Strange Scoop

Greg Miller for The Los Angeles Times has a seemingly important scoop about a "previously undisclosed program" run by the CIA and called "Brain Drain" that was "designed to degrade Iran's nuclear weapons program by persuading key officials to defect." Naturally, the CIA doesn't want to talk about it:

A CIA spokesman declined to comment on the effort to cultivate defectors, saying "the agency does not comment on these kinds of allegations as a matter of course."

Some sources were, however, willing to speak off the record about the awesomeness of this program:

The defector program was put in place under CIA Director Porter J. Goss, who has since left. The agency compiled a list of dozens of people to target as potential defectors based on a single criterion, according to a former official involved in the operation: "Who, if removed from the program, would have the biggest impact on slowing or stopping their progress?"

"Did they have replacements for these people? Any country would have," the former official involved in the operation said. "But we did slow the program."

But as Isaac Chotiner points out, the lede is that "The CIA launched a secret program in 2005 designed to degrade Iran's nuclear weapons program" and the National Intelligence Estimate's new conclusion is that Iran's nuclear weapons program was mothballed in 2003. How could the CIA's activities have slowed an Iranian program that had already been put on hold?