The Iranian test of probability

One cannot understand the first thing about the meaning of the NIE consensus judgments on Iran’s nuclear program without reading them with one’s own eyes. The consensus judgments report is available on the site of the DNI as Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities.
Shmuel Rosner is Haaretz’s American coorespondent and he has clearly done so. His column or post “The Iranian test of probability” makes important points based on his reading of the NIE. He concludes with an observation that quotes the NIE’s final judgment:

“We assess with high confidence that Iran has the scientific, technical and industrial capacity to eventually produce nuclear weapons if it decides to do so,” stated the gloomy American assessment. The Israeli report that has not been written would have phrased it thus: We assess with high confidence that American intelligence is again finding it difficult to distinguish between the important and the trivial. We assess with high confidence that the Iranians are playing tricks on it. We assess with moderate confidence that in the current circumstances President Bush has lost his ability to act with the necessary determination.

Two years ago, as the report notes, the NIE assessed with high confidence that Iran was pursuing the development of nuclear weapons. This week the NIE assesses the opposite with high confidence. Wouldn’t one who believes in the use of “intelligence” to formulate policy err on the side of caution under the circumstances?


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