Some readers may have raised their eyebrows at our assertion on Monday that the "new" NIE on Iran's nuclear weapons program -- ... has been [minor tweaks aside] in the can for nearly a year now.
This statement is significantly at variance with the administration's narrative that the NIE was only completed last week, and moreover, that the paradigm-shifting information about the state of Iran's nuclear weapons program was acquired in late Summer via "intercepts."
Never forget one of the key teachings from The Book of Meatballs, "Any time you hear of a U.S. official speaking publicly about 'intercepts' -- even on background -- some sort of bullshittery is afoot."
One reason we were able to make our claim about the well-seasoned NIE is that we had pointed readers in November 2006 to the important part of a typically logorrheic piece by Seymour Hersh in our post titled: CIA Finds No Evidence Of Iranian Nuclear Weapons Program.
Corroboration was furnished in the February 12, 2007 edition of The American Conservative magazine. Ex-CIA officer Philip Giraldi wrote:
An as yet unreleased U.S. National Intelligence Estimate on Iran concludes that the evidence for a weapons program is largely circumstantial and inconclusive, while the Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte reported that Iran is five to ten years away from having a weapon even if it accelerates the process and no one interferes with its development. Negroponte was predictably fired for his unwillingness to alter the intelligence, and the NIE is unlikely to see the light of day unless it is rewritten to conclude that Iran is an immediate threat.
[To make matters worse, at the time that Negroponte was told to hit the bricks, administration officials were telling anyone who would listen that the ex-DNI was bored with his job, only went into the office for a few hours a day, and spent the rest of the work week beside the pool at a health club.]
Unless Giraldi and Seymour Hersh are both blessed with uncanny powers of precognition (in which case they would be well advised to become professional lottery players), the White House put its credibility (don't laugh) on the line in the furtherance of the anti-Iran Info Op.
At some point they decided that the pressure op against Iran was more important than devising a policy around the facts as they knew them to be.
Don't believe them when they say that the president was not kept fully briefed about critical developments regarding Iran's nuclear weapons program.
As most of you folks here know, it doesn't work that way.
And now, some characters -- the most capable of whom whose training, experience and temperament qualify them to be "War on Christmas" theorists -- are calling for a review of the intelligence behind the NIE's key judgments about Iran's nuclear program.
PS Though somewhat distant from being in perfect interpretive congruence with our NIE pontifications, ZenPundit's Mark Zafranski has generously put together a thoughtful NIE roundup while Haft of the Spear's and Threat Watch's hyper-sage Michael Tanji has written a nigh poetic and not-to-be-missed reflection on the NIE circus.