Terror threat report leaves off Iran, Hezbollah
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An annual security report prepared by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and given to the Senate did not include Iran or Hezbollah as terror threats.
 
The unclassified Worldwide Threat Assessment even praised Iran for its “intentions to dampen sectarianism, build responsive partners, and deescalate tensions with Saudi Arabia.”
 
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Both Iran and Hezbollah, a militant group and political party in Lebanon, appeared in the “Terrorism” section of the 2014 Worldwide Threat Assessment, with Iran also appearing there in 2011, 2012 and 2013.   
 
Clapper's office denied that outside policymakers had influenced the report.
 
“The facts are that the decisions that were made about what to place in that document, what to highlight and what to focus on were all within the [Office of the Director of National Intelligence]," said Brian Hale, a spokesman for the office. "Hezbollah and Iran are still a threat, and on balance when you look at everything that’s been put forward ... I think it’s clear that there’s been no change at all other than someone decided internally ‘Hey, let’s move some stuff from terrorism to Iran.’”
 
Iran was listed under the "regional threats" heading in the document and mentioned in a section on cyber threats.
 
The State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research was provided with a copy of the document in advance "as a matter of practice," according to Hale. But he said they "offered no inputs nor raised any concerns about the proposed drafted language on Iran or Hizballah prior to its final publication."
 
Hale also said that the authors of the document knew that Clapper would be able to expand on the report when questioned about the assessment by members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He noted that Clapper referenced Iran's connection to Hezbollah during the hearing on the report.
 
Max Abrahms, member at the Council of Foreign Relations, told Newsweek the U.S. may be softening its stance on Iran in exchange for help with counterterrorism.
 
“The world has changed,” Abrahms told Newsweek. “The Sunni threat has gotten worse, the Islamic State is a greater danger than al-Qaeda ever was, and the Iranians have really come up big in terms of helping us out in combating the Islamic State.”
 
The U.S. is currently engaged in talks with Iran regarding the nation’s nuclear program.
 
--This report was updated at 11:23 on March 18.