Iran hawks' wings clipped?
"We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear program."
Well, that's about as definitive as it gets. The new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran, the consensus assessment of the U.S. government's dozen-plus intelligence agencies, says Iran's nuke program is on hold, has been for four years, and if resumed, couldn't come up with a weapon until at least 2010, more likely 2015.
Readers particularly tuned in to national security matters might recall this is information that was never supposed to come out in the first place. While previous NIEs were released publicly, with redactions for classified information, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell said last month this one would remain hush-hush.
Furthermore, the completion of this report was held up for the better part of a year because the consensus wasn't anywhere near hawkish enough for Dick Cheney's satisfaction.
Does alll this mean mean McConnell himself, the man who oversees all those dozen-plus intelligence agencies, is trying to throw a monkey wrench into Dick Cheney's Iran war plans? There's no way of knowing. And in a sense, it doesn't really matter. War with Iran, if it comes, is most likely to come about by accident.