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

Friday, December 07, 2007

Questioning The Facts That Don't Fit The Dementia

The neocons call for Team B:

Senate Republicans are planning to call for a congressional commission to investigate the conclusions of the new National Intelligence Estimate on Iran as well as the specific intelligence that went into it, according to congressional sources.

The move is the first official challenge, but it comes amid growing backlash from conservatives and neoconservatives unhappy about the assessment that Iran halted a clandestine nuclear weapons program four years ago. It reflects how quickly the NIE has become politicized, with critics even going after the analysts who wrote it, and shows a split among Republicans.

Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) said he plans to introduce legislation next week to establish a commission modeled on a congressionally mandated group that probed a disputed 1995 intelligence estimate on the emerging missile threat to the United States over the next 15 years.

If Democrats dare to allow this politicization of the intelligence community, I really have to throw up my hands. But I don't think they will. I must admit to being amused by this freak-out on the right, where conflicting opinions MUST be wrong and must be challenged. If the NIE says Iran doesn't have a nuclear weapons program, the NIE must be doctored. Contrary opinions don't exist.

The truth is that the nation's intelligence professionals understand that Iran retains key capabilities to restart a nuclear program, and may do so. But the NIE reflects an assessment of the facts as they are, not as neocon warmongers wish them to be.

What's breathtaking is how the Administration is truly acting as if nothing happened. They're still moving forward on a missile defense program that is now simply ludicrous, as nobody has the capability to launch missiles that the program would purport to shoot down (even though it can't). They're still seeking support for sanctions against the Islamic Republic, and they're actually receiving that support.

"Iran continues to represent a threat," Mrs (German Chancellor Angela) Merkel said during a joint news conference with Mr Sarkozy in Paris.

She did not specifically express support for a new UN sanctions resolution against Iran, which the US is calling for.

"We and our partners would like to continue with the UN process," Mrs Merkel said.

"I think we and our partners need to continue to seek dialogue with Iran," she said.

Mr (French President Nicolas) Sarkozy said he agreed with his German counterpart that Iran still posed a danger, and that he supported the push for more sanctions.

"Notwithstanding the latest elements, everyone is fully conscious of the fact that there is a will of the Iranian leaders to obtain nuclear weapons.

"What made Iran move up to now, it was sanctions and firmness," he said.

Look, the neocons have been wrong about every foreign policy challenge of the last 50 years. They make things up whenever the facts don't fit their politics. The great danger is that the people in power act based on those self-created facts. Frankly, let's see some hearings on the Iran NIE. I'd love to know why the report was delayed for about a year. I'd love to know why the President first said that he was informed about changes in the intelligence on Iran in August, but he wasn't told what the changes were. I'd love to know if this speculation is true.

There are, oversimplifying, two threads going around, one that the 'Iran doesn't have an active program' preliminary finding was circulating in the Administration in late '06 (Hersh, etc), and the other that Bush was told about the upcoming finding in August by McConnell, after which he changed his characterization so as not to be so obviously lying about the nature of the threat (all the while still intentionally leaving a grossly misleading impression).

The two threads can be reconciled. The basis for the findings had, indeed, been circulating beginning in late 2006, and ever since. One has to assume that Cheney and his forces marshaled full fire on those findings, and successfully suppressed them, preventing their release. That effort, however, eventually failed, probably due to intelligence and Pentagon unwillingness to take the fall for another war.

What happened in early August was not that Bush learned of the findings, but that McConnell informed him that the NIE containing the findings would be released. Those on the side of releasing them (which had to have included Gates) simply won the battle, and either faced down Cheney, threatened to resign if they lost or utilized whatever other strategy required. It was not the discovery of the underlying truth of the findings that caused the change in rhetoric (becoming more vague on Iran's nuclear status, but more bellicose on Iran generally). It was the realization that the NIE would become public.

Bang that gavel. Thanks, Sen. Ensign.

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