Iran Deal Divides Congressional Intelligence Leaders

September 10, 2015
By Robert K. Ackerman
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Dedicated to bipartisan approaches, congressmen cannot agree on intelligence data.

The Republicans and Democrats on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence are divided on party lines over the Iran nuclear arms deal. Even though both parties have access to the same data, they view it through their own prisms and interpret it differently, according to the chairman and ranking member of the committee.

Speaking at the AFCEA/INSA Intelligence and National Security Summit being held in Washington, D.C., September 9-10, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), ranking minority member of the committee, noted that all Republicans on the committee are opposed to it, while all committee Democrats support it. His Republican counterpart, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), committee chairman, said that Republicans consider it “too big as gamble to take.”

Rep. Schiff offered, “If you’re Iran, it’s going to be difficult to create a covert path to enrichment.” He said the most likely areas of cheating for nuclear warheads would be in nonradioactive weapon development, particularly in obtaining advanced computer simulation that would help design a warhead and model an explosion.

Both representatives emphasized that they try to check their politics at the door of their committee. While they agreed on many intelligence points, they disagreed on the Iran deal despite having access to the same classified information.

Rep. Schiff did offer that Iran might be caught cheating on the deal, but it would involve using a sensitive source—human or technical—“that we’ll then have to burn” to reveal Iran’s transgressions.

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