As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Big Question

We know that Dick Cheney and his White House functionaries sought to delay the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran that today has exploded onto the scene. So Kevin Drum is right to ask these questions:

This NIE was apparently finished a year ago, and its basic parameters were almost certainly common knowledge in the White House well before that. This means that all the leaks, all the World War III stuff, all the blustering about the IAEA — all of it was approved for public consumption after Cheney/Bush/Rice/etc. knew perfectly well it was mostly baseless.

Why were the key judgments finally released? Cheney didn't want them released, Bush surely didn't want them released, and DNI Mike McConnell told Congress a few weeks ago that he didn't want them released. So who did?

These are great questions for a reporter to explore. That is, if they stop writing headlines like "Iran STILL Capable Of Nuclear Weapons!"

In addition, Matt Yglesias notes that not only does this square with all contemporaneous reports about Iran from intelligence experts, but it squares with Iran's offer in 2003 of a grand bargain with the United States, with the exchange of the dismantling of their nuclear ambitions for stronger diplomatic ties and removing sanctions. The international community brought this about in Iran, not the invasion of Iraq, but the point is that a deal on Iran was extremely possible in 2003, and the regime is actually concerned with international prestige and security guarantees, and not the irrational "wild men" which is the neocons' preferred portrayal.

When more information trickles out about how this NIE got released, and it almost certainly will, things should get VERRRRY interesting.

UPDATE: I should mention that Drum believes it was Congressional pressure, particularly from the Democrats, that forced the release. If that's true, all that I have to say is that elections have consequences.

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