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 Political

Published

 July 2007

Synopsis

 Another "Exciting" National Intelligence Estimate

The President’s New Book: My Pet NIE

By Al Owens
It’s the day we’ve all been waiting for. It’s National Intelligence Estimate Day across the good ole U.S. of A.!

I couldn’t sleep last night with all of my nervous anticipation. It felt like countless Christmas Eve’s when I’d thought my father finally saw the light and slipped a pony under (or near) our Christmas trees.

The NIE (not to be confused with Newspapers in Education) will set off dozens of hours of meaningless cable TV debates with

If you’re not a National Intelligence Estimate aficionado, it’s your own fault. Why the President of the United States thinks they’re more fun to read than My Pet Goat. Especially since 16 federal security agencies get together and offer the kinds assessments that send shockwaves across the whole 24 hour news cycle.

The F.B.I. and the C.I.A. are the most familiar agencies to contribute to these estimates. They, along with the Department of Defense, and all of the branches of the military make up the group that writes them – The National Intelligence Council.

That all sounds rather simple, but I’m wondering what the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency has to do with these documents. Not only that, I wonder what the heck the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is. I’ve never heard of it, but I’m sure it’s doing a fine job.

After the National Intelligence Council releases these NIE’s, to the president and then they all decide what’s the best (and probably scariest) stuff to release to the public.
After that, the president recites those parts over and over again in speeches for those of us too sane (I guess I’m not in that category) not to have read them online.

Now, to the just released National Intelligence Estimate. It’s a doozey. They’re claiming that there are terror groups forming everywhere – like angry little packs of Cub Scouts at summer camp without their marshmallows.

This NIE claims that al-Qaeda has “reconstituted” itself (like grape fruit juice, I think) and could be heading to a shopping center near you.
Of course that NIE the was released last September claimed that al-Qaeda had taken its hits, but was beginning to grow as a result of the war in Iraq.

The Bush administration doesn’t seem to be good at many things. Being a recruitment tool for aspiring global Jihadists may just be one of those things.

These freshly released security documents always seem to read differently for different people. (If different people mean Republicans and Democrats) They immediately become the central front in the war on political civility.

Last September, for instance, Ohio’s frequently blustering Republican congressman, John Boehner (he’s the guy who recently called his fellow Republicans “wimps” for voicing their concerns about the current Bush plan in Iraq) gave a blanket approval of that newly released NIE - especially the parts that supported the Republicans and their president.

Meanwhile, Democrats looked at that NIE quite differently back then. "The intelligence community -- all 16 agencies -- believes the war in Iraq has fueled terrorism," claimed Democrat Jay Rockefeller.

That’s what makes the release of the National Intelligence Estimates so much fun. Everybody can find something that will make people from the other political party appear uninformed about the supposed realities within NIE’S.

I can remember one of them that should be used as wallpaper all over Washington.

In October 2002, there was one that stated with “high confidence,” that: “Iraq is continuing, and in some areas expanding its chemical, biological, nuclear, and missile programs contrary
to UN resolutions.” Of course, that’s the one George W. Bush and Dick Cheney used as solid proof that Saddam Hussein may have been plotting to turn Montana into a parking lot.

Before you run off thinking I’m bringing up ancient history - that was the same NIE that contained the “key judgments” that: “A foreign government service reported that as of early 2001, Niger planned to send several tons of ‘pure uranium’ (probably yellowcake) to Iraq.”

Oops! That was a nice pre-war campaign slogan for our gun-slingin’ president. But it simply wasn’t true! Ambassador Joe Wilson would later prove it wasn’t true; he wrote a newspaper article that indicated it wasn’t true; his wife (Valerie Plame) had her C.I.A. cover blown by somebody in the White House; that led to the prosecution and eventual conviction of Lewis “Scooter” Libby who had his prison sentence commuted by the president a couple of weeks ago. So ancient history that yellowcake thing is not.

So, while I’m excitedly memorizing key passages from the “key judgments” of the current NIE, I should remember – it could make some mighty good wallpaper in a few months!