Here are three alternative explanations for the US publication of its National Intelligence Assessment (NIE) that the Mullahs’ bomb program has, like the dead parrot, ceased to be. The most convincing one is encouraging.
Theory 1: Reds Under the Bed
This has a lefty cabal distorting the NIE to spite the president – here’s the WSJ:
…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).
It’s conceivable Messrs Fingar, Van Diepen, and Brill are villains.
But if a nuclear armed Iran kills millions of Jews, these men face the fates of those complicit in Hitler’s Holocaust – dishonor and death. That risk surely outweighs any short term pleasure they might get from jabbing their president.
So this theory doesn’t wash.
Theory 2: Bureaucratic Incompetence
John Bolton agrees with the WSJ theory, but adds another:
…the risks of disinformation by Iran are real. We have lost many fruitful sources inside Iraq in recent years because of increased security and intelligence tradecraft by Iran. The sudden appearance of new sources should be taken with more than a little skepticism…
the NIE suffers from a common problem in government: the overvaluation of the most recent piece of data. In the bureaucracy, where access to information is a source of rank and prestige, ramming home policy changes with the latest hot tidbit is commonplace, and very deleterious…
…many involved in drafting and approving the NIE were not intelligence professionals but refugees from the State Department, brought into the new central bureaucracy of the director of national intelligence.
Plus they know nothing about building nuclear weapons, so they’re incompetents.
So this theory has a fading administration, exhausted by the prosecution of a successful war, losing power to the second rate – rather as happened to Churchill at the end of WW2.
But why didn’t the administration control the report? Even lame ducks can bite.
So this theory doesn’t explain why the administration let the lunatics run the asylum, and thus is implausible.
Theory 3: Misinformation
Consider Dick Cheney’s comments:
“I don’t have any reason to question what the [intelligence] community has produced,” he said. “Now, there are things they don’t know. There’s always the possibility that circumstances will change. But I think they’ve done the best job they can with the intelligence that’s available.”…
Cheney said the assessment was released because “there was a general belief that we all shared that it was important to put it out — that it was not likely to stay classified for long, anyway,” he said.
Cheney said that “especially in light of what happened with respect to Iraq and the NIE on weapons of destruction,” officials wanted to be “upfront with what we knew.”
He said he agreed that was “the right call.” So he thought it might leak? “Everything leaks,” he said with a chuckle.
It seems unlikely that a patriot like Cheney would be this relaxed about such a disaster. But if the administration wanted the Mullahs and Russians to relax, the best way to do it would be hand security assessment to politicized incompetents.
That would explain Cheney’s chuckles.
If so, Tel Aviv might yet make it into the 22nd century.