December 5th, 2007
02:00 PM ET
15 years ago

Thompson downplays NIE report

Thompson expressed reservations with the NIE report on Iran.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican Fred Thompson downplayed the intelligence report released earlier in the week that said Iran’s nuclear program seemed to have ended in 2003, calling the assessment “awfully convenient” for current political leaders.

“[T]he administration gets to say its policies worked; the Democrats get to claim we should have eased up on Iran a long time ago: and Russia and China can claim sanctions on Iran are not necessary,” the presidential candidate said in a statement released Wednesday. “Who benefits from all this? Iran.”

Even if the report were accurate, he added, it was merely a snapshot of Iran’s intentions four years ago – not its agenda today.

The former Tennessee senator echoed the skepticism of GOP presidential rival John McCain, who warned reporters Tuesday that the Iranians were "still sponsoring terrorist organizations," and "sending dangerous and lethal explosive devices into Iraq."

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has also said the report did little to shift his perspective on Iran, and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said his tough policy prescription, which includes sanctions and “other pressures," remained unchanged.

Like McCain, Thompson listed past U.S. intelligence failures as the reason for his dubious reaction to the assessment, pointing to the nation’s continued inability to create “human intelligence” networks on the ground overseas.

The newly-released National Intelligence Estimate is causing a few headaches on the campaign trail. Most of the major Republican candidates have advocated taking a tough stance with Tehran, citing its nuclear ambitions – a view that seems to be challenged by the report’s findings.

Meanwhile, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee grabbed headlines Wednesday after he revealed to reporters that he was unfamiliar with the contents of the report.

- CNN’s Rebecca Sinderbrand

Filed under: Fred Thompson • John McCain • Mike Huckabee • Mitt Romney • Rudy Giuliani
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. DJ, LA, CA

    The WAR HAWKS are on the loose. Nice to know Fred appears to be a mirror image of Bush on his views.

    December 5, 2007 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  2. CFRScum

    Of course he does just like all other candidates except Ron Paul and Kucinich. That's because Thompson "the talking corpse" and the other pro-war Neocons are members of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and have the best interests of the military industrial complex, Big Oil and Israel at heart. They don't have the interests of the American people at heart. The CFR promotes war with Iran and releases publications like "Building a North American Union" and "Creating a North American Union".

    People, do some research into the CFR, America needs you!

    December 5, 2007 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  3. Hawk,Texas

    Seem's all these republican canadates are all like bush, more and more war .

    December 5, 2007 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  4. Roy, Gaithersburg, MD

    This comment was deleted the first and second time I posted it. It included a direct link to a press release on Ron Paul's official website. I have removed the link. Why would this be censored by CNN?

    I wonder what other candidates, such as Ron Paul have to say on this issue. This being CNN I guess we will never know.

    Luckily, this link to a press release on his official campaign website provides some information. Please look it up!

    Looks like Ron was right!

    December 5, 2007 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  5. J. Stiles, Trenton, NJ

    Before it was a McCain solo, now it's a Repub chorus ... "Bomb, bomb, bomb...bomb, bomb Iran..."
    (sung to the Beach Boys' Barbara Anne tune). America desperately needs diplomats, NOT more war mongers!

    December 5, 2007 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  6. Joe, Boston

    Who woke him up?

    December 5, 2007 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  7. Oscar, Rio Vista CA

    The NIE report must be wrong because it goes against the neocons beliefs. If you vote for any of these candidates you can be sure we will be at war with Iran before their term is up. They haven't learned a thing from the Iraq debaucle and anyone who votes for any one of these candidates must be pro-war as well.

    December 5, 2007 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |

    Fred Thompson is a brain dead moron. This idiot is disparaging the very agency set up to monitor this kind of intelligence. Since it doesn't agree with his rhetoric he dismiss it as folly. This man is hellbent on war because he thinks the hellish warmongering conservatives will vote his favor if he is more warbent than his competitors. Mr Thompson, go home and take a nap.

