December 4th, 2007
08:10 PM ET
15 years ago

McCain talks Iran

McCain in New Hampshire Tuesday comments on Iran.

KEENE, New Hampshire (CNN) – One day after the release of a
four-year-old U.S. intelligence report that said Tehran halted its nuclear program in 2003, Arizona Sen. John McCain warned reporters Tuesday that the Iranians were "still sponsoring terrorist organizations," and "sending dangerous and lethal explosive devices into Iraq."

McCain told the crowd at a Granite State campaign stop that he did not  have "inside details" on Iran's nuclear development, but that the intelligence community needed to pay careful attention to the original information that had led to their earlier assessment that Tehran was seeking to develop a nuclear weapon.

"We've had a history of not having the greatest intelligence capability," said the senator, offering mistaken Cold War-era assessments that misled Pentagon planners during the Korean War and the arms race with the Soviet Union as examples. The Iraq war supporter did not mention the intelligence community's most recent failure, its pre-war assessment of Saddam Hussein's weapons program.

The Republican presidential candidate cited a lack of human intelligence on the ground, and remarked on the inability of intelligence agents to "swim into a society" and collect information. He vowed to overhaul the human intelligence system if elected.

–CNN New Hampshire Producer Sareena Dalla  

Filed under: Iran • John McCain • New Hampshire
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Eric, Salt Lake City, Utah

    CNN – you need to fact check the obvious. It is not a four year old report, but rather a 2007 report reassessing information about 2003. As of earlier reports in 2005 and 2006, our intelligence services thought they were probably still working on nuclear weapons. Bad information leads to worse spin. I'm happy that this eases some tensions, but McCain is right that Iran threatens its neighbors, if not us, in other ways.

    December 4, 2007 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  2. Shaun Davis, Orlando,FL

    I am really disappointed in John McCain. For a man who was a prisoner of war and who has experienced war first hand, how can he still support this ridiculous Iraq war? I served in the Air Force from 2000-2004 and was deployed for the first few months and I can tell you that MOST troops want to go home. Either McCain is lying about what he heard from troops or he is visiting the extremely small minority.

    December 4, 2007 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  3. Jim, Topeka Ks

    The greatest error Senator McCain made was when he stopped sounding like John McCain and statrted sounding like George W Bush.

    December 4, 2007 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  4. Jeff from Jersey

    This administration has ZERO intelligence capability about EVERYTHING at every level and from every perspective!If George "WORST" Bush had one less brain cell he'd owe one and the Department of Homeland Security,the CIA and the FBI make "Agent 86" look like a member of Mensa!
    Just in case anyone in the preceding paragraph is having this read to them "Agent 86" was named Maxwell Smart and HE WASN'T REAL,just in case any of you geniuses is planning to spend a few $Billion to try and find him.

    December 4, 2007 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  5. George, IL

    Sponsoring terrorists? Tell you what, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are the two biggest sponsors. Can we bomb them now?

    Senator McCain, your campaign is dead and everyone knows it. The United States can well use a president who isn't obsessed with dragon slaying anyways.

    December 4, 2007 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  6. AJ, Decatur Illinois

    It seems McCain wants you to be afraid of EVERYTHING. I do not like being scared I do not think I will vote for him. CNN sure seems to have taken a shine for him this week.

    December 4, 2007 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  7. Ivan, Chicago, Illinois

    Not only do the Republicans want to shoot their own messenger they want to disregard the message becuase it does not agree with what they been telling the American People.
    McCain and others should be angered at Bush, for letting them to go on and on about what they would do to Iran, while he Bush knew about the findings of this report.
    All the lies told to us since Bush and the Republicans came into power are now one by one unraveling.

    December 5, 2007 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  8. bukky, baltimore MD

    I'd like to make the point that WE, THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA SPONSOR terrorism... from from formerly classified documents that have now been declassified we know this as a fact. How does this make us any different from Iran. Sucks but that is how foreign policy works. Why would Iran want US to be a power in the middle east... that would be against its interests... Now lets make it clear... I dont agree with it, but the US (politicians and citizens alike) needs to get of it's high horse...

