Who is in charge? The NIE report on Iran's cessation of their nuclear program is a thinly veiled attempt to change the direction (if there is one) on how we handle Iran's nukes. And that has clearly succeeded.
Foreign officers at the Director on National Intelligence were not elected by the people of this great nation but they are imposing foreign policy agenda on this country? This is unheard of. But clearly the danger of the permanent bureaucracy so frighteningly (but presciently) described in John Bolton's Surrender is not An Option. There should be no permanent diplomatic institution, even at the federal level. They're too readily converted into bastions for America's enemies.
This was an end run around the administration and will easily provide the much needed out to everyone on the security council, the EU3, the Democrats and everyone that has been loathe to take any action on the development of Iran's nuclear's weapons.The NY Times and the left wing media have hungrily devoured the bait.
The permanent bureaucrats in these intelligence agencies are notoriously partisan and their intel is poor at best. These guys are running the country now? Yes, that's a 21st century coup. Bush will not be able to get anything nothing done on Iran.
This, IMAO is sabotage, sedition. And it's a very scary turn of the knife.
Bush On The Defensive Over New Iran Intel US New World Report
President Bush held a press conference in which he urged key allies to maintain the current pressure on the Islamic Republic. In fact, the AP reports, Bush said the new intel "contradicting earlier US assessments...would not prompt him to take off the table the possibility of pre-emptive military action against Iran."
Media accounts of the press conference are almost universally negative toward the President. ABC World News, for example, said last night Bush "was instantly and consistently defensive." NBC Nightly News prefaced its report saying, "The 'Washington Post' is running an analysis story on the internet for tomorrow's paper with the headline, 'Neck Snapping Spin' from the President. They're talking about the President's news conference today." (The piece NBC referred to was in fact an online opinion piece not intended for the newspapers' print edition by Dan Froomkin.) NBC also reported Bush was "a president on the defensive."
Print media outlets also suggest the new intel findings and Bush's reaction to them raise questions about the President's "credibility." So much so, says the Capitol Hill newspaper The Hill, that "several" Democrats "said that Congress should investigate the discrepancy between the Bush administration's recent doomsday rhetoric on Iran and the NIE's judgments."
McClatchy says the NIE "has dealt another blow to Bush's credibility -- which already was low over his false claims about illicit weapons in Iraq -- because he was aware of the findings when he warned on Oct. 17 that Iran's quest for nuclear weapons could ignite World War III." USA Today also notes that it was the President's first press conference "since warning in October that a nuclear Iran could lead to 'World War III.'" The President also "said he learned in August that there was new information on Iran's nuclear program that needed to be analyzed. He said he did not see the specific findings until last week." In similar reporting, the New York Times says Bush "opened himself to new criticism over his credibility."
The Chicago Tribune's Mark Silva also says this morning there are "new questions" about Bush's "credibility on...security issues." In her New York Times column, Maureen Dowd mentions that during the news conference yesterday, Silva told the President , "I can't help but read your body language this morning, Mr. President. ... You seem somehow dispirited, somewhat dispirited." Bush is said to have replied, "This is like, all of a sudden, it's like Psychology 101, you know?"
Another major issue this morning is how and why the reversal on Iran on the part of the US intelligence community came about. The Los Angeles Times says that "as US intelligence officials sought Tuesday to explain the remarkable reversal, they pointed to two factors: the emergence of crucial information over the summer, and a determination to avoid repeating the mistakes that preceded the Iraq war." The New York Times, meanwhile, says the intel "reversal" on Iran "was based on 'a great discovery' by American intelligence agencies, but neither he nor other officials would elaborate." The Washington Post, Detroit News and New York Times trace the impetus for the reversal to the lessons learned from the Iraq WMD fiasco.
Conservatives Don't Buy New Intel And Neither Does IAEA. The Wall Street Journal reports the NIE "has reopened long-simmering tensions between military hard-liners in the Bush administration and the intelligence community
From today's Wall Street Journal.
As recently as 2005, the consensus estimate of our spooks was that "Iran currently is determined to develop nuclear weapons" and do so "despite its international obligations and international pressure." This was a "high confidence" judgment. The new NIE says Iran abandoned its nuclear program in 2003 "in response to increasing international scrutiny." This too is a "high confidence" conclusion. One of the two conclusions is wrong, and casts considerable doubt on the entire process by which these "estimates" -- the consensus of 16 intelligence bureaucracies -- are conducted and accorded gospel status.
Our own "confidence" is not heightened by the fact that the NIE's main authors include three former State Department officials with previous reputations as "hyper-partisan anti-Bush officials," according to an intelligence source. They are Tom Fingar, formerly of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research; Vann Van Diepen, the National Intelligence Officer for WMD; and Kenneth Brill, the former U.S. Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
For a flavor of their political outlook, former Bush Administration antiproliferation official John Bolton recalls in his recent memoir that then-Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage "described Brill's efforts in Vienna, or lack thereof, as 'bull -- .'" Mr. Brill was "retired" from the State Department by Colin Powell before being rehired, over considerable internal and public protest, as head of the National Counter-Proliferation Center by then-National Intelligence Director John Negroponte.
No less odd is the NIE's conclusion that Iran abandoned its nuclear weapons program in 2003 in response to "international pressure." The only serious pressure we can recall from that year was the U.S. invasion of Iraq. At the time, an Iranian opposition group revealed the existence of a covert Iranian nuclear program to mill and enrich uranium and produce heavy water at sites previously unknown to U.S. intelligence. The Bush Administration's response was to punt the issue to the Europeans, who in 2003 were just beginning years of fruitless diplomacy before the matter was turned over to the U.N. Security Council.
