Question of the day: why did Bush allow the NIE to be released?

Up until today, Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence, had strongly insisted that the NIE’s major findings on the alleged Iran nuclear program would not be released.  Now, suddenly, and without warning, those very findings — and ones strongly contradictory to Bush Administration policy — have, in fact, been released. 

(NY Times) U.S. Says Iran Halted Its Nuclear Arms Effort in 2003

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3 — A new assessment by American intelligence agencies released Monday concludes that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that the program remains frozen, contradicting a judgment two years ago that Tehran was working relentlessly toward building a nuclear bomb.

The conclusions of the new assessment are likely to reshape the final year of the Bush administration, which has made halting Iran’s nuclear program a cornerstone of its foreign policy.

The assessment, a National Intelligence Estimate that represents the consensus view of all 16 American spy agencies, states that Tehran is likely to keep its options open with respect to building a weapon, but that intelligence agencies “do not know whether it currently intends to develop nuclear weapons.”

So what’s going on here?  Why would Bush & Co. suddenly develop this uncharacteristic case of openness?  Kevin Drum has a couple posts up speculating on the issue, here and here.  But as Drum himself admits, his suggestions are less than entirely satisfying.

Here’s my best guess: facing open revolt from the Joint Chiefs of Staff against any offensive military move against Iran (because the military is already stretched to the breaking point), Bush found himself in a pickle.  For months he’s been pushing the Iran bogeyman.  How could he back out now?  The NIE was his ticket out.

So what do you think?

35 Responses to “Question of the day: why did Bush allow the NIE to be released?”

  1. MaryATo Says:

    Has anyone considered the possibility that with so many “loyal Bushies” gone and the bench team now brought in to run out the clock on the Bush administration, Condoleeza Rice may have finally pushed a less bellicose perspective on the President? Perhaps she is concerned about her own legacy and wants to avoid the possibility of a 100% FUBAR presidency (instead of the current 90%). Condi was originally a Russia expert, and pushing Russia into a possible alliance with Iran would be truly scary (Russia still has lots of nukes somewhere). China might also join in on their side. We avoided wars in the Middle East for many years (the years of Condi’s political education) because of fear of the Soviets, by the way. Finally, Pakistan is now scaring everyone and we just can’t risk becoming too busy in Iran to be able to deal with Pakistan effectively.

  2. PatriotM Says:

    Let’s look at the economic influences involved, and who has a stake in Iranian oil first, with the Busheviks its always about getting the oil first.
    Uh-oh! Putin is re-elected and says he’ll kick the butt of anyone invading Iran, after all Russia has oil deals with Iran.
    China, who holds the biggest slice of US debt AND has Iranian oil interests, turns away US Naval forces as a little reminder to Jr. to watch his step. Wanna bet a Chinese diplomat made it clear the US better back down?
    Even Chavez, who didn’t get a lifetime employment guarantee, still had the people behind him when it came to cutting off oil to the US.
    Finally, someone was getting ready to leak the truth and the “Administration” had to beat them to the punch or have it look even worse than it does. He wouldn’t care about rebellion behind the scenes, it would just mean more people retiring to “have more family time”.
    Their House of Lies is falling in on them and these cockroaches are running for cover. Emperor, you have no clothes!

  3. Larkrise Says:

    The simplest explanation is often the most accurate. Your explanation, Steve, sounds quite logical. I hope it is correct, because I really like the idea of the Joint Chiefs of Staff openly revolting against Dimwitted Dubya and Darth Dick:)

  4. Again Says:

    facing open revolt from the Joint Chiefs of Staff against any offensive military move against Iran (because the military is already stretched to the breaking point), Bush found himself in a pickle. For months he’s been pushing the Iran bogeyman. How could he back out now? The NIE was his ticket out.

    this would mean that Bush would be able to realize a pickle? Sorry, have my doubts about that

    OTH - i guess, there was never any other president before in a such a huge pickle. The rats are leaving the sinking ship, the dollar is nose-diving (Nine Ways to Profit From the Diving Dollar - and With no way to prop it up, the U.S. dollar needs some PR - the only ones profiting from that? The American Global Players not caring about America, but actually, this reminds me much of Theoderic, Rome and her foreign mercenaries) and even the military rejects the Emperator?

    Not even two terms of office to stop a Superpower? Wow, Bush should be called “The Great”

  5. SpiderWoman666 Says:

    There’s a simple answer to this question. As far as the public is concerned, the Bush administration does not care. It makes no difference to them. There are enough words used in the NIE to be able to pick and choose as they see fit, and that’s precisely what they’ll do.

