclear program while also improving relations overall."
Representative Nancy Pelosi (CA-8)
December 3, 2007

“President Bush’s heated rhetoric on Iran – including comments about a potential World War III – is even more outrageous now that we know the intelligence community had informed him that it believes Iran had stopped its nuclear weapons program four years ago. This is the latest in a long line of inaccurate and misleading comments that got us into the Iraq war to begin with. They further diminish the credibility of a President with a dangerous record of overstating threats.“In light of yesterday’s remarkable new National Intelligence Estimate on Iran, I urge the President at his press conference today to announce a top-to-bottom review of his Iran policy and a diplomatic surge to advance U.S. interests with regard to Iran. He should announce that his Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense are prepared to meet anytime, anywhere with their Iranian counterparts to conduct vigorous diplomacy to advance U.S. interests and address the challenges of Iran.”
Senator Harry Reid (Nevada)
December 4, 2007

“The key judgments show that the intelligence community has learned its lessons from the Iraq debacle. It has issued judgments that break sharply with its own previous assessments, and they reflect a real difference from the views espoused by top administration officials.”
Senator Jay Rockefeller (West Virginia)
December 3, 2007

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