Mr. Bush implied yesterday that the new estimate was based on "some new information," which remains classified. We can only hope so. But the indications that the Bush Administration was surprised by this NIE, and the way it scrambled yesterday to contain its diplomatic consequences, hardly inspire even "medium confidence" that our spooks have achieved some epic breakthrough. The truth could as easily be that the Administration in its waning days has simply lost any control of its bureaucracy -- not that it ever had much.
In any case, the real issue is not Iran's nuclear weapons program, but its nuclear program, period. As the NIE acknowledges, Iran continues to enrich uranium on an industrial scale -- that is, build the capability to make the fuel for a potential bomb. And it is doing so in open defiance of binding U.N. resolutions. No less a source than the IAEA recently confirmed that Iran already has blueprints to cast uranium in the shape of an atomic bomb core.
The U.S. also knows that Iran has extensive technical information on how to fit a warhead atop a ballistic missile. And there is considerable evidence that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps has been developing the detonation devices needed to set off a nuclear explosion at the weapons testing facility in Parchin. Even assuming that Iran is not seeking a bomb right now, it is hardly reassuring that they are developing technologies that could bring them within a screw's twist of one.
Mr. Bush's efforts to further sanction Iran at the U.N. were stalled even before the NIE's release. Those efforts will now be on life support. The NIE's judgments also complicate Treasury's efforts to persuade foreign companies to divest from Iran. Why should they lose out on lucrative business opportunities when even U.S. intelligence absolves the Iranians of evil intent? Calls by Democrats and their media friends to negotiate with Tehran "without preconditions" will surely grow louder.
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The larger worry here is how little we seem to have learned from our previous intelligence failures. Over the course of a decade, our intelligence services badly underestimated Saddam's nuclear ambitions, then overestimated them. Now they have done a 180-degree turn on Iran, and in such a way that will contribute to a complacency that will make it easier for Iran to build a weapon. Our intelligence services are supposed to inform the policies of elected officials, but increasingly their judgments seem to be setting policy. This is dangerous.
UPDATE: Gateway has an excellent post here.
John Bolton was on The O'Reilly Factor last night and agreed that nothing had changed with the information but that intelligence officers are playing politics with this latest report- the video is HERE.
UPDATE: Atlas reader and BTWA colleague Deb provided the most insightful and logical analysis of this deadly game of he said she said;
John Bolton was on O'Reilly last night, and he made a point about the partisanship pervasive at the higher levels of the intelligence community. He also tried to change the focus from the MSM meme (Bush loses credibility, now we can relax) to say nothing is changed -- Iran is still a "black hole" is the phrase I believe he used.
Having read Timmerman's book (Shadow Warriors) and in anticipation of Bolton's book (Not an Option), based on what Pamela has commented on Bolton's book, I am highly suspicious this is more manipulation by the intelligence agencies to direct policy to their liking and, bonus points, sideline Bush and destroy his effectiveness (whatever remains from their 7-year assault).
I find it a tad odd that the spin is that diplomacy and sanctions have worked to make Iran back off. ****IF**** (big IF) it is true Iran halted vital parts of production of nukes in 2003, then that would be because the kick ass U.S. MILITARY was next door, not because of sacred diplomacy. Lybia turned their program over, right? It's sitting somewhere down south on U.S. soil. My opinion is that (again) ***IF*** production was altered in 2003, it was because of the hard power of the U.S. military and its Commander in Chief, not because of the soft power of diplomacy/sanctions.
As for the spy agencies, Timmerman and Bolton are clear they have taken over. As I stated some days ago (while reading Timmerman), I am amazed that Bush got anything done the way he wanted because there has been and still is so much sabotage from the movers and shakers within the intelligence bureaucracy. Timmerman did not give high reviews to Negroponte, either. And remember, this dude was in Iraq where he could have done any number of things under the radar. And now he is coordinator of all the Agencies? The Dems wanted him in that position, remember.
A thought about the quick reversal of Intel estimates from 2005 to Dec, 2007. I would not put it past the agencies to long-term plan this for the express purpose of destroying Bush and, lest we forget, any Republican candidate running for the 2008 election. How to minimize or destroy the Republican advantage on perceived superior strength in formulating defense? Simple -- craft it so they look like warmongers that lie about intel to scare the American people so they can pre-emptively invade other nations. This, of course, has been the narrative all along about the neo-cons, Bush, Cheney, but with nothing to back it up except for insinuation. Now we have a smoking gun, correct? And the Republican candidates, who on the campaign trail have been talking tough on defense, will now fall under the same scrutiny and innuendo. Quite a good pay-off for the Conservophobes, wouldn't you say? It is not far-fetched, I think, to theorize the Agencies are capable and willing to purposely feed Bush alarming NIE's which make him saber-rattle, then come up with "new intel" to negate Bush's foundation -- he is EAGER TO BOMB IRAN without knowing much of the facts. I think that's exactly what happened with the Saddam/Niger/uranium/16 words story. Yes, other nations and operatives (cough, France, cough) were the more visible perpetrators of the fraud, but no way in hell was American operatives not also involved, perhaps orchestrating -- all to destory Bush's credibility. And it worked. Why not again?
I have more thoughts, but this is long enough as it is. Will be interested in others' sharing their own thoughts.
And finally, this from John, another sharp Atlas reader out yonder (uh...Yakima):
to me, it is very simple.-- why make the stuff, usable for weapons only (is my understanding, and if correct, crucial), if you do not intend to make weapons.
they are doing the "hard stuff," the rest is "easy."
they are making bombs, if they are making the part that goes "bang," is the inescapable conclusion, and i am so baffled why this report is given so much credance, other than it is another example of hysteria wanting to believe the "easy news" and latching onto it, like a drowning man to a toothpick.
sometimes people are very silly, even very smart people. in fact, when they are silly, they are very, very silly.