    So, they have calmed the members of the military who might challenge them, but the general public is only going to know what the Bush administration puts out for them through their network of deceit, the Limbaughs, Savages, Coulters, and such.

    The only thing that’s happened here is the Bush admin’s even more open demonstration of its belief that the American people are idiots.

  6. realista Says:

    I think the NIE is heaven-sent:

    So now as I’m leavin’
    I’m weary as Hell
    The confusion I’m feelin’
    Ain’t no tongue can tell
    The words fill my head
    And fall to the floor
    If God is on our side
    He’ll stop the next war.

  7. KathyP Says:

    What about oil prices? They’ve been going up drastically because of concern about Bush bombing Iran. Is the release of the NIE a way to quell these concerns and thus to provide a brief respite from elevated oil prices, especially in light of the recession the US economy is entering? Whaddayathink?

  8. SpiderWoman666 Says:

    There’s no mystery here. The Bush administration knows that the public pays no attention to this sort of information. So, they appease the people who might stand against them by letting the information out. It won’t affect the drive to war with Iran.

    The Bush admin’s method of getting the word out - the word that they want the general public to believe - is via the network of Coulter-Limbaugh-Savage, and so forth, and the trusty corporate-owned media, which will continue to push the Bush line on everything, including the false idea that Iran poses any threat.

  9. joe Says:

    iran has never tried to develop nukes! this NIE (if believed) give credence to bush/cheney when they say iran wants nukes. not that iran doesn’t want nukes but they have a legal, moral right to have nuclear energy. this NIE is just another lie and manipulation by bush/cheney. here is Rove’s quote(the aide here is Rove);
    The aide said that guys like me were ‘’in what we call the reality-based community.”… I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ‘’That’s not the way the world really works anymore,'’ he continued. ‘’We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.’
    – Ron Suskind talking to senior Bush advisor, The New York Times Magazine

  10. cscheid Says:

    This president has always been about how rough and ready he is to stand up to anyone and anything. Now the writing is on the wall that he can’t attack Iran without having to ask congress’s permission. He can’t let that it be seen that he had to ask for anything, so if the NIE says that Iran is no threat, there is no need for attack. If he had another year to his term he would have attacked them.

  11. rrrru4ril Says:

    Personally, I think the Iran bogeyman was a ploy to help rally the base for the midterm elections in November. As it has become more and more apparent that Iran is not an imminent threat, at least not in the way that the Bush Administration was presenting it to be, they released the information, partly because it didn’t really help them in the midterms and it was going to come out anyway at some point in the near future via a different channel. They were hoping to get ahead of the curve hence the declaration that they were right all the time by Steven Hadley. I am sure Karl Rove is working his magic as well to rewrite history. This group assumes that history can be rewritten so in a few months, no one of importance will remember this lie including of course the main stream media. They had to get this behind them before the Presidential Elections.

  12. ajweishar Says:

    They found out about the Russian and Chinese military technology that Iran has. The fleet in the Persian Gulf would have been sitting ducks for mobile missiles. Russian anti aircraft weapons guard the Iranian border. And finally, two million Iranian soldier would move into Iraq to wipe out our 150,000. We have no more capability to extend our military because of the Iraq war.

  13. libdem Says:

    I think the Bush administration purposely let out the NIE report which they said in the past that they would never do. I think they want to get out of their plan to attack Iran and instead start moving toward attacking Pakistan or Afghanistan. Also they do anything to get us to think about any other issue besides Iraq where their foreign policy has been horrible.

  14. musing Says:

    See, kicking butt in Iraq really worked. It stopped the Iranian nuclear weapons programme in its tracks. Of course now that there is no programme, we don’t have to produce a shred of evidence that there ever was a programme. But you now know the Iranians can’t be trusted.
    Read my lips… “fool me once…”.
    Is there any evidence that this really is the NIE report or did the label get switched!

  15. CyberChas Says:

    He’s spinning it to say that this PROVES that Iran is a threat because they lied about a past program. Gee, I wonder what the statute of limitations on that is? Bush has been lying for three months since he found out about the NIE and continued to use terms like “World War III” as if it was immenent.

    Because Iran MIGHT some day start up a weapons program with enriched uranium, we must stop them from ever having enriched uranium? Ahhhh, we have created a whole new level of control for the anti nuclear proliferation programs — it’s not about nuclear weapons programs any more, it’s about enriched uranium.

    If you don’t like how the game is rolling, just change the rules. How every Rethuglican.