    If you dont want people scared of you being in there back yard... stop threatening them with violence. Violence begets violence... Even there are Iranians that can't stand their countries policies... if a war breaks out they wont be on our side... Just like even though I can't stand the site of Bush and hate our foreign policies... I would not be on the side of anyone that attacks this nation...

    Think people dont just be hypocrites reacting to BS you are being fed.

    December 5, 2007 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  9. MCD, San Francisco, CA

    Mr. McCain, could our intelligence be spotty because of the fact that this admin outed Plame, an expert on WMDs in Iraq and nearby areas? Could the fact that all of her assets in the area were compromised when she was outed have made it harder for the US to collect data?

    You have to ask... did this admin do something really stupid or do they really want us to be in the dark so they can scare us into going along with whatever they want?

    December 5, 2007 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  10. OneTrickPonyCFR

    Give it up McCain. The American people have been lied into phony wars for far too long and they're tired of it.

    They are tired of killing and maiming US soldiers in phony wars.

    They are tired of paying trillions of tax dollars for phony wars.

    They are tired of killing countless innocent people in phony wars.

    McCain, you lost all credibility when you compared Iraq to Nazi Germany.

    December 5, 2007 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  11. Mike, Queens, NY

    McCain – name me one country Iran has attacked in the past 80 years.

    December 5, 2007 01:16 am at 1:16 am |
  12. Trish Palm Bay FL

    I like McCain, but that sounds like George Bush.

    December 5, 2007 03:12 am at 3:12 am |
  13. DefendAmericaSaveTheTroops

    Please GOP, it's time to put the old pro-war donkey to rest. America is tired of phony wars. You're not going to win an election with more pro-war madness.

    America is tired of phony wars killing and maiming US soldiers.

    America is tired of phony wars wasting trillions of tax dollars and undermining the economy.

    America is tired of phony wars killing countless innocent foreigners.

    You have one candidate, Ron Paul, that truly represents traditional Republican values – not the Neo-conservative agenda that has hijacked the party.

    GOP, put your country first, and your party and pride second.

    Seriously folks.

    December 5, 2007 03:54 am at 3:54 am |
  14. Bruce, Penn Yan, NY

    Im sorry, but why should we believe anything this administration says...they screwed that up with all the "Weapons of Mass Distruction" that were supposedly to be found in Iraq. It's laughable that anyone would even listen to this incompetent President.

    December 5, 2007 06:20 am at 6:20 am |
  15. bret, atl, ga

    Funny. When "our" "intelligence" says the "Bad Guys" have weapons, we say "Get 'em!" When it says they don't, we say "our intelligence is bad!"

    McCain, I really hope people do not fall for your "logic." Do the world a favor and retire now.

    December 5, 2007 06:20 am at 6:20 am |
  16. Michael Arnaud-Glen Burnie, MD.

    "We've had a history of not having the greatest intelligence capability." That's a quote from Sen. McCain about the report on Iran's nuke program. I think the problem is twofold. 1. make the Director of the CIA someone who was an actual field agent and worked operations out in the weeds, not sitting a desk at headquarters, or worse, a congressperson who worked the Intelligence Committee in the House or Senate. 2.The President and the Congress need to stop looking for what they can use against the other in the intelligence reports. Every time the CIA reports something to each, the Congress sits there and says how the report shows that the President was lying about something, the President says how it proves something he said and the Congress is wrong. Try this, the CIA reports something and everybody stops trying to use it for thier own benefit or advance their own agendas. Maybe that might work?

    December 5, 2007 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  17. Kim, Dallas, TX

    McCain is feeling a bit foolish for his now infamous "bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb bomb Iran" singing. He would be a terrible leader in this era of much needed intelligence and judgment. Can you picture Kennedy ever standing on stage singing that song when faced with the VERY real terror threat by the Soviet Union back then? This guy is a joke and what we NEED to think about is how the Bush administration influenced and manipulated the intelligence information to go to war in Iraq, and now they are upset that what's shown to them doesn't follow what they want to hear. It's a different time and people are less likely to be influenced so easily by their preemptive war desire to bomb the entire middle east. If you think that Bush knows what he is talking about, bombing Iran on our part could be the catalyst to start WWIII...not waiting to see if Iran could create their own nuclear weapon. Bush is a HUGE disappointment and joke and has damaged our reputation and credibility worldwide. Don't fall into his mismanagement once again.

