The latest National Intelligence Estimate on Iran was the final factor in a military equation that now appears to guarantee that there will be no war with Iran during the Bush Administration. It meshes with the views of the operational types at the Pentagon, who have steadfastly resisted the march to war led by some Administration hawks. The anti-war group was composed of Defense Secretary Robert Gates; Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs; and Admiral William Fallon, who oversees the U.S. forces that would have had to wage that war. In recent months, all have pushed back privately and publicly, on the wisdom of going to war with Tehran. Indeed, the Pentagon's intelligence units were instrumental in forming the NIE's conclusions.
The U.S. military contributes nine of the 16 intelligence agencies whose views are cobbled together in NIEs: the Counterintelligence Field Activity, the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency, Army Intelligence, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, the National Security Agency, and the Office of Naval Intelligence. Some critics have suggested that the military simply found a public way to quiet the drumbeat for war coming from Vice President Dick Cheney and his shrinking band of allies in the Administration. [...]
Some Pentagon officials welcomed the new NIE as evidence that the intelligence community is not tied to ideology, as some critics argued was true during the buildup to the Iraq war in 2003.
Still, Pentagon officials made it clear that this was not a political move by the brass -- that the military's lack of desire for another conflict and the conclusions of the new NIE are coincidental. They stress that the military focuses on "intentions, not capabilities" when assessing threats, and that the final unclassified portion of the NIE warns that the intelligence community believes "with high confidence that Iran has the scientific, technical and industrial capacity eventually to produce nuclear weapons if it decides to do so."
There is still much more work to be done with respect to reigning in Ahmadinejad, but we no longer have to worry -- for the immediate time being at least -- about the neocon agenda driving us into war with Iran.
Nonetheless, significant questions remain over the credibility of the White House following the release of the NIE report - namely what they knew and when they knew it. We already know that Bush was aware of the NIE conclusions back in mid-October when he rattled his sabre, invoking the words "World War 3" with respect to Iran.
Related: NPR has an excellent Iran nuclear timeline. It's obvious from the timelines that the administration has been managing information flow on the NIE report - and we will be able to look at the results the next time Exxon releases a profit statement.
Billions have been made over the inflated price of oil brought on by this fake "crisis." For shame, Republicans, for shame.
Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!