My problem with the NIE Awareness Story


If you’ve been following the news in the past few days, you’ll find multiple stories about the release of the new National Intelligence Estimate. Contrary to claims in the past, this NIE states that Iran is no longer seeking to acquire nuclear weapons and hasn’t been since 2003.

While the report has many important (and debatable) implications as to the future of US policy, I’ve taken personal offense to the White House’s claim that Bush knew of changed intelligence in August, but not  the specifics of that change until last week.

To me, this claim requires a tremendous leap of faith to believe, because it necessitates the following script sometime last August:

McConnel: Mr. President?
Bush: Yes?
M: I just wanted to let you know, we have some new intelligence.
B: Well that’s good to hear.
M: It’s got some big implications though, so we’re going to fact check it before we release it to the public.
B: Ok.
<awkward pause>
M: Ok.
<M exits>

Perhaps I’m being biased, but wouldn’t one be inclined to ask “Well what’s so important about this shift in intelligence?” or perhaps to ask for the gist of the change in 10 seconds or less? And additionally, is McConnel’s job really so steeped in bureaucracy that he has to inform the president whenever he receives new information? How would he ever get anything done?

Again, debating the policy decisions to be made from the new NIE is a separate and valid issue, but expecting me to believe that the president gets updates with any degree of regularity that are limited in content to AOL’s You’ve Got Mail sound is something I’m going to have trouble believing.

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