Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Sickening spin on Iran NIE report

By Libby

Good Lord, can someone hand me the dramamine. I don't know how the fringe right can stand the spin. It's making me seasick. I'm of course talking about the 'analysis' of the NIE report that was finally released. The fringe wing seems to be settling down into a three narratives.

First, it's allegedly a vindication of Bush's bullying of Iran. Invading Iraq scared the piddle out of Iran and thus their Dear Leader was justified in destroying a country that had nothing to do with terrorism prior to our invasion. We'll just conveniently ignore the part of the report that says the program ceased on international diplomatic pressure.

The second story line seems to be, this proves nothing. Iran is still a very dangerous foe and why should we trust the same intelligence community that so badly screwed up the WMD intel on Iraq? And now a third narrative arises, pushing back against the notion that Bush and Cheney have irresponsibly been pounding the war drums for a pre-emptive strike against Iran nuclear facilities, knowing full well that that none existed.

Capt Ed leaps into the fray on this front by quoting Rick Moran.

The assessment, under preparation for more than 18 months, was completed on Tuesday and President Bush and Vice President Cheney were briefed on Wednesday, intelligence officials said. Hadley said Bush first learned in August or September about intelligence indicating Iran had halted its weapons program and was advised it would take time to evaluate.

Of course, Ed doesn't bother to link to the original WaPo story, so let's just take a peek at what it really said.

Still, the administration understood how explosive the new conclusions would be and kept them tightly held. Hadley said Bush was first told in August or September about intelligence indicating Iran had halted its weapons program, but was advised it would take time to evaluate. Vice President Cheney, Hadley and other top officials were briefed the week before last. Intelligence officials formalized their conclusions on Tuesday and briefed Bush the next day.

A fine line between completed and formalized, but it's easily differentiated. As Gareth Porter pointed out a month ago, the report was completed over a year ago, but Cheney refused to accept the results and sent it back repeatedly for revisions. The last thing Cheney wanted was for the NIE to reinforce the IAEA's "long-standing conclusion that there is 'no evidence' of an undeclared nuclear program in Iran." To their credit, this time the intel agencies refused to cook the books.

Not that this will deter Cheney and the warmongers at all. As the BBC reported yesterday:

One source, who has close links to US intelligence, said that members of Vice President Dick Cheney's staff continued to call for military strikes against Iran "on a daily basis".

Cheney has had Iran in his sights for years and anyone who contradicted the proscribed 'reality,' like for instance Negroponte, was fired. And the idea that Iraq was a failure of the intelligence agencies would be laughable, if it wasn't so dangerous a lie.

It's useful to remember, as Ray McGovern explained, how the 2002 intelligence was fixed.

Consider, for example, the daring recruitment in mid-2002 of Saddam Hussein's foreign minister, Naji Sabri, who was successfully "turned" into working for the CIA and quickly established his credibility. Sabri told us there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

My former colleagues, perhaps a bit naively, were quite sure this would come as a welcome relief to President George W. Bush and his advisers. Instead, they were told that the White House had no further interest in reporting from Sabri; rather, that the issue was not really WMD, it was "regime change." (Don't feel embarrassed if you did not know this; although it is publicly available, our corporate- owned, war profiteering media has largely suppressed this key story.)

As I said on my other blog last night, we should be careful not to allow this report to lull us into a false sense of security.

They still have over a year left to advance their plots. They would be crazy to bomb before closer to the end of Bush's term anyway. The PR blitz in September was just the first wave of shock and awe propaganda designed to build the false narrative into an accepted wisdom.

Never underestimate the long range thinking of the neocons. It's useful to remember that even today, over 40% of Americans still believe Saddam had something to do with 9/11. I wouldn't be too quick to think this a blunder or even a setback to their plans. They built their "OMG we're all going to die - it's WWIII" narrative over the whole year they knew it wasn't true.

I'm not convinced that this report will dissuade Cheney from pursuing his heart's desire. In fact, I feel certain he'll continue to agitate behind closed doors to acheive it.