Jonathan Martin writes
My colleague David Paul Kuhn attended an on-the-record dinner with Mike Huckabee and a group of reporters tonight in Des Moines.
The transcript speaks for itself:
Kuhn: I don’t know to what extent you have been briefed or been able to take a look at the NIE report that came out yesterday ...
Huckabee: I’m sorry?
Kuhn: The NIE report, the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran. Have you been briefed or been able to take a look at it —
Kuhn: Have you heard of the finding?
Kuhn then summarized the NIE finding that Iran had stopped work on a clandestine nuclear program four years ago and asked if it “adjusts your view on Iran in any sense."
Kuhn: What is your concern on Iran as of now?
Huckabee: I’ve a serious concern if they were to be able to weaponize nuclear material, and I think we all should, mainly because the statements of Ahmadinejad are certainly not conducive to a peaceful purpose for his having it and the fear that he would in fact weaponize it and use it. (He pauses and thinks) I don’t know where the intelligence is coming from that says they have suspended the program or how credible that is versus the view that they actually are expanding it. … And I’ve heard, the last two weeks, supposed reports that they are accelerating it and it could be having a reactor in a much shorter period of time than originally been thought.
Huh ? The nuclear program in question is a centrifuge cascade for Uranium enrichment. A nuclear reactor has not been discussed in the context of nuclear proliferation concerns recently (reactor not graphite mediated and with safeguards and not alleged to be relevant by anyone, not even Cheney).
Huckabee didn't know about the NIE. His statement "I don’t know where the intelligence is coming from that says they have suspended the program or how credible that is versus the view that they actually are expanding it." suggests he is unfamiliar with the concept of an NIE (though it probably means he refuses to let the firm consensus of the intelligence community interfere with his standard line).
The claim that Ahmedinejad is the most powerful person in Iran is, of course, false, but par for the course.