Posts from December, 2007

Oliver Stone Seeks to Film “Ahmadinejad’s Adventures”

Updated below

Filmmaker Oliver Stone is expected to visit Tehran in the near future to negotiate arrangements for a film about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian press reported last week.

“We have announced that he has asked for permission to travel to Iran for direct negotiations and to plan the project,” one official told the Tehran Times.

Stone first sought Iranian permission last summer to make the film, variously referred to as “Ahmadijenad’s Adventures” or “The Truth About Ahmadinejad.” His initial request was denied, but was then reconsidered and approved by the President himself “if certain conditions were met.”

Among such conditions, the Tehran Times reported, “Stone would not be allowed to invent any scenarios. [Instead,] he should only use incidents from the president’s real life in the film.”

See “Oliver Stone may visit Tehran for Ahmadinejad biopic: Sajjadpur,” Tehran Times, November 30.

News about the proposed film project “has amazed and worried many friends of Islamic Iran’s honour and power and those concerned about its reputation,” according to one Iranian commentator.

“How can one trust a person… who, despite efforts at proclaiming himself to represent the opposition in America’s ruling system, is in line and in accordance with the essence and the overall policies of this system,” wrote Elham Rajabpur in the conservative Tehran daily Keyhan.

The writer objected to several of Stone’s films including Alexander (“a hated figure among Iranians”) and The Doors (about “one of America’s perverted and half-mad singers”).

“We are afraid that the outcome of [Stone's Iranian film] venture will not be the true and realistic portrayal of an intellectual and a peacemaker such as Ahmadinejad, but a portrayal of Ahmadinejad according to Stone, Hollywood, and global Zionism.”

See “Oliver Stone’s Presence in Iran: Opportunity or Threat” by Elham Rajabpur, Keyhan, December 3 (translated by the DNI Open Source Center).

Update: “A spokesman for Oliver Stone said today that the Oscar-winning director has ‘no plans at this time to go to Tehran,’ despite recent reports suggesting that he could soon be traveling to the Iranian capital for a project about President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,” the Los Angeles Times reported. See “Oliver Stone quashes Iran visit report” by Robert W. Welkos, December 7.

Defense Contracting in Iraq, and More from CRS

The complexities of U.S. defense contracting in Iraq and some of the resulting irregularities are reviewed in a newly updated report from the Congressional Research Service.

“Given the size and scope of the contracts in Iraq, and the challenge of managing billions of DOD-appropriated dollars, many have suggested it appropriate to inquire whether these types of contracts can be managed better,” the CRS report delicately stated.

See “Defense Contracting in Iraq: Issues and Options for Congress” (pdf), updated November 15, 2007.

Other noteworthy new CRS reports obtained by Secrecy News include the following (all pdf):

“North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons: Latest Developments,” November 21, 2007.

“Russian Energy Policy toward Neighboring Countries,” November 27, 2007.

“Foreign Aid Reform: Issues for Congress and Policy Options,” November 7, 2007.

“Defense: FY2008 Authorization and Appropriations,” updated November 28, 2007.

“Botnets, Cybercrime, and Cyberterrorism: Vulnerabilities and Policy Issues for Congress,” updated November 15, 2007.

NIE on Iran’s Nuclear Program: No Slam Dunk

In an unusual policy pirouette, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence yesterday published the key judgments (pdf) of a National Intelligence Estimate on Iran’s nuclear weapons program little more than a month after the DNI issued guidance declaring that “It is the policy of the Director of National Intelligence that KJs [key judgments] should not be declassified.”

“We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program,” the new Estimate states dramatically.

Although it goes on to assert “moderate-to-high confidence that Tehran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons,” the new Estimate effectively distances the U.S. intelligence community from those who insist that Iran is irrevocably bent on acquiring nuclear weapons.

By challenging the prejudices of the Administration rather than reinforcing them, the NIE on Iran does what earlier estimates on Iraq notoriously failed to do.

It also departs from the judgments of the 2005 NIE on Iran, which is why it has now been publicly disclosed, according to Deputy DNI Donald Kerr.

“Since our understanding of Iran’s capabilities has changed, we felt it was important to release this information to ensure that an accurate presentation is available,” he said (pdf).

In fact, however, Congress directed the DNI in the FY 2007 defense authorization act to prepare an unclassified summary of the Estimate.

“Consistent with the protection of intelligence sources and methods, an unclassified summary of the key judgments of the National Intelligence Estimate should be submitted.” (House Report 109-702, section 1213, Intelligence on Iran).