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Posted at 2:27 PM ET, 04/12/2010

CIA Iran specialist to head Treasury intelligence

By Jeff Stein

President Obama’s quiet nomination of S. Leslie Ireland, a top former CIA, Defense Department and DNI specialist on Iran, to be the Treasury Department’s top intelligence official seems to signal that he’s putting the final pieces in place for tougher sanctions on the Tehran regime.

Ireland has been serving Obama recently as an intelligence briefer. But prior to that, she spent 25 years in intelligence, much of it concentrating on Iran.

According the White House’s Mar. 29 announcement, Ireland:

served as the DNI Iran Mission Manager, where she was responsible for integrating collection and analysis on Iran across the Intelligence Community, identifying and filling gaps in intelligence, and planning and ensuring the implementation of strategies, among other duties. During her career she has also served as Executive Assistant to the Director and Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, and in various analytical and management portfolios at CIA related to the Middle East and WMD. Ms. Ireland was also detailed to the Office of the Secretary of Defense as Country Director for Iran and Kuwait.

A former CIA official said Ireland was one of the few senior managers there who not only survived, but flourished, during the regimes of both CIA Directors George Tenet and Porter Goss.

“She was very professional … very capable … very helpful,” said the official, on terms of anonymity.

At DNI, Ireland recruited 20 analysts from various intelligence agencies to "talk daily about how to get better information," according to a 2006 New York Times report.

Ireland’s tenure at DNI spanned a period when the national intelligence estimates on Iran received less than stellar reviews.

Ireland’s awards include, according to the White House:

CIA’s Intelligence Commendation Medal, awarded for analytical work in support of Operation Desert Storm, and the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, awarded for service as the DNI Iran Mission Manager.

Ireland holds an M.A. in Russian Area Studies from Georgetown University, the announcement said.

By Jeff Stein  | April 12, 2010; 2:27 PM ET
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