IC agents threatened to release the NIE if Bush refused to do it? Updated WSJ weighs in

I think my outrage meter just broke. I’m not sure it can be fixed. Since when do people on the left think this is a good thing?

“intelligence career seniors were lined up to go to jail if necessary” if the document’s gist were not given to the public. Translation? Someone in that group would have gone to the media “on the record” to disclose its contents.

So once they had produced the 2007 NIE that a) contradicted the 2005 NIE and b) would probably take the wind out of any effort to keep up the pressure on Iran (which, even according to the 2007 NIE did have a clandestine nuclear weapons program, albeit one that might be on hold), the unelected intelligence officers who produced it were prepared to force it into the public if the president himself didn’t release it. They held a sword to the elected president: Release this sensitive and probably problematic and possibly inaccurate document, or we’ll release it even though doing so is illegal.

To answer my own question posed at the top of this post, the only time anyone on the left would think that this is a good thing is when it’s done to a Republican president. Or at least, this Republican president.

Say what you want about President Bush, and everyone left and right is never short of words to describe him, he is the elected president. He does set national policy, at least according to the Constitution. The intelligence community is supposed to answer to him, not the other way around.

If that quote is true, though, the elected president isn’t in charge of the IC at all. It’s in charge of him.

This is a good thing? I don’t see how. It looks like a brazen threat to the republic, regardless of which political party you happen to support. But I guess that’s just me.

What happens if the IDF tells our military during this weekend’s briefings that the NIE is wrong? What then?

Update: Hm. Follow the links all the way out and you just go from one lefty blog to another. There’s no solid sourcing on the quote even on its original blog. It’s just one guy saying he’s hearing stuff, and the one guy likes to toss out the phrase “neocon Jacobins,” whatever that means.

So I’m coming around to doubting the substance of the quote above. I doubt that blogger is really hearing anything but the voices in his own head. That lefties are celebrating what it would mean is still disturbing, though.

What is more likely is that the president knew based on the history of the past few years that there was no way on this earth that that NIE would remain secret. It would be leaked. So he had to release it, whatever he thought of the wisdom of doing so.

Update: This is one of those posts that I come to regret posting the morning after. If it’s not the edginess of the post itself it’s some of the discussion it generates. But here’s some solace. The WSJ has come out agreeing with me.

In this regard, it’s hilarious to see the left and some in the media accuse Mr. Bush once again of distorting intelligence. The truth is the opposite. The White House was presented with this new estimate only weeks ago, and no doubt concluded it had little choice but to accept and release it however much its policy makers disagreed. Had it done otherwise, the finding would have been leaked and the Administration would have been assailed for “politicizing” intelligence.

The result is that we now have NIE judgments substituting for policy in a dangerous way. For one thing, these judgments are never certain, and policy in a dangerous world has to account for those uncertainties. We know from our own sources that not everyone in American intelligence agrees with this NIE “consensus,” and the Israelis have already made clear they don’t either.