Current intelligence on Iran likely too poor quality to rely on
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In addition to the inherent difficulty of gathering information about a country with which we have had nearly no diplomatic or economic engagement for 27 years, there is reason to fear that what little intelligence we do have is of poor quality. According to James Risen of the New York Times, the entire Central Intelligence Agency network inside Iran was 'rolled up' in 2004 when a CIA operative accidentally sent a full roster of U.S. assets inside Iran to an Iranian double agent. This, according to Risen, left the CIA 'virtually blind in Iran.' Even before the 'roll-up,' a presidential commission concluded in 2004 that the U.S. intelligence community had 'disturbingly little' information on Iran's nuclear activities. That assessment was echoed in August 2006 in a report for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. That report noted that 'American intelligence agencies do not know nearly enough about Iran's nuclear weapons program.' Further, the report argued: "Improving intelligence collection and analysis to better understand and counter Iranian influence and intentions is vital to our national security. The Intelligence Community lacks the ability to acquire essential information necessary to make judgments on these essential topics, which have been recognized as essential to U.S. national security for many, many years."