Guesswork: what's behind the NIE change

AT symposium
What caused the NIE to reverse its conclusions on Iran's nuclear program? Speculation abounds.

AT contributor Greg Richards writes:

I find the NIE process very very flawed, then the question arises as to what could have happened, what new information was obtained by the intelligence community that (a) led it to change its mind and (b) led it to change its mind now.  It is always possible that there is some new technical gizmo of which we, the public, are unaware as very likely we should be.  But let’s assume that is not the case.  What else could have happened?
 

Here is a guess.  General Petraeus appears to have brought defeat underfoot in Iraq.  Just last week, the White House announced it was negotiating with Iraq for a long term security agreementSo, the period of “maximum dynamic pressure” (as NASA might put it) on the U.S. in Iraq may have passed.  And Saddam Hussein demonstrated that bluffing about having nuclear weapons was not a winning strategy.
 

So, perhaps Iran put together an operation whereby they have offered irrefutable proof – maybe including a visit to the country by one or more of our experts – of the inertness of their nuclear program.  This allows them to continue to posture in public while defusing a developing crisis with the U.S. by backchannel.  Sort of the way the Cuban Missile Crisis was resolved.

Meanwhile, at TIME Magazine (hat tip: Richard Baehr), Robert Baer thinks that Bush himself ordered the intelligence establishment to come to these conclusions, because he has decided not to take on Iran and wants an excuse. This would of course presume that the intelligence establishment cares what he wants, a message that Vaerie Plame certainly never received.
...there is also no doubt that the Bush White House was behind this NIE. While the 16 intelligence agencies that make up the "intelligence community" contribute to each National Intelligence Estimate, you can bet that an explosive, 180-degree turn on Iran like this one was greenlighted by the President.

And explode is what the hawks in and outside the Administration are about to do. They were counting on Bush being the one President prepared to take on Iran. As recently as last month, Bush warned of World War III if Iran so much as thought about building a bomb. Bush's betrayal is not going to go down well. The neocons, clinging to a sliver of hope, will accuse the intelligence community of incompetence, pointing out that as late as 2005 it estimated "with high confidence" that Iran was building a bomb.


What caused the NIE to reverse its conclusions on Iran's nuclear program? Speculation abounds.

AT contributor Greg Richards writes:

I find the NIE process very very flawed, then the question arises as to what could have happened, what new information was obtained by the intelligence community that (a) led it to change its mind and (b) led it to change its mind now.  It is always possible that there is some new technical gizmo of which we, the public, are unaware as very likely we should be.  But let’s assume that is not the case.  What else could have happened?
 

Here is a guess.  General Petraeus appears to have brought defeat underfoot in Iraq.  Just last week, the White House announced it was negotiating with Iraq for a long term security agreementSo, the period of “maximum dynamic pressure” (as NASA might put it) on the U.S. in Iraq may have passed.  And Saddam Hussein demonstrated that bluffing about having nuclear weapons was not a winning strategy.
 

So, perhaps Iran put together an operation whereby they have offered irrefutable proof – maybe including a visit to the country by one or more of our experts – of the inertness of their nuclear program.  This allows them to continue to posture in public while defusing a developing crisis with the U.S. by backchannel.  Sort of the way the Cuban Missile Crisis was resolved.

Meanwhile, at TIME Magazine (hat tip: Richard Baehr), Robert Baer thinks that Bush himself ordered the intelligence establishment to come to these conclusions, because he has decided not to take on Iran and wants an excuse. This would of course presume that the intelligence establishment cares what he wants, a message that Vaerie Plame certainly never received.
...there is also no doubt that the Bush White House was behind this NIE. While the 16 intelligence agencies that make up the "intelligence community" contribute to each National Intelligence Estimate, you can bet that an explosive, 180-degree turn on Iran like this one was greenlighted by the President.

And explode is what the hawks in and outside the Administration are about to do. They were counting on Bush being the one President prepared to take on Iran. As recently as last month, Bush warned of World War III if Iran so much as thought about building a bomb. Bush's betrayal is not going to go down well. The neocons, clinging to a sliver of hope, will accuse the intelligence community of incompetence, pointing out that as late as 2005 it estimated "with high confidence" that Iran was building a bomb.