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House chairmen want to avoid a repeat of the rush to war in 2003 in Iraq.
Chairmen of the three House national security committees have written to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to demand a briefing and doccuments on an Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance Report, particularly as it relates to Iran. Iran has become a focus of increased tensions with the United States.
Signals have been coming from the Trump administration that hostility with Iran could break out imminently.
Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Eliot Engel (D-NY), and Adam Smith (D-Wash.), chairmen of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Armed Services Committees respectively, sent a letter to Pompeo raising serious concerns over the abuse of classification and politicization of intelligence regarding Iran and other countries in the State Department’s 2019 Report on Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments.
The State Department issued its annual report April 15 assessing the United States’ and other nations’ adherence to a range of arms control and nonproliferation treaties. As required by law, State prepared this intelligence-informed report with the “concurrence” of the director of the Central Intelligence Agency. This year’s report disproportionately focused on Iran to the exclusion of other countries with serious proliferation concerns, including Russia and North Korea, the chairmen said in a statement.
News organizations have since reported deep concerns of intelligence officers and State Department officials that the report “politicizes and slants assessments about Iran.” Moreover, State Department officials who released the report moved fully unclassified sections of the report to the classified annex, leaving an unclassified product that emphasized non-factual information regarding Iranian compliance, the House chairmen added.
In the letter, the chairmen raise concerns that the report provides significantly less unclassified information, that the administration selectively ignores facts or injects non-factual information, and that the administration has failed to file a key report to congress about Iranian compliance with the nuclear deal. As part of the letter, the chairmen request an immediate briefing and documents related to the preparation of the report be provided to their committees.
“We are deeply concerned by recent reporting that the 2019 State Department Report on Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments, which the State Department submitted to Congress on April 15, may have been the product of political appointees disregarding intelligence or distorting its meaning in order to potentially ‘lay the groundwork to justify military action’ against countries mentioned in the report,” the letter said, in part.
“…Our nation knows all too well the perils of ignoring and ‘cherry-picking’ intelligence in foreign policy and national security decisions, as evidenced by a prior White House’s disregard of the intelligence community’s analysis on Iraq and its selective use of Iraq-related intelligence to justify the march to war in 2003.”
They also announced that the Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Armed Services Committees will be conducting rigorous oversight over allegations of politicization of intelligence regarding Iran.