So say our vaunted intelligence services. I haven't commented yet on the recent revelations from the National Intelligence Estimate because I wanted to read and process the information. Despite characterizations by Democrats, it seems to me that the NIE says more about the incompetency of our intelligence services than it does about President Bush.
Twice now, President Bush's public assertions about threats of weapons of mass destructionâ€”his prewar warnings of weaponry in Iraq and his warnings about the development of nuclear weapons in Iranâ€”have been undermined by subsequent intelligence reports.
But the warnings themselves were based on intelligence reports generated by the same idiots who later issued the reports that undermined the president. It's not like President Bush has any sort of first-hand knowledge about Middle Eastern WMDs, he relies on America's intelligence agencies. If the new report undermines the previous one, that's not his fault -- except insofar as President Bush has been unable or unwilling to really reform our pathetic intelligence services.
Among the questions facing the president is at what point he knew the intelligence community was beginning to change its mind on Iran. Bush saw the new report on Iran for the first time last week, he said Tuesday, though Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell had advised him in August that a revised assessment was coming.
Or, maybe it can take a few months to verify important information. Before the President stands up in front of the American people and changes our stance towards our enemy, it would be nice to spend some time being sure.
As it is, I do not have "high confidence" in the accuracy of the new NIE. I sincerely hope it's right and that Iran isn't developing nuclear weapons, because at this point it seems clear that President Bush will punt the Iranian problem to his successor. If the NIE is right, it's very good news for America and for the world, so let's take a little time to appreciate that.