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America, Iran and faulty intelligence: Bernd Debusmann

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maddezmom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 09:37 AM
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America, Iran and faulty intelligence: Bernd Debusmann
WASHINGTON, July 23 (Reuters) - "Iran is not in a revolutionary or even pre-revolutionary stage."

That was the assessment of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency in August 1978, at a time when Iran's ruler was America's closest ally in the Middle East. The Defense Intelligence Agency, a month later, predicted that the Shah of Iran, "is expected to remain actively involved in power over the next 10 years."

Famous last words. The Shah fled into exile four months later, forced out by increasingly violent demonstrations against his autocratic rule. An estimated 6 million people massed in Tehran to greet the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the elderly cleric who had rallied opposition against the Shah, on his triumphant return from exile in February 1979.

Later that year, Iranian students stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran, beginning a 444-day crisis in which 52 Americans were held hostage. Washington broke off diplomatic relations in 1980, and they have yet to be restored.

If U.S. intelligence on Iran was bad in the 1970s, when the United States had a sizable embassy and officials could move freely around the country, how is it now, after 28 years without official contacts and no American presence on the ground? Just as bad? Very bad? Barely there?

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