Mar 7, 2008

Iffy Stiffy - Pending NIE Iraq

To fathom a guess: an NIE of this sort will be more of an analytical document than a summary of secret intel. Any real secrets - particularly substantive references to sources and methods - will always be redacted. Given the history of leaks around these products, expect to see a preempting public version. Anything else could be construed as somewhat crackbrained.

Hacked excerpts from today's WaPo:

A new National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq is scheduled to be completed this month, according to U.S. intelligence officials. But leaders of the intelligence community have not decided whether to make its key judgments public.

The classified estimate on Iraq is intended as an update of last summer's assessment, which predicted modest security improvements but an increasingly precarious political situation. It is meant to be delivered to Congress before testimony in early April by Army Gen. David H. Petraeus. In his letter to [Senator R-Va.] Warner, [Director of National Intelligence] McConnell said that separate estimates are also being prepared on the "terrorist threat to the homeland" -- focusing on al-Qaeda and Pakistan -- and on "the tactical and longer-term security and political outlook for Afghanistan." Both are scheduled for publication by early fall.

Intelligence officials said that the National Intelligence Board -- made up of the heads of the 16 intelligence agencies plus McConnell -- will decide whether to release the Iraq judgments once the estimate is completed. But they made clear that they lean toward a return to the traditional practice of keeping such documents secret.

In internal guidance he issued in October, McConnell said that his policy was that they "should not be declassified." One month later, however, the intelligence board decided to publicly release key judgments from an NIE on Iran's nuclear weapons program, saying that it had weighed "the importance of the information to open discussions about our national security against the necessity to protect classified information."

"Overall, professional life is less complicated if nothing becomes public, and one doesn't have to organize classified assessments always having in the back of one's mind, 'If this is ever leaked, how would it read' " in the news media, a former intelligence analyst said.


Anonymous said...

How long till this gets leaked, do you think?

Meatball One said...

We do very badly when guessing - even worse when betting. But I do think we could fathom a solid guess as to some of its conclusions, though they'd be little different than some of the surge-clastic comments we've already made here. But a guess nonetheless? Easily before the end of next week.

Btw, I just finished off the giant box of Sprungli's Luxemburgerlis I picked up last week on Bahnhofstrasse. They look tastier than they are, non?