Friday, December 7, 2007

Pushback against the NIE on Iran


Over the past five days, the pushback against the NIE findings would amuse of it weren't such an indictment of our rotting press corpse compounded by the tragic consequences of a rogue presidency, Bushie's neocon sweeties, and the Repub intel committees that let the preznut run amok.

The usual wingnuts -- certifiable Bushwackos who ultimately make million$ reaching millions with erroneous infotainment news and opinion -- have lined up to discredit the NIE, the most unpoliticized and authoritative intelligence assessment on Iran in years. The mission: Protect their precious ideology and the worst president in U.S. history who continues to hype the Iranian threat. Ergo, trash the NIE, Democrats, the IAEA, ElBaradei, Europeans, and Bill Clinton to persuade people their Dear Leader's foreign policy isn't a national security train wreck.

A sampling of this week's propaganda about the NIE:

[Keep reading...]

* Steve Benen's Fox News roundup, a thorough report on Tuesday's contentious talking points from the Bushwacko Right.

* Crooks and Liars alerts us to the alleged CIA plot to subvert the Bush Doctrine authored by the head psychotic of the neocon ward, Norman Podhoretz, also foreign policy advisor to Rudy Giuliani. More in-depth details here.

* ThinkProgess dares to go where I prefer not to tread without galoshes for my keyboard ...further deconstruction of Podhoretz' reaction to the NIE. "He insisted the Iranians were very close to developing a nuclear weapon" and likens negotiating with Iran to the same effect that "Munich had with Hitler." See the TP Update for a creative conspiracy theory: It's a plot to affect the elections! Ooga booga!

* Former CIA analyst Larry Johnson leads us through the twisted minds of neocons gone ballistic.

* Emptywheel reveals John Bolton's warped history, one caveat of which was featured in a Dec. 6 Washington Post editorial, The Flaws In the Iran Report. More pushback on the IC's new sourcing rules used for the NIE. Plus, a nifty NIE timeline so you can keep track of who boosted what and lied when.

* Katrina vanden Heuvel at The Nation takes The Post's Al Kamen to the woodshed for his "snarky" hit job on the IAEA's Director General Mohamed ElBaradei and his remarks about the NIE. The quote with ouch from Katrina: "Maybe Kamen and his paper should set aside some time to reflect on how dead wrong they were in blasting ElBaradei on his Iraq assessment." Self-awareness dips low at the WaPo's editorial page so mendacity abounds.

* Bolton on CNN without a disclaimer... shameless. How can CNN advertise itself as "the most trusted name in news" and grant air time to an untrustworthy neocon kook? Dec. 4:

BOLTON: Well, I think it's potentially wrong. But I would also say many of the people who wrote this are former State Department employees who, during their career at the State Department, never gave much attention to the threat of the Iranian program. Now they are writing as members of the intelligence community, the same opinions that they have had four and five years ago.
BLITZER: President Bush says he has confidence in this new NIE, and he says they revamped the intelligence community after the blunders involving weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. He says there's a whole new community out there and he has total confidence in what the national intelligence director is doing.
BOLTON: Well, I have to say I don't. I think there's a very real risk here that the intelligence community is like generals fighting the last war. They got Iraq wrong and they're overcompensating by understating the potential threat from Iran.
* More Bolton lunacy on Iran. See and hear him live raving at YouTube -- Dec. 4 on O'Reilly's spinathon in defense of Bush's Iranian warmongering despite the NIE -- Dec. 4 on CNN when Bolton slammed the NIE (excerpts above) -- his desire in August to attack Iran within six months -- earlier in June more warmongering against Iran for arming the Taliban (whom Shiite Iran hates) in Afghanistan -- and earlier in May, Bolton "hoped" that Iran would withdraw from the NPT or to expel IAEA inspectors. Bolton either requires medication for his delusions or he's a stone-cold sociopath. Take your pick.

