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December 07, 2007

Hating on the NIE

Ilan Goldenberg devastates the attempts of conservatives to undermine the National Intelligence Estimate here. As he says, the first fact to keep in mind is that "none of these people have access to the actual intelligence. They are sitting at think tanks outside of the intelligence community and simply haven't seen the data. This was a report that shows the basic consensus of the nation's 16 intelligence and it was produced on the Bush Administration's watch and ultimately approved by the Director of National Intelligence, Mike McConnell, who is a Bush Administration appointee."

But let me make the obvious point: This isn't about the intelligence. Do you remember Daniel Pletka or Norman Podhoretz counseling extreme skepticism of the intelligence surrounding the Iraq weapons program? And that intelligence actually was wrong. Worse, from this perspective, is to recall their opposition or, in the best cases, silence, to a thoroughgoing investigation of our intelligence failures in the lead-up to the Iraq war. In other words: This sudden outpouring of concern has nothing to do with methodological concerns with the NIE. It's an attempt to discredit the NIE due to ideological concerns with its conclusions.

December 7, 2007 | Permalink


Dead on, Ezra! Dead on.

Posted by: Chris | Dec 7, 2007 3:25:08 PM

Why is the NIE correct this time? They failed in regards to 9/11 and were completely wrong on Iraq's WMD program.

Why is the left so ready to believe the same agencies who said Saddam had WMD?

I guess it depends on what you want to believe.

Posted by: abg | Dec 7, 2007 4:02:28 PM

Well, abg, the NIE is correct this time because the report supports the anti-war agenda. If it supported a need for war, the howling from the left would be deafening...

It's as simple as that.

Posted by: El viajero | Dec 7, 2007 4:10:32 PM

abg: they (the CIA) were not wrong. Recall Doug Feith's stovepiped 'alternate' channel to Bush thru Rummy? Why did they go the alternate route. Because CIA couldn't find a strong case that Saddam HAD WMDs, and debunked most or all of Feith's curvebally 'facts'. Bush listened to Cheney, who regularly beat up on the CIA for not tellig him what he wanted.

Worth underlining: This is NIE of SIXTEEN intellgence agencies in the newly formed (since Iraq) McConnell archipeligo. Are all 16 just wrong? No, the difference is that Rummy/Feith no longer have direct access to Bush in the alternate channel - as Congress intended. And Gates is not sharpening the edge of the axe as Rummy did, and Rice isn't fighting Gates.

Intelligence that is manipulated after analysis and before presentation is not intelligence, it is propaganda. That's the difference it appears between Iraq and Iran. Cheney's thumb got pulled off the scale, somehow. And Hurrah for that!

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Dec 7, 2007 5:13:09 PM

Intelligence wasn't wrong about either 9/11 or Saddam's WMD. In the former case, the investigators were pulled away, and in the latter case, real investigators were sidelined to make room for a bogus story that served political needs.

Ezra is right: the intelligence wasn't wrong, it was just irrelevant to a pro-war political agenda. The difference now is that Neocon influence has weakened to the point where actual intelligence can be heard by the public.

Posted by: RLaing | Dec 7, 2007 7:59:09 PM

So jim and rl, if BUSHCO formulated the intell to serve their needs in 2002 and 2003, why did French, German, British, Russian, and UN intell come to the same conclusion? The UN passed resolutions over Iraq's WMD program. Did they cherry-pick the intell from all these nations to promote a pro-war agenda?

From my understanding, the UN and these countries seem to agree this time as well. The same organizations that were wrong about Iraq are right this time?

The reason I throw the intell failure of 9/11 is because the left likes to point to 9/11 and Iraq as the reason we can't trust the agencies in the NIE. I personally believe very few people saw 9/11 coming and it would have been very hard to detect and stop in the climate of the pre-9/11 USA. I doubt that that type of attack could have happened in Israel, even before 9/11/2001.

Israel doesn't agree with the report, and they have the most reliable intell agency in the world. In the middle east at very least.

Posted by: abg | Dec 7, 2007 10:39:56 PM

Saying "This isn't about the intelligence" isn't very intelligent. Let's just do whatever.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 7, 2007 10:41:49 PM

It is interesting that there was direct disagreement to the reports findings by Israel and responses by Germany, France and England were mixed (at best).

Certainly not the same ringing endorsement of the report that Congress is giving it.

Wonder why that is if Iran is / has nothing to be concerned about?

Posted by: m | Dec 7, 2007 10:45:04 PM

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