NBC has revealed that national security adviser John Bolton convened what was described as a "highly unusual" meeting at CIA headquarters last week to discuss Iran among top intelligence, diplomatic and military advisers.
The outside-the-norm nature of the meeting hearkens back to the Bush-Cheney White House's direct intervention over Iraq intelligence in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion, which involved the VP and his staff making multiple personal visits to CIA headquarters and Pentagon to pressure the intel analysts into conforming to a preferred "narrative".
Such meetings, NBC noted, are typically held in the White House Situation Room, especially given the involvement of State Dept. and military leaders. "The six current officials, as well as multiple former officials, said it is extremely rare for senior White House officials or Cabinet members to attend a meeting at CIA headquarters," the report said.
"The meeting was held at 7 a.m. on Monday, April 29, and included CIA Director Gina Haspel, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joe Dunford, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, five of the officials said," reported NBC.
The officials interviewed expressly denied the meeting was about the recent intelligence touted by Bolton as precipitating the carrier strike group deployment to the Persian Gulf region under CENTCOM, and did not provide details.
The intelligence officials further said there could be two likely factors at play. Such rare meetings at CIA headquarters could involve briefings on "highly sensitive covert actions" or another scenario could involve deep disagreement at the highest levels over what the intelligence actually shows.
As part of its report NBC identified "a seasoned intelligence officer, Mike D'Andrea" as overseeing the CIA's Iran operations, who previously helped lead the hunt for bin Laden and al-Qaeda operatives.