"OUTRAGEOUS AND DISHONEST." The Washington Post's Daphna Linzer has one hell of an aggressive piece out today on the IAEA's apoplectic reaction to the House Intelligence Committee's recent report on Iran's nuclear capabilities.

Yesterday's letter, a copy of which was provided to The Washington Post, was the first time the IAEA has publicly disputed U.S. allegations about its Iran investigation. The agency noted five major errors in the committee's 29-page report, which said Iran's nuclear capabilities are more advanced than either the IAEA or U.S. intelligence has shown.

Among the committee's assertions is that Iran is producing weapons-grade uranium at its facility in the town of Natanz. The IAEA called that "incorrect," noting that weapons-grade uranium is enriched to a level of 90 percent or more. Iran has enriched uranium to 3.5 percent under IAEA monitoring...

Privately, several intelligence officials said the committee report included at least a dozen claims that were either demonstrably wrong or impossible to substantiate. Hoekstra's office said the report was reviewed by the office of John D. Negroponte, the director of national intelligence.

Negroponte's spokesman, John Callahan, said in a statement that his office "reviewed the report and provided its response to the committee on July 24, '06." He did not say whether it had approved or challenged any of the claims about Iran's capabilities.

Linzer also reminds us that Democrats on the committee had grave concerns about the report's shoddiness and that the Republicans went public with it before a vote was ever taken. The report was written by "a single Republican staffer with a hard-line position on Iran" -- former John Bolton aide Fred Fleitz. From start to finish this has played out like a sick joke of how the committee process is supposed to operate and serve to collate expertise in Congress. But then the continued saber-rattling about Iran's weapons capability, playing out as a note-by-note reenactment of the prewar WMD debate on Iraq (replete with clashes with the perfidious IAEA and other outfits), has been a sick joke in more ways than one.

--Sam Rosenfeld