“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, December 03, 2007

A Political Coup in Washington.

This is really a stunning development. I cannot recall anything of such magnitude.
Here is the entire report It is not a long read. Go to the last page and read the conclusions between the estimates. According to this report, one can only conclude that there is no immediate urgent need for the US or anyone else to attack Iranian nuclear facilities. Obviously that could change at a later date. So what has been going on in Washington?

US spies give shock verdict on Iran threat

Intelligence agencies say Tehran halted weapons programme in 2003

Ewen MacAskill in Washington
Tuesday December 4, 2007
The Guardian

US intelligence agencies undercut the White House yesterday by disclosing for the first time that Iran has not been pursuing a nuclear weapons development programme for the past four years. The secret report, which was declassified yesterday and published, marked a significant shift from previous estimates. "Tehran's decision to halt its nuclear weapons programme suggests it is less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005," it said.
Article continues

The disclosure makes it harder for President George Bush, to justify a military strike against Iran before he leaves office next year. It also makes it more difficult to persuade Russia and China to join the US, Britain and France in imposing a new round of sanctions on Tehran.

Bush and vice-president Dick Cheney have been claiming without equivocation that Tehran is bent on achieving a nuclear weapon, with the president warning in October of the risk of a third world war. They were briefed on the national intelligence estimate (NIE) on Wednesday.

The White House national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, at a press conference yesterday, denied there were echoes of the intelligence failure over Iraq's phantom weapons of mass destruction. He said that Iran was "one of a handful of the hardest intelligence targets going" and the new intelligence had only arrived in the past few months. As soon as it did, both the president and Congress had been briefed. He warned that there would be a tendency now to think "the problem is less bad than we thought, let's relax. Our view is that would be a mistake."

The NIE, which pulls together the work of the 16 American intelligence agencies, is entitled Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities. It concluded: "We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003 Tehran halted its nuclear weapons programme." It had not been restarted as of the middle of this year.

In a startling admission from an administration that regularly portrays Iran as the biggest threat to the Middle East and the world, the NIE said: "We do not know whether [Iran] currently intends to develop nuclear weapons." That contradicts the assessment two years ago that baldly stated that Tehran was "determined to develop nuclear weapons".

The British government, which is planning to discuss the report with its US counterparts during the next few days, has also repeatedly said it suspects President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government of seeking a nuclear weapons capability. It will claim that the weapons halt shows that diplomacy - in particular the threat of sanctions - can work.

The weapons halt roughly coincided with a visit by British, French and German foreign ministers to Tehran in October 2003.

The Iranian government has insisted throughout that it is only pursuing a civilian nuclear programme.

Although a halt to the nuclear weapons programme is significant, the NIE is far from a clean bill of health for Iran. Tehran is pushing ahead with its uranium enrichment programme, which has only limited civilian use and could be quickly converted to nuclear military use. The NIE warned that Iran could secure a nuclear weapon by 2010. The US state department's intelligence and research office, one of the agencies involved, said the more likely timescale would be 2013. All the agencies concede that Iran may not have enough enriched uranium until after 2015.

The White House will continue to try to intensify international pressure on Iran. Russia and China, two of the permanent members of the UN security council, have scuppered attempts by the US over the past six months to impose tough new sanctions on Iran.

The decision to publish the NIE is aimed at trying to recover the public credibility lost when the agencies wrongly claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction in the years leading up to 2003.


  1. i can feel the love....

    I just got doing watching pigs fly!

    those highly advertised meetings that iran had this year ("a world without america" & "a world without the zionist entity") were actually a mistranslation, it should have read "a world with american and israel"

    kumbaya my lord.... kumbaya

    nothing has changed in the halls of those of us that know......

    iran will be handled, iran will not cause genocide, and if america lacks the spine to do it, so be it...

    israel and the jewish people see the writing on the wall...

    if only israel was destroyed, then we'd have world peace...

  2. This could effectively end any major new US initiative in the ME under the Bush Administration. It is a negative for Rudy Giuliani, McCain and a boost to the Democrats and Ron Paul. it will certainly embolden Congress.

  3. 129 mph winds reported on Northwest Pacific Coast--

    The Storm

    Against the stone breakwater,
    Only an ominous lapping,
    While the wind whines overhead,
    Coming down from the mountain,
    Whistling between the arbors, the winding terraces;
    A thin whine of wires, a rattling and flapping of leaves,
    And the small street-lamp swinging and slamming against
    the lamp pole.
    Where have the people gone?
    There is one light on the mountain.