  16. bansidh Says:

    I don’t think oil prices had much to do with it. The people getting the money for the oil are the same ones pushing the wars. They want the prices high; record profits. There are so many good guesses among the other comments that I have to say I am very impressed with the knowledge and analysis of the writers

  17. Dee Says:

    I would not even venture to guess what goes on in the head of that moronic son of a bitch.

  18. vman69 Says:

    The recently released NIE report has been in the possession of the Bush Administration for months and months. The release of this report has been blocked by VP Cheney. It’s release indicating Iran halted its nuclear program back in 2003 condemns the Bush Administration to being guilty as Domestic Terrorist according to the US Patriot Act. It is iilegal to intentionally manipulate and coerice the psyche of the people or government. It is by law Domestic Terrorism.

    US Patriot ACT


    (a) DOMESTIC TERRORISM DEFINED- Section 2331 of title 18, United States Code, is amended–

    (1) in paragraph (1)(B)(iii), by striking `by assassination or kidnapping’ and inserting `by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping’;

    (2) in paragraph (3), by striking `and’;

    (3) in paragraph (4), by striking the period at the end and inserting `; and’; and

    (4) by adding at the end the following:

    `(5) the term `domestic terrorism’ means activities that–

    `(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;

    `(B) appear to be intended–

    `(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;

    `(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or

    The public statements of fear mongering and scare tactics used by the Presidant and Vice Presidant are in direct opposition to what they knew in advance was the NIE determination regarding the suspension of Irans nuclear programs years ago. The mushroom clouds, the threat of world war three and other statements were made to manipulate ‘intimidate and coerice the US civilian popultaion, and to influence the policy of government by intimidation and coercion.’

    The Presidant and VP have repeatedly stressed an implied threat of imminent danger from Iran’s nuclear weapons program, which we now know has not existed since 2003. They have been in reciept of this information and willingly and knowingly subverted and misrepresented the Iraniam threat intentionally.

    They are guilty by definition of Domestic Terrorism and should be impeached poste haste.

  19. alwayshope Says:

    I’m with you.

    All I know for sure is that whatever they are thinking, it will profit them, protect their asses or confuse the issue. It’s always about them and their interests alone. That’s why it’s hard for us to interpret their words. We need to hear them in the right context: “whatever is good for them is good for the world”.

  20. SkeeterVT Says:

    You can thank Gareth Porter of the Inter-Press Service for forcing the NIE report on Iran to be released. In a scathing expose that I posted November 12 on my blog, “The ‘Skeeter Bites Report,” Porter revealed that release of the report had been held up for more than a year because members of the U.S. intelligence community balked at going along with Vice President Dick Cheney’s insistence that Iran was going ahead with a nuclear weapons development program. The intelligence experts stood up to the vice president, adamantly insisting that there was no proof that Iran’s nuclear program was for anything other than for developing electricity from nuclear power plants. The release of the new NIE report in its present form is , therefore, a massive rebuke to Cheney.

    You can read the full story here.

  21. ccokz Says:

    What befuddles me most is that Iran has just achieved the ability to build nuclear weapons, at least according to its own statements.


    So what do we got here? Bush non-admitting he attacked the wrong country for weapons of mass destruction. Powells Biohazard speech at the UN was total fraud.

    Is the Bush approach towards Iran more systematic?

    The obstruction of Iran-wmd-prosecutor Plame was systematic.



    Furthermore, Gibsons slaughter of good CIA habbits concerning Plame was disastrous.


    What for?Poppy Bush himself released tufer CIA laws.

    As a summary, I wont be surprised if Iraq is struck by a nuke in september during a hot election campaign.

    The calls for a strong leader will be loud from the right.

  22. ccokz Says:

    Iranian nukes

  23. Drew Says:

    Does it even matter why they released the Report? You can be certain it’s part of their never-ending Machavellian joust to political primacy, something to further position, re-position and re-re-position themselves with their base. For th Bush clan, it’s ALLLLLL politics. There’s never any other reason to do anything.

  24. deepseas Says:

    PatriotM is on to something. The pressure is on: Russia is standing firm, China is looking BushCo dead in the eye, threats of impeachment and charges of treason from the peanut gallery at home, Congress is probably hollering “war with Iran won’t fly this time!”, and Ahmadinejad’s right hand man is saying “bring it on! This will hurt the U.S. just like it will hurt us.” A war with Iran would devastate the U.S.

