Intelligence on Iran Still Lacking

In recent months, some U.S. analysts and policymakers have raised doubts about the quality and credibility of American intelligence on Iran. With few actual spies on the ground in Iran and no consular presence in Tehran, not to mention the United States’ limited intelligence gleaned from satellite imagery and data, some question the reliability of evidence regarding Iran’s involvement in Iraq and its uranium-enrichment program. Making matters worse, Tehran has restricted access to some international inspectors there to observe its enrichment activities. Much like the run-up to the war in Iraq, U.S. officials must rely on intelligence from American allies in the region, Iranian exiles and political groups with dubious intentions, and a Dubai-based “listening post” aimed at collecting information from Iranians doing business in the Gulf. Hovering above all these challenges, of course, are credibility problems stemming from the mishandling of intelligence before the war in Iraq.

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