Henry Kissinger appears in the pages of the Washington Post today to help the Bush administration's narrative along the road.
First he hypes the risk:
The reality is that the concern about Iranian nuclear weapons has had three components: the production of fissile material, the development of missiles and the building of warheads. Heretofore, production of fissile material has been treated as by far the greatest danger, and the pace of Iranian production of fissile material has accelerated since 2006. So has the development of missiles of increasing range. What appears to have been suspended is the engineering aimed at the production of warheads.However, the IAEA have said that they have all 3,000 Iranian centrifuges and the low-grade enriched uranium (LEU) they have produced under seal, surveillance and snap inspections (six so far this year). They have said it is impossible for Iran to use those centrifuges or that product to produce highly enriched uranium (HEU) without their knowledge. The world has an effective tripwire in place. They have found no evidence of alternate enrichment facilities and the paranoid fantasies of rightwing pundits that some other nation might provide them with enough HEU are ridiculous. Analysis of the residues from any explosion (even a test) would identify the donor, who would suffer fiery death. Until the IAEA rings the alarm bell, the timeline is on hold.
The NIE holds that Iran may be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon by the end of 2009 and, with increasing confidence, more warheads by the period 2010 to 2015.
Then he gets to his real point:
I have often defended the dedicated members of the intelligence community. This is why I am extremely concerned about the tendency of the intelligence community to turn itself into a kind of check on, instead of a part of, the executive branch. When intelligence personnel expect their work to become the subject of public debate, they are tempted into the roles of surrogate policymakers and advocates. Thus the deputy director for intelligence estimates explained the release of the NIE as follows: Publication was chosen because the estimate conflicted with public statements by top U.S. officials about Iran, and “we felt it was important to release this information to ensure that an accurate presentation is available.” That may explain releasing the facts but not the sources and methods that have been flooding the media. The paradoxical result of the trend toward public advocacy is to draw intelligence personnel more deeply than ever into the public maelstrom.In short his advice to the intelligence community, Congress and the next incumbent of the Oval Office is that they should shut the intelligence community up and make sure it goes back to being an entirely anonymous and compliant tool of the Unitary Executive.
The executive branch and the intelligence community have gone through a rough period. The White House has been accused of politicizing intelligence; the intelligence community has been charged with promoting institutional policy biases. The Key Judgments document accelerates that controversy, dismaying friends and confusing adversaries.
Intelligence personnel need to return to their traditional anonymity. Policymakers and Congress should once again assume responsibility for their judgments without involving intelligence in their public justifications. To define the proper balance between the user and producer of intelligence is a task that cannot be accomplished at the end of an administration. It is, however, one of the most urgent challenges a newly elected president will face.
It's advice that N-Pods Commentary magazine and WaPo shill for the White House David Ignatius are just fine with. Both take it the next logical step and argue that congressional oversight of the intelligence community should end. After all, such oversight directly conflicts with the IC's role as a secretive and unquestioned executive tool. Kissinger isn't so dumb as to be unaware that's where his argument leads.
Kissinger is the man who was Nixon's NSA and who had to step down after being Bush's appointee to head the 9/11 commission due to "conflicts of interest". He's a friend of Conrad Black and sat on ultra-conservative newspaper publisher Hollinger's board while that board looked the other way on Black's thieving. There are such serious allegations of war crimes around his time as NSA that Kissinger can't even visit Brazil, France and other nations without fear of prosecution.
That such a man is being given support from the Right for such pronouncements should worry you more than a little.