Friday, December 07, 2007

How the Sausage is Made

Intel Insider: Iran Report Ain't Political - Noah Shachtman, The Danger Room

This report on how the National Intelligence Estimate is constructed is a little disturbing but the more pressing matter of the current NIE is that it seems its writers are attempting to hedge their bets. A new report that goes against the Bush administration's claims in this day and age is a startling thing. But to have one that has the potential to pull us back from the brink of a war with Iran is promising, even if the report might have its flaws. I've come to take an NIE with a grain of salt. If the evidence points to a clear conclusion then fine, but if it is a constant stream of 'possibles' then I'm less sure that we should base our foreign policy around such a document. I can understand the intelligence agencies wanting to cover all their bases. Extracting meaning from masses of information is difficult to do and when you're under deadlines and bureaucratic pressures it only increases those difficulties. So, this NIE and previous ones I will now count on only to give a general idea of things rather than a clear idea of how the U.S. and it's allies should proceed. Iran may still have a nuclear weapon program waiting in the wings but if international pressure can continue to keep it there then that is the best way to go. But escalating the rhetoric against the Iran is not the solution at this point. Some needs to pull President Bush aside and explain that to him. Of course, this won't happen, but one can hope.

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