Monday, December 3, 2007


I don't usually like to talk about national/world politics on this here wee lil' blog, but this is just far too interesting/important to let pass without comment.

According to the most recently released National Intelligence Estimate concerning Iran's nuclear ambitions, that country froze its nuclear arms program in 2003. That means that the previous year or so of saber rattling coming from the US government (the Bush administration specifically) has proven to be, much like their talk leading up to the Iraq War, pretty ill-founded. And knowingly, too, as the data from this report was likely available, in some part at least, to the president and other high-level officials prior to its release to the public.

The administration called new attention to the threat posed by Iran earlier this year when President Bush had suggested in October that a nuclear-armed Iran could lead to “World War III” and Vice President Dick Cheney promised “serious consequences” if the government in Tehran did not abandon its nuclear program.

Yet at the same time officials were airing these dire warnings about the Iranian threat, analysts at the Central Intelligence Agency were secretly concluding that Iran’s nuclear weapons work halted years ago and that international pressure on the Islamic regime in Tehran was working.

Unless, of course, extremely important information like this was being withheld from the people (unfortunately) running the country. But I somehow doubt that.

Of course, the far-right is already spinning this info to their benefit, claiming that the Bush administration can now take credit for pressuring Iran to stop their nuclear weapons program by invading Iraq. Even though that wasn't one of the reasons given for starting that particular war--none of which, it turns out, were correct.

The new report comes out just over five years after a deeply flawed N.I.E. concluded that Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons programs and was determined to restart its nuclear program — an estimate that led to congressional authorization for a military invasion of Iraq, although most of the report’s conclusions turned out to be wrong.

Intelligence officials said that the specter of the botched 2002 N.I.E. hung over their deliberations over the Iran assessment, leading them to treat the document with particular caution.

“We felt that we needed to scrub all the assessments and sources to make sure we weren’t misleading ourselves,” said one senior intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

At least some people can actually learn from their past mistakes. More and more, though, I doubt that Bush and company have any ability to do so, instead proving themselves to have more in common with, say, a particularly smart blueberry scone than with thoughtful, intelligent human beings.

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