    I really think this is it for BushCo. Consider that Cheney recently went to the hospital and looks gaunt these days. I seriously believe he knows it is over for them and their run on the world. The elites are probably telling them “enough is enough. No need to get greedy…” Mainstream media seems to be turning on them and inklings of the truth finally going down the street. Word on the street is that Bush is a madman…

    However, the domestic war on terror has only just begun. BushCo has sewn up the laws in his favor for any protesting from Americans over the economy.

    When will the nightmare end…

  25. nRkiSt Says:

    See Juan Coles excellent piece - ” Did an Iranian Spy Clear Tehran of Nuclear Ambitions?”

  26. Larkrise Says:

    SkeeterVT, thanks for the info. “A massive rebuke to Cheney” If ever any man on earth (besides Bush) deserves a massive rebuke, it is Dick Cheney. I agree that they knew the report could no longer be contained, and realized they had to let it out, then spin it for all it is worth. Hence, Bush’s idiotic press conference. It was ever so lovely to see the ass-kissing Washington press corps go for blood for once. They may actually be growing some real kahunas. Time will tell. As for Bush: “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive…..” Let him dangle in his own web,looking like the true fool that he is.

  27. RazorPol Says:

    This is my first time here…the commentary is intelligent and extremely insightful. The disdain this administration has for the American people goes beyond anything I have ever seen in my 64 years. With this latest spin on the NIE, BushCheney must think we’re dumber than dog poop. We’ve seen our young men and women sent off to be killed for nothing; our Constitution shredded and our reputation in the world reduced from a Country that has generally taken the moral high ground to that of rogue nation.

    And I constantly ask myself, “How did this happen?” How did one administration take us down this dark path so quickly, and with such dreadful consequences for the future?” Was someone asleep at the switch? The Congress? The Courts? Us? The only conclusion that I can come with is that the sheer brillance of this administration’s propaganda machine has no rivals…not even Nazi Germany. They have used every tool and dirty trick in the book and backed their play with astonishing chutzpa and clever lawyering. Having a network masquerading as a legitimate news channel helped immensely, of course. But still, how have they gotten away with it?

    At first, I supported Pelosi’s decision to take impeachment off the table. Now I think that decision will go down in History as the single biggest mistake of the Democratic leadership in this Congress. Everyday we become aware of more lies, more carefully planned strategic deceipt, but now it’s too late to bring impeachment charges without risking losing the White House in 2008.

    It seems they have been able to outsmart us at every turn. It’s really depressing. Yeah, we might take back the WH in 2008, but I’m afraid the problems inherited by the new administration will be so severe, that the new president will be a one term president only.

    A new poll showed that 80% of the Republicans in Iowa support Bush and feel that he is doing a good job. How any intelligent person could think like this blows me away. It is that kind of head-in-the-sand thinking and absolute denial of the truth that made Nazi Germany possible. I’m not suggesting that this administration can be compared to the Nazi’s, but there is no doubt in my mind that there are an awful lot of folks in our Country that are not paying attention. Part of the problem is that many republicans only watch Fox News, so they don’t get the truth and don’t seem to care.

    Keep up the great comments everyone…I’m glad I found this site…sorry I was on such a rant. Guess I had to vent…and I did it here.

  28. RazorPol Says:

    If anyone has links to other like minded blogs, please post some of them if it isn’t against the rules to do so.


  29. gailzy Says:

    This is the letter I wrote to the SF Chronicle, which of course, they did not print.

    Dear Editor:

    Listening to George W. Bush state at his Tuesday press conference that he was not informed of the NIE report (which stated that Iran had discontinued plans to build an Atomic bomb in 2003) until little more than a week ago, my shock was palpable. Is the man lying - again - or did he make the inadvertent and unbelievable admission that he is, indeed, only a puppet. Either surmise is horrifying; He is either a lying sociopath or apparently is being run by hidden elements of our own government. These are impeachable offenses.

    And by Nancy Pelosi taking impeachment off the table, she has given him or these elements in our own government the “go” sign for these criminal acts to continue this path which is destroying our country and may ultimately destroy the entire world.

    I also entertained your hypothesis, but didn’t state it because it is almost inconceivable that Mr. Bush’s first response on hearing this would not be to immediately call his cabinet and advisors together and really talk about this. Of course, this administration is so secretive, we never know what they’re doing or saying, anyway. I actually hope that the military is pushing this - at this point in time, they are the only ones that can stop this insanity. What is really crazy-making for me (among a lot of other stuff) is that under this administration, I find that I am defending CIA operatives (Plame) and defending military brass which I am almost always antagonistic to.

