Politics

Maybe they bought it off the Internet

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Okay, a lot of people won’t take the UN’s word for anything. But in this case, they seem to have a point.

U.N. inspectors investigating Iran’s nuclear program angrily complained to the Bush administration and to a Republican congressman yesterday about a recent House committee report on Iran’s capabilities, calling parts of the document “outrageous and dishonest” and offering evidence to refute its central claims. …

Privately, several intelligence officials said the committee report included at least a dozen claims that were either demonstrably wrong or impossible to substantiate. Hoekstra’s office said the report was reviewed by the office of John D. Negroponte, the director of national intelligence.

The report was written by a single GOP staffer — Fredrick Fleitz — who has hard-line views on Iran and ties to UN Ambassador John Bolton. It was not voted on or discussed by the full committee; Republicans simply made it public.

Among the errors:

1. The committee said Iran is producing weapons-grade plutonium, which usually means 90 percent enriched. Iran has in fact only managed to enrich uranium to 3.5 percent.

2. The committee said the IAEA had removed an inspector because he raised concerns about Iranian deception. The inspector has not been removed.

3. Most obnoxiously, the report asserted, without evidence, that the IAEA director had an “unstated” policy of keeping inspectors from telling the truth about Iran.

All this makes me wonder if this is a peek inside the intelligence-massaging techniques that led to the invasion of Iraq. With breathtaking chutzpah, the report makes unsubstantiated assertions about Iran’s nuclear capabilities — and then chastises intelligence agencies for failing to provide information that supports those assertions.

Make your own reality, and then go dig up (or make up) evidence to support it.

Here’s the kicker:

Hoekstra’s committee is working on a separate report about North Korea that is also being written principally by Fleitz. A draft of the report, provided to The Post, includes several assertions about North Korea’s weapons program that the intelligence officials said they cannot substantiate, including one that Pyongyang is already enriching uranium.

The intelligence community believes North Korea is trying to acquire an enrichment capability but has no proof that an enrichment facility has been built, the officials said.

Fabulous.