In August 2006, I wrote a piece for the Washington Post, “Share the Evidence on Iran,” which called on the George W. Bush administration to declassify the main findings of a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program. As many aspects of Iran’s progress towards nuclear capability had already been selectively leaked to the media, I argued that “declassifying the key judgments and dissents would publicly establish the intelligence community opinion” and clarify erroneous judgments.
My argument, formulated after reading several hundred declassified NIEs for a research project, was that, if President Bush authorized a preemptive attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities, his administration should put forth a compelling and qualified rationale for the necessity of such a risky endeavor. This should include the public release of the most accurate U.S. government estimates—in this case, the NIE—sanitized so as not to reveal classified sources or methods. President Bush was certainly aware of this reality when he revealed in 2006: “People will say, if we’re trying to make the case on Iran, ‘Well, the intelligence failed in Iraq, therefore how can we trust the intelligence in Iran?”