Know all ye by these presents that Thomas Fingar is hereby awarded the Corner-Brightener Candlestick, presented by Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence.
In 2005, when Tom Fingar assumed responsibility for supervising the preparation of National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs), the discipline of intelligence analysis had been corrupted on both sides of the Atlantic. We know from the Downing Street Minutes of July 23, 2002 that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy” prior to the US/UK attack on Iraq.
Integrity and professionalism were the only cure. Dr. Fingar oversaw the landmark 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran, which concluded with “high confidence” that Iran had halted its nuclear weapon design and weaponization work in 2003. That NIE was issued with the unanimous approval of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies. Its key judgments have been revalidated every year since by the Director of National Intelligence.
The Estimate’s findings were a marked departure from earlier assessments of Iran’s nuclear program. That it was instrumental in thwarting an attack on Iran is seen in President George W. Bush’s own memoir in which he complains that the “eye-popping” findings of the 2007 NIE stayed his hand: “How could I possibly explain using the military to destroy the nuclear facilities of a country the intelligence community said had no active nuclear weapons program?”
Presented this 23rd day of January 2013 at Oxford University by admirers of the example set by our former colleague, Sam Adams.
If, as seems likely, President Barack Obama retains enough support to complete the nuclear deal with Iran, it will be largely because enough members of the House and Senate are persuaded by his argument that the only other real option is war..
This was the rhetorical gauntlet the president threw down at his press conference last week. Equally significant, Mr. Obama omitted the until-now obligatory warning that “all options, including the military one, remain on the table.”
Since then, Israeli media have been pressing hard to restore the military option to its accustomed place “on the table.” Flying to Israel Sunday night for a handholding mission with top Israeli officials, U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter tried to make his reception in Tel Aviv less frosty, telling accompanying journalists that the nuclear deal with Iran “does nothing to prevent the military option.” The context, however, seemed to be one in which Iran was caught cheating on the nuclear deal.
That this kind of rhetoric, even when it is not from the president, is still poison to Tehran was clear in the immediate reaction by Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, who insisted Monday: “Applying force … is not an option but an unwise and dangerous temptation.”
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Redactie.radiocentrall (Antwerp) interview of Ray McGovern and Coleen Rowley on October 5, 2014, about the Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence. The article is in Dutch but you can hear the interviews in English at: http://redactie.radiocentraal.be/Home/?p=7174
Professor Thomas Fingar wins the Sam Adams award for integrity in intelligence, while others warn of an unprecedented crackdown on intelligence agency whistleblowers – February 3, 13
An award for integrity and honesty, for work that essentially prevented a war.
Thomas Fingar, now a Professor at Stanford University, oversaw the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran in 2007, during a period when the Bush administration was beating the drums of war. Its conclusion, that all 16 US intelligence agencies judged with high confidence that Iran had given up its nuclear weapons programme in 2003, placed an insurmountable obstacle on the path to conflict.
Critics of the report’s conclusions say it was politicised. But speaking to us in Oxford, where he’s currently teaching as part of an overseas programme, Thomas Fingar told us that unlike the flawed WMD report on Iraq in 2002, his assessment has withstood scrutiny over the years. Read more.
Former U.S. Intelligence Analysis Chief to Receive Award at Oxford
Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence is pleased to announce the selection of Thomas Fingar for its annual award for integrity in intelligence. Dr. Fingar served from 2005 to 2008 as Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Analysis and as chairman of the National Intelligence Council – the office that produces National Intelligence Estimates.
Dr. Fingar oversaw the landmark 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran, which concluded with “high confidence” that Iran had halted its nuclear weapon design and weaponization work in 2003. The NIE was issued with the unanimous approval of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies. Its key judgments have been revalidated every year since by the Director of National Intelligence.
In keeping with the ethos of intelligence analysis, the Estimate was aimed solely at arriving at the truth about Iran’s nuclear program. It began with a bottom-up assessment of existing evidence but benefited also from intelligence acquired and analyzed in 2007.
The Estimate’s findings were a marked departure from earlier assessments of Iran’s nuclear program. Thus, the White House instructed the drafters to create an unclassified version of the key judgments for publication. Public reaction, plus strong opposition by senior military officers to war on Iran, played a key role in thwarting plans by the Bush/Cheney administration to launch war in 2008.
In his memoir “Decision Points,” former President Bush acknowledged that the “eye-popping” findings of the 2007 NIE stayed his hand: “How could I possibly explain using the military to destroy the nuclear facilities of a country the intelligence community said had no active nuclear weapons program?”
Sam Adams Associates will present the award to Dr. Fingar on January 23rd at the Oxford Union, Oxford University, where he will teach a course on global trends and transnational issues as part of Stanford University’s Bing Overseas Studies Program – a course open to Oxford students, as well. He will also give guest lectures and public talks while at Oxford (January-March).
At Stanford, Dr. Fingar is the inaugural Oksenberg-Rohlen Distinguished Fellow in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. Before taking the helm at the National Intelligence Council in 2005, Dr. Fingar served as Assistant Secretary of State in charge of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (2004–2005), its principal deputy (2001–2003), and head of analysis (1994–2000).
Thomas Fingar holds a PhD in political science from Stanford. His most recent book is Reducing Uncertainty: Intelligence Analysis and National Security (Stanford University Press, 2011).
Remarks by Sam Adams Associates Annie Machon, Tom Drake, Ann Wright, Brady Kiesling, and Craig Murray
At Award Ceremony Honoring Thomas Fingar
Oxford Union Debating Chamber, January 23, 2013 (23 min.)