By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell said yesterday that a long-awaited intelligence estimate covering Iran's nuclear program will be finished by the end of this month, attributing the delay to new information collected in late spring that caused a reconsideration of some elements of the assessment.
"We had more information that inserted some new questions, so the effort has been to sort that out," McConnell said at a luncheon at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Following a recently announced policy, McConnell said he does not intend to release an unclassified version of the estimate's key judgments.
McConnell also said that he does not want "a situation where the young analysts are writing something because they know it's going to be a public debate or political debate."
A senior intelligence official said that declassification of past key judgments on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and terrorism had led to misunderstandings of the underlying evidence.
McConnell said his objective in preparing the Iran estimate was "to present the clinical evidence and let it stand on its own merits with its own qualification," meaning that it would contain dissent. "There are always disagreements on every national intelligence estimate," he said.
He said he expects leaks of the Iran estimate, some of them politically motivated. Asked how he would respond if Bush administration officials misused it, McConnell said, "If it were cherry-picked in an inappropriate way, then for me there's a professional obligation to object, and I would submit my resignation."