    December 5, 2007 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  18. Mike, Milwaukee, WI

    Mr. McCain as President will most definitley take us into World War III, since his solution to everything is "Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran."

    December 5, 2007 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  19. AJ, IL

    Wow, what a surprise? The same guy who just a few months ago was singing "BOMB BOMB BOMB, BOMB BOMB IRAN!". McCain is a distinguished Vietnam Vet, but he is one-dimensional. He wants to be known as the War President (remind you of somebody...BUSH). I have never seen so much war rhetoric from a presidential candidate. If he is not talking about Iraq, he is talking about military action in Iran. He latest "war" comments about China's military build-up and America's need to build up our military presence in Asia to comfront them is just another reason why this guy should stay a senator!

    December 5, 2007 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |

    McCain, you and the other war-crazed republicans are demented, or just plain stupid. Why haven't you guys issued one peep on Suadi Arabia for their support of the Sunnis in Iraq and continuously bemoan Iran at every turn. You republican have embellished the facts to suit your agenda. Anyway McCain you don't have a snowball in hell of a chance of being elected President.

    December 5, 2007 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  21. J. Dean, Juno Beach, FLORIDA

    A professional and a Republican advice to John McCain. Listen to the message of Tom , from Albuquerque, NM. Don't waste your time and the time of other Republicans. Just retire and enjoy the rest of your life with your family. Mr. McCain, your are not presidential. You are indeed very, very, very old to be considered a Republican Presidential Candidate.
    You missed your chance in 2000. Indeed, Disaster George Bush destroyed you and your political carrier. Wish you good luck in your future endeavors, oh, I mean, your retirement.
    Your services to Our Country have been highly appreciated.

    December 5, 2007 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  22. Independent in IA

    Since he doesn't have "inside details" on Iran's nuclear development, perhaps he ought to keep his lips from flapping like a salivating vulture. Let this aged jet-jockey run things, and it's dead certain we'll be bombing Iran by Feb. 1st, 2009.

    December 5, 2007 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  23. Jose Card

    Unfortunately, countries like Iran and China only respect strength. For example, our Kitty Hawk was refused a scheduled port call over Thanksgiving in Hong Kong by China. The crew of 8,000 had to meet their families in Japan for Thanksgiving.

    RICHARD FISHER, INTL. ASSESSMENT & STRATEGY CENTER: This administration has been trying to engage China militarily for almost two years. And it has got in very little in return and the refusal of the Kitty Hawk and the two mind sweepers (in a storm) was really a slap in the face. For the Chinese foreign ministry to have told us within the last 12 hours that these ships were refused because of our support for freedom in Tibet and freedom in Taiwan is actually a very hostile message. We are being told that a humanitarian gesture to our sailors was refused because we are free, because we support freedom. This is a wakeup call. And it needs to be heard in the White House.

    China said on Dec. 4, 2007 it had voiced "grave concern" to Washington after the USS Kitty Hawk sailed through the Taiwan Strait (to Japan), just days after an aborted port visit to Hong Kong.

    The Chinese Song-class diesel-powered attack submarine shadowed the Kitty Hawk undetected and surfaced within five miles of the carrier on Oct. 26, 2006.

    You cannot blame Senator McCain for being cautious when it comes to our national security.

    December 6, 2007 01:31 am at 1:31 am |
  24. Jeffrey, Austin, Texas

    McCain is such a non-factor in this race. He has totally sold out his "maverick" image, especially when you need your mother to campaign for you! The fire in his belly seems to have gone out.

    December 6, 2007 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  25. Elizabeth, Vero Bch, Fl.

    I would support McCain more then the other candidates. I feel that he takes the condition of the issues (like prisoners of war) more seriously, and when it comes to life and death, that is the most important quality in a candidate. Of course, most people don't constantly face issues like that, so they would really have no idea how to make crucial life saving decisions. You know, those decisions that presidents have to make, but they don't teach at Harvard.

    December 7, 2007 10:07 am at 10:07 am |