  30. alwayshope Says:

    Welcome RazorPol!
    Get comfortable, have a drink, I’ll buy.
    If it gets late, watch out for Chuck, he hogs the blanket.

  31. alwayshope Says:

    Since you’re new, I wanted to mention the episodes.
    You should read the episodes. There are 76 of them so it will take awhile because they make you think, and laugh and cry. Really worth your time. Enjoy.

  32. RazorPol Says:


    I didn’t know where to start in the episodes, so I scrolled to the bottom and started with #70. When I’ve stopped crying I will tackle #69, but that won’t be until tomorrow. I did two tours in Vietnam…

  33. alwayshope Says:

    I know what you mean, RazorPol. The episodes are pretty powerful.

    Also, I am 57 and Vietnam is still painful today.
    To think those criminals started this war for oil and for the power a “war president” could grab! They never knew the horrors of war nor can they care about the suffering of others. ” The evil men do lives after them” and hundreds of thousands of people will carry the scars of this immoral occupation throughout their lives. I have a friend who wrote a poem about buddies he lost in Vietnam. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind if I shared it with you.

    The Truth
    Dedicated to John Gertch, KIA 7/69 and Charlie Pyle, KIA 3/68

    Eighteen, nineteen, twenty, twenty-one
    Those youthful years are now long gone.

    It was the average age of the friends I knew
    Too many of them whose lives are through.

    I knew each one by their first names.
    They came from the city, country, mountains and plains.

    We ate together, slept together, laughed and fought
    And to let others down was never a thought.

    We were young and brave but so very naive.
    So many of our families would soon have to grieve.

    We wore the Screaming Eagle and solemnly swore.
    To uphold its fame for those who wore it before.

    That eagle fought in places so hard to say,
    Hai Lang, Dak To, The Ashua, and Hue.

    He got wounded, scarred, bruised and battered,
    But he kicked Charlie’s butt, that’s all that mattered.

    Now I’m fifty years old and I see the sad truth
    Our dreams of glory were the end of our youth.

    _ Dwight Lane
    1/501, Rocon-1/327, Tiger Force

  34. RazorPol Says:

    Thank you, AlwaysHope…

    Many of us saw this coming before it started. The steady stream of harsh and negative rhetoric from the WH and their sycophantic water carriers towards the UN inspectors in Iraq was relentless. It was obvious this administration could not let them finish their work because their report would state what Bush/Cheney/Rumsfield already knew…that there were no WMD’s. But they wanted their war; they wanted Iraq’s oil and they wanted to use that oil to rebuild Iraq with no bid contracts for their friends. How much money did Halburton steal? It wasn’t enough that they got the contracts, they had to steal even more money on top of it.

    So before the inspectors could finish, Bush&Co rushed us into war, under trained, under equipped and with only about 20% of the troops needed to win. In my opinion we could not have won this illegal and immoral war had we sent 500,000 troups! And Rumsfield’s audacity to tell our troops (after a soldier had told him that they have to send search parties out to find scrap metal to secure their vehicles), that “…you go to war with the army you have.” That’s true if you are attacked, but if you do the attacking, you bloody well better have the army you need before you begin.

    All the pain of Vietnam comes back to haunt me in spades when I see so many returning young men and women all chewed up… trying to put their shattered lives back together. And so many were attacked in vehicles that couldn’t protect them properly. All because Bush&Co had to rush into war and attack Iraq before the inspectors could finish their job. They sent so many to die for THEM, not our Country. And the millions of displaced and dead innocent Iraqis… All this blood is on their hands.

    This war hurts more than Vietnam. In some ways you could make a bit of a case for Vietnam, but this war…never. It has been about greed and power, and greed and power only. The loss of life and blood…this waste hurts me most. But the loss of treasure also. A respected group of economists announced a few days ago that the true cost of this war will run upwards of $3.7 trillion. And this admin put it all on a tab…a tab for future generations of Americans to pay. They’ve broken the back of the greatest military in the world…a civilian Rumsfeld and the two draft dodging cowards, Bush and Cheney. Bush&Co are guilty of war crimes and our weakened, emasculated Congress won’t even consider impeachment. These criminals are going to get away with this…it’s just heartbreaking.

  35. alwayshope Says:

    Well said, RazorPol.
    This war hurts more. It is with us and the lies are with us everyday. It’s so hard to fight the good fight against the ruthless, callous, cowardly and greedy asses that control the message and the lives and care of our troops and wounded. The blood on their hands………………….yes, it’s just heartbreaking.

    Hey, post a little on the current pages , I’d love to hear more from you!

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