    December 5, 2007 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  9. Georg Felis, Wamego KS

    Of course. A country who daily calls for the destruction of Israel, is building a nuclear reactor, has thousands of uranium centrifuges in a deep underground bunker, and a collection of long range missiles could not possibly be building nuclear weapons. The CIA says so. And they have never been wrong, right?

    December 5, 2007 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  10. AJ, IL

    Fred, this isn't Law & Order. You Bush-like war rhetoric won't fly here. Just go back to your Virginia home and continue to be a corporate lobbyist and grand-dad...oops I mean dad to your kids.

    December 5, 2007 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  11. Lev Klinemann, Redondo Beach CA

    I still haven't heard one good answer on WHY IS IRAN A THREAT TO THE US.

    The only one who seems to be talking about WAR is BUSH AND HIS CROONIES.

    If Iran even THINKS about attacking the US, we could turn the whole country into GLASS.

    So just STOP this MADNESS, just stop it. The mighty German empire couldnt take on us, the japanese (samurai warriors) could not defeat us...

    ...but a few guys in the desert will?


    December 5, 2007 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  12. Darth Vadik, Glendora CA

    to Roy, Gaithersburg, MD

    All the democrats knew this too.

    December 5, 2007 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  13. KM, Lincoln, NE

    No Mr. Thompson, REALITY benefits from this report. This report (NIE) was written by professionals using FACTS and what it found is just that, a true representation of REALITY. Iran may benefit from reality, that's too bad really in my opinion, but nonetheless it is reality and we all have to deal with it. Remember those who do not change their ideology or doctrine even when reality suggests that the paradigm must be changed are doomed for failure.

    December 5, 2007 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  14. Independent in IA

    If brain transplants ever become viable, Fred Thompson will be able to get millions of dollars for's never been used.

    HE knows more than the experts who compiled the report? I don't think so...

    December 5, 2007 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  15. Greg, Houston

    Well one thing is clear. The Politicians don't let facts get in the way of their positions. In todays political climate you must have a bad guy to hammer on so the public doesn't pay attention to the crap that comes out of your mouth. This is a prime example. Set a policy and scream about it for years. When facts get in the way, just say that this proves m y point and continue to scream about it.

    And I ask again, why no screaming about Israel's nukes. I say get ride of them all.

    December 5, 2007 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  16. paul c, Palmetto Bay, FL

    I want to see how the war hawks manage to go to war with Iran. We have no available military and we are bankrupt.
    Maybe China will lend us some more money and some of their army.

    December 5, 2007 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  17. Sue, Michigan

    Yeah, but I bet Ahmadinejad can pronounce "nuclear." Our President is appallingly illiterate...and this guy graduated from an Ivy League school? I'd be embarrassed.

    December 5, 2007 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  18. erika morgan black dimond wa

    reason to strike this one from the list of possibles, it feels good to narrow the huge field

    December 6, 2007 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  19. Dave, Atlanta, GA

    So basically the Fred Thompson approach is to pick and choose which National Intelligence Estimates to pay attention to. So basically Fred Thompson had no problem with National Intelligence Estimates that say that the threat of terrorism is very real, but when a National Intelligence Estimate mentions something we DON'T have to be afraid of Thompson is quick to dismiss it.

    Class: Which other great republican figure selectively uses intelligence to tell us that we must live in fear?

    December 6, 2007 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  20. David Allen Linkenheimer

    Fred is a "status Quo" guy and he will not get the nomination simply because America is waking up to the fact that there is a conspiracy of lies and deciet not to mention high treason by our so called public servents... You know who I mean.

    December 7, 2007 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  21. hey allons,tn

    hey if like g.w bush you will love fred thompson why change we need war and higher OIL prices god help the people if we get another republican blessed are the peace makers for they are the children of god if you support war hawk you go against god.

    December 7, 2007 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |