How to create out-of-control terror, panic, and pandemonium among the Bushites: take away their excuse for war:
President Bush got the world's attention this fall when he warned that a nuclear-armed Iran might lead to World War III. But his stark warning came at least a month or two after he had first been told about fresh indications that Iran had actually halted its nuclear weapons program.
The new intelligence report released yesterday not only undercut the administration's alarming rhetoric over Iran's nuclear ambitions but could also throttle Bush's effort to ratchet up international sanctions and take off the table the possibility of preemptive military action before the end of his presidency.
Gosh. That's really a shame, isn't it?
No one is more down in the dumps at the news that Iran ended its nuclear weapons program in 2003 than Norman Podhoretz; he's sitting in his office darkly muttering about Bush-hating spooks hatching conspiracies to destroy Dubya's beautiful war:
I must confess to suspecting that the intelligence community, having been excoriated for supporting the then universal belief that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, is now bending over backward to counter what has up to now been a similarly universal view (including as is evident from the 2005 NIE, within the intelligence community itself) that Iran is hell-bent on developing nuclear weapons. I also suspect that, having been excoriated as well for minimizing the time it would take Saddam to add nuclear weapons to his arsenal, the intelligence community is now bending over backward to maximize the time it will take Iran to reach the same goal.
But I entertain an even darker suspicion. It is that the intelligence community, which has for some years now been leaking material calculated to undermine George W. Bush, is doing it again. This time the purpose is to head off the possibility that the President may order air strikes on the Iranian nuclear installations. As the intelligence community must know, if he were to do so, it would be as a last resort, only after it had become undeniable that neither negotiations nor sanctions could prevent Iran from getting the bomb, and only after being convinced that it was very close to succeeding. How better, then, to stop Bush in his tracks than by telling him and the world that such pressures have already been effective and that keeping them up could well bring about “a halt to Iran’s entire nuclear weapons program”—especially if the negotiations and sanctions were combined with a goodly dose of appeasement or, in the NIE’s own euphemistic formulation, “with opportunities for Iran to achieve its security, prestige, and goals for regional influence in other ways.”
Meanwhile, Stephen Hadley is frantically trying to turn lemons into lemonade:
The White House struggled to portray the estimate as a validation of Mr. Bush’s strategy, a contention that required swimming against the tide of Mr. Bush’s and Mr. Cheney’s occasionally apocalyptic language.
The national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, said the estimate showed that suspicions about Iran’s intentions were warranted, given that it had a weapons program in the first place.
“On balance, the estimate is good news,” Mr. Hadley said, appearing at the White House. “On one hand, it confirms that we were right to be worried about Iran seeking to develop nuclear weapons. On the other hand, it tells us that we have made some progress in trying to ensure that that does not happen. But it also tells us that the risk of Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon remains a very serious problem.”
Gives a whole new meaning to "sweating bullets."
This is what Memeorandum looked like this morning.
Think Progress gives specific examples of how the White House ignored the report findings, despite knowing about them at least since the latter part of 2006, and how the intelligence estimate was "blocked by administration officials who wanted it to be more in line with Vice President Cheney’s hardline views."
Cernig points to a Glenn Greenwald post, "... excellent ... even by [Glenn's] standards, [which] points out how the neocon black helicopter crowd at and around the White House have consistently used their dark suspicions and conspiracy theories to blacken the name of Mohammed El-Baradei, trying to get him fired at least twice" -- despite "the inconvenient fact ... that the IAEA director was right about Iran just as he was right about Iraq." Glenn also reminds us that Norman "dark suspicions" Podhoretz is Rudy Giuliani's Senior Policy Advisor.
John Cole admits that, as braced as he was for right-wing spin, he was blindsided by some of it:
I gotta admit, when I heard the news that the new NIE stated that Iran had rolled back any designs on nuclear weapons as far back as 2003, I knew it would be spun by the Bush dead-enders, but even I didn’t see this coming. The Instapundit:This story lets the Bush Administration take credit for pressuring Iran into stopping its weapons program by invading Iraq—meaning that the invasion really did end a major WMD threat—and also punt further serious action on the Iran issue to the next administration. Cui bono? I think it’s pretty obvious. . . .
Up next, why we should invade Japan to solve our North Korea problem. You gotta give these guys some credit for chutzpah, if nothing else.
However, at least one blogger did see this coming (linked from Balloon Juice).
Spencer Ackerman posts on the speculation that Mike McConnell (Director of National Intelligence) might have released the new NIE under pressure from Democrats in Congress. But that's not why I'm linking to Spencer's post. I'm linking to him because of that photo of McConnell. Look at that face. Don't you think it's the Sad Face made flesh?