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January 29, 2007
US Declassifying Intel On Iranian Role

American intelligence officials will declassify data that shows the Iranian efforts to foment disorder and terrorism in Iraq, according to Eli Lake of the New York Sun. The effort comes in response to the publicly-announced skepticism of Democratic leadership in Congress, and may wind up as an Internet site for mass dissemination:

New evidence of Iran's role in Iraq will be made [public] in Baghdad by the chief spokesman for the multinational forces in Iraq, Major General William Caldwell. The Directorate of National Intelligence worked over the weekend to clear new intelligence and information that sources inside the intelligence community said would implicate Iran in deliberately sending particularly lethal improvised explosives to terrorists to kill coalition soldiers.

The intelligence community is currently debating whether to make the new evidence, which it plans to declassify, available on the Internet.

The plan to present the evidence will coincide with a presentation this week by Ambassador Khalilzad to the press detailing the charges against Iranian operatives affiliated with the country's Quds Force arrested in the last six weeks in three raids.

The decision to go public with new evidence on Iran's role in fomenting Iraq's civil war and in working with terrorists killing American soldiers marks a change in strategy for the Bush administration, which has until now provided scant evidence to the public about Iran's role in the Iraq conflict. Since the president unveiled his new war strategy on January 10, leading Democrats have challenged claims of Iran's role and intentions in the Iraq war.

Leading the skeptics are Jay Rockefeller and Silvestre Reyes, the new chairs for the Senate and House intel committees. Rockefeller called it "Iraq all over again" after President Bush announced the surge earlier this month, suggesting that the administration either cooked up the evidence or is deliberately overreading it to justify action against Iran. Reyes took a softer tone, but said he wanted to investigate claims that Iran has manufactured IEDs used to attack American forces and kill American troops.

Declassifying and publishing the intel would certainly force both to acknowledge the existence of the data. However, it could also create risk for the people gathering the intel, and not just American sources. Some of the implications of the data make it risky for allies within the Iraqi government, who still have to work with Iran just due to proximity.

What can be declassified should be published, however. Given the failures of the intelligence on Iraq over several years, the American people have become somewhat skeptical of conclusions based on secret information gathered by the same agencies. If the government wants to build a case for tough policies on Iran, they need to provide as much of the data as possible in order to form a consensus that action is needed at all.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 29, 2007 5:55 AM

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