* Tom Friedman's brain gasping like a hooked brook trout flopped from its cranium to lunge at parody -- an Iranian NIE on America -- that implicitly trivialized the American NIE on Iran:
As you’ll recall, in the wake of 9/11, we were extremely concerned that the U.S. would develop a covert program to end its addiction to oil, which would be the greatest threat to Iranian national security. In fact, after Bush’s 2006 State of the Union, in which he decried America’s oil addiction, we had “high confidence” that a comprehensive U.S. clean energy policy would emerge. We were wrong.
Stephen Colbert has absolutely nothing to fear.

* Michael Ledeen of the spin tank, the American Enterprise Institute, christens the NIE, The Great Intelligence Scam, at Pajamas Media. I decline to link to his scurrilous dreck so click here for excerpt and the link.

* Where's the ooey-gooey fudge factor with a wingnut center? NRO always delivers the goodies:
[1] If Iran was working on a nuclear weapons program until 2003, what does this say about U.S. policy in the late Clinton period and European engagement?
[2] Are [Democrats] now to suggest that Republicans have been warmongering over a nonexistent threat for partisan purposes? But to advance that belief is also to concede that Iran, like Libya, likely came to a conjecture (around say early spring 2003?) that it was not wise for regimes to conceal WMD programs, given the unpredictable, but lethal American military reaction.
[3] Two years ago, the [Intelligence Community] — the same IC that claimed to have detailed information about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, that famously missed the boat on al-Qaeda, and that has had at least two spy networks inside Iran rolled up in the past couple of decades — told us it was all but certain that Iran was “determined to develop nuclear weapons.” [Ed. translation: They were wrong then so they're wrong now.]
[4] What the NIE does not explain — what no one has explained — is why the world’s third-largest exporter of oil and gas needs nuclear power.... ...It’s no secret that careerists at the CIA and State have been less interested in implementing the president’s policies on Iran, Iraq, and North Korea than in sabotaging them at every opportunity. Sources close to the intelligence community question the objectivity of the NIE’s Iran conclusions, and tell us that three principal authors of the report are longtime critics of the administration’s policy who have axes to grind.
[5] The attitude among many people — like say, John Edwards — is that we dodged a bullet with this NIE. But that's only true if this NIE is right. Indeed, as a matter of national security, it seems to me one could make the case that it would be better for the NIE to be wrong the other way. That is to say, if the NIE is wrong, better it be wrong on the side of caution. Which would you rather: An NIE that says Iran isn't pursuing nuclear weapons when it really is? Or, an NIE that says Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons when it really isn't? How you answer that question probably says a lot about how you view foreign policy generally.
The last chewy nugget from Jonah Goldberg seems to justify dishonesty, the kind that led to Operation FUBAR in Iraq. Yes, such distorted morality shrieks loudly about one's foreign policy view.

I'm certain plenty more pushback against the NIE on Iran skips merrily along to a polka beat but I've got to stop delving at this point. My head hurts from propaganda overload.

Can't wait for what Lil' Tim (who's hosting Rudy!) and the roundtables of the Sunday funnies have to say. Serious talk about the success of the Bush Doctrine could upstage the key findings in the NIE. Wanna bet?

Know of other NIE wingnuttery? Leave your picks in Comments. I'll post an update.

UPDATE: Digby (with a h/t to Josh Marshall) noted "the administration was changing its focus from WMD to Iranian influence in Iraq as a justification for the war they insisted must be waged." Summing up, Digby writes (with emphasis):
It seemed obvious to me that the Iran obsessives were working hard to build a case that even if Iran didn't have the bomb, it had declared war on the US by killing our soldiers in Iraq and we had to start bombing them post-haste anyway. Kyl-Lieberman was clearly designed to further that goal, no matter what Clinton and others say about it now.
Their problem seems to be that The Man Called Petraeus's surge has resulted in a decline in violence and urgency about Iraq --- and they couldn't hold back the NIE any longer. (It would have leaked before long with all this warmongering going on.) They finally had to admit that they couldn't get this defective casus bellis off the assembly line.
They knew. A whole bunch of them knew, even that nutcase Ledeen.
Which makes the pushback the empty rhetoric of gnashing teeth.