Gimlet eye on the NIE

I’m not instantly inclined to credit anything said by Mark Falcoff of the American Enterprise Institute. He is, after all, the neocon who called America a “proposition country” in Commentary in the early ’90s. I—an assiduous reader of Commentary in those years, which could not be said of most immigration restrictionists and paleocons—was the first person who drew critical attention to Falcoff’s phrase, and it thereafter became a commonplace on the paleoconservative right in describing the neoconservative view of America.

That said, Falcoff seems to know something about the U.S. intelligence community, and his withering view of the reliability of the National Intelligence Estimate—namely that the intelligence analysts in the CIA are ideological twins to the liberals in the State Department, and that the NIE is therefore worthless trash—has the chill of truth.

But if that is the case, it still leaves unanswered the question why Busherino publicly accepted a finding that undercuts everything his administration has been saying and seeking to accomplish for the last several years with regard to Iran’s nukular weapons program.

* * *

By the way, if it is truly the case that any possibility of a U.S. military strike against Iran’s nuclear assets during the remaining 13 months of this administration is now out the window, then what had been the sole remaining prospect of Busherino’s doing anything as president that might require our rallying around him as our national leader is also out the window. There is therefore no remaining political reason why the American people should restrain themselves from expressing their true opinions about this president who during the course of his presidency has, even more than Clinton, expressed his utter contempt for them, as well as his preference for his Saudi pals, his Mexican retainers, his inner circle of idiot liberal females, and the masses of Latin Americans both inside the U.S. and outside the U.S. clamoring to get in. With yesterday’s press conference, the Bush presidency has effectively come to an end. All that’s left for the Napoleon from west Texas is weekends at Camp David watching football games on tv with Condi.

- end of initial entry -

Ken Hechtman writes:

There are two questions here: “Is the report’s conclusion true?” and “Why now?” And they’re separate questions.

Is it true that Iran no longer has an active nuclear weapons program? I don’t believe it is, but I can’t prove that. Almost all the evidence for it is documentary. I trust the documents because I trust the source (the Mujahideen-e-Khalq). Not everyone does. The one piece of physical evidence anyone has ever found raises more questions than it answers. In 2004, the IAEA inspectors found traces of 36 percent U-235 enriched uranium in some Iranian equipment. The Iranians’ first explanation was that the traces must have already been on the equipment when they bought it from Russia. That turned out to be a lie. The equipment was never bought from Russia. It was produced in Iran. However, the enriched uranium was produced in Russia, not in Iran. The isotope ratio and trace elements match a grade of uranium used in the reactors of Russian nuclear submarines. There is no NPT-approved civilian use for this grade of uranium but it can’t be used to make a bomb either. The obvious guess why the Iranians have it is if they begin the enrichment process with that instead of with yellowcake uranium ore, it drastically reduces the time and equipment needed to make a bomb.

Why now? At the end of the day, the CIA is a publisher with one customer—the White House. Most of the time, the White House crafts the policy to the CIA’s information. Once in a while, and I suspect this is one of those times, the CIA crafts the information to whatever the White House has already decided to do. I’m guessing the White House (and that could mean either the Bush Administration or any or all of the candidates in the field) wants to avoid a third war right now. If they’re going to do that, they’ll need cover to walk away from the last few years’ saber-rattling rhetoric.

Alan Levine writes:

I have only just got caught up on VFR since last Sunday.

Like you, I was sorely puzzled by the NIE. Your comments were excellent. I would extrapolate them further to suggest that shrub junior (I think Busherino is too dignified) perhaps finally realized—correctly—that whatever the actual situation, he was too weak to lead any effective action against the Iranians, so either encouraged people sabotaging a hard policy, or let them go ahead uncontested, to avoid admitting this point—possibly even to himself.

It is also possible that he is so demoralized that he does not or cannot bring himself to do anything. Johnson during the last year of his Presidency might be a comparison, although perhaps too favorable to shrub.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 06, 2007 01:55 AM | Send

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):