MSNBC Guest: Bolton’s Iran Meeting at CIA Has ‘Dark Echoes’ of Cheney’s Exaggeration of Iraq WMD Threat


On MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, a former national security aide to Vice President Joe Biden warned  that National Security Adviser John Bolton’s recent decision to travel to the CIA to discuss Iran has “dark echos of kind of the machinations that Dick Cheney was involved in to manipulate intelligence prior to the 2003 Iraq War.”

Colin Kahl, who worked as Biden’s national security adviser from 2014 to 2017, expressed his concerns to host Rachel Maddow about a recent NBC News report on an “unusual meeting” at Langley by Bolton and other top Trump administration military and intelligence officials.

“I think the worry comes in two directions,” Kahl said. “There’s definitely a war camp inside the Trump Administration. I mean, John Bolton for decades has had his sights set on attacking Iran militaily, overthrowing its regime. Secretary [of State Joe] Pompeo, prior to becoming Secretary of State, was also quite hawkish on Iran. You don’t have reasonable voices around the president anymore like [former National Security Adviser] H.R. McMaster or former Secretary [of Defense James] Mattis, who weren’t doves but did caution restraint as it related to Iran.”

Karl’s comments invoking Cheney, the CIA, and the Iraq War stem from a seminal June 2003 Washington Post report that found, while compiling the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, CIA analysts felt pressure to align their conclusions with the George W. Bush administration’s public claims on Iraqi WMDs after multiple trips to Langley by Vice President Dick Cheney. “The visits by the vice president and his chief of staff, I. Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby, ‘sent signals, intended or otherwise, that a certain output was desired from here,'” the Post quoted a senior CIA official saying.

Could the same White House pressure to re-package intelligence to sell the necessity of war against a Middle East country be happening all over again, Maddow asked?

“It’s conceivable that Bolton and others went to CIA with the goal of trying to gin up intelligence to justify Bolton’s threat about a week ago to unleash unrelenting force against Iran if they attacked U.S. Interests in the region,” Kahl acknowledged. “It’s also possible, however, that the conversation was about covert action to undermine Iran. I think you can see the CIA meeting potentially [as] in the same vein as the Pentagon meeting that you talked about just a few minutes ago, of the administration exploring options both covert and overt to take on the Iranian regime if it engages in provocations or attacks against US Forces or if it, you know, follows through with backing away on its commitments and starts to restart its nuclear program. So I think we’re at a very dangerous moment.”

Watch video above, via MSNBC.

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