How a special search for Iran’s nuclear arms program turned up nothing
By Peter Baker and Dafna Linzer
The Washington Post
WASHINGTON — They call them "deep dives," special briefings at which President Bush meets with not only his advisers but also the intelligence analysts who study Iran. Starting last year, aides arranged a series of sessions for Bush to "get his hands dirty," in the White House vernacular for digging into intelligence to understand what is known and not known.
Preparing for what might be the defining foreign-policy challenge of his final years in office, Bush was struck by the limited intelligence on Iran’s nuclear program and pressed for more, said officials familiar with the sessions. But if Bush hoped for solid evidence that Iran was trying to build nuclear bombs, what came back proved more surprising: Iran did have a nuclear-weapons program but shut it down four years ago.
Five years after the botched assessment of Iraq’s weapons programs, the new information, released in a report last week, posed profound challenges to the Bush administration: How could officials be sure it was right this time? What would it mean for Bush’s policy of international confrontation with Iran? And should Congress, U.S. allies and the public know?