A little-noticed colloquy at a House subcommittee hearing last week may help prod a revisiting of the most dastardly case of the politicization of intelligence in memory, perhaps in U.S. history. Vann H. Van Diepen, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation, was testifying before the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade when Representative Ed Royce (R-CA) asked him about his role in preparing the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate on Iran’s “Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities.”
Van Diepen, a career diplomat, had been seconded to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, where he served as National Intelligence Officer for Weapons of Mass Destruction and Proliferation. In that role, he is widely understood to have been the principal author of the NIE. A non-classified brief version of the NIE was released to the public, which was an extraordinary occurrence, and in all likelihood President Bush and his top advisors agreed to this only because they knew that otherwise a similar version would be leaked.