    Along the sea-wall, a steady sloshing of the swell,
    The waves not yet high, but even,
    Coming closer and closer upon each other;
    A fine fume of rain driving in from the sea,
    Riddling the sand, like a wide spray of buckshot,
    The wind from the sea and the wind from the mountain contending,
    Flicking the foam from the whitecaps straight upward into the darkness.

    A time to go home!—
    And a child's dirty shift billows upward out of an alley,
    A cat runs from the wind as we do,
    Between the whitening trees, up Santa Lucia,
    Where the heavy door unlocks,
    And our breath comes more easy—
    Then a crack of thunder, and the black rain runs over us, over
    The flat-roofed houses, coming down in gusts, beating
    The walls, the slatted windows, driving
    The last watcher indoors, moving the cardplayers closer
    To their cards, their anisette.


    We creep to our bed, and its straw mattress.
    We wait; we listen.
    The storm lulls off, then redoubles,
    Bending the trees half-way down to the ground,
    Shaking loose the last wizened oranges in the orchard,
    Flattening the limber carnations.

    A spider eases himself down from a swaying light-bulb,
    Running over the coverlet, down under the iron bedstead.
    Water roars into the cistern.

    We lie closer on the gritty pillow,
    Breathing heavily, hoping—
    For the great last leap of the wave over the breakwater,
    The flat boom on the beach of the towering sea-swell,
    The sudden shudder as the jutting sea-cliff collapses,
    And the hurricane drives the dead straw into the living pine-tree.
    Theodore Roethke

    For myself,I don't believe a word of that NIE. Can kicked down the road.

  4. Europeans See Murkier Case for Sanctions

    Published: December 4, 2007
    PARIS, Dec. 3 — The Bush administration’s new intelligence assessment that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 is likely to complicate efforts to impose new sanctions on Iran at the United Nations Security Council, European officials said Monday.

    The officials, who declined to be identified under normal diplomatic rules, stressed that their governments were formally studying the new assessment of Iran’s nuclear intentions and capabilities by the administration’s intelligence agencies.

    But they added that they were struggling to understand why the United States chose to issue the report just two days after the six powers involved in negotiating with Iran — the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany — had decided to press ahead with a new Security Council resolution.

    “Officially, we will study the document carefully; unofficially, our efforts to build up momentum for another resolution are gone,” said one European official involved in the diplomacy.

    Another senior European official called the conclusions of the assessment “unfathomable.”

    Both Russia and China have resisted the passage of more punitive sanctions, and Vitaly Churkin, the Russian ambassador to the United Nations, praised the report as vindication of Russia’s position.

  5. STORM

    Kind of storm that gets the blood circulating! We're getting the leftovers here.

    I don't have any idea what's going on, but I don't believe it. Sarkosy was breathing fire recently. At least more sanctions in the offing. Psst!

  6. The Guardian's Comment is Free is enjoyable.

    A POTUS would be wise to listen to the NIE

    Would he or she not?

    It would now be unwise for the Persians to retaliate against the U.S. for Israeli actions?

    On a different topic -

    When did Pakistan's government threaten the U.S. with its nuclear arsenal?

  7. Bobal: 129 mph winds reported on Northwest Pacific Coast--

    Tell me about it. Storm of a lifetime, took me 4 hours to get home, and that's only because I knew the backroads in the hills behind Bremerton...there was exactly one way to get from Navy Base Kitsap to Tacoma, and even those back roads had rivers of muddy water to drive through. The traffic got thinner the more floods we drove through.

  8. Achmed the Dead Terrorist!!

  9. Trish needs to read this and comment before she goes to Colombia. I plead guilty to having been a chronic misspeller of Colombia. I still want to go for the "U".

  10. 2164th: This could effectively end any major new US initiative in the ME under the Bush Administration. It is a negative for Rudy Giuliani, McCain and a boost to the Democrats and Ron Paul. it will certainly embolden Congress.

    Think of the positive things, Deuce. Its the end of the preemptive Bush Doctrine. It means the dork in the Oval Office won't be throwing the Iranian people into the arms of the very Mullahs they despise, as airstrikes are wont to do. It means we won't have to deal with a counterattack by the Iranian infantry into Mesopotamia and the Hezbollah on our interests elsewhere. It ensures there will be no voter backlash against the GOP, which would set back that team for a generation (I say team, rather than ideology, because no one believes the GOP is the fiscal conservative, moral party anymore).

  11. I was wondering if you were still in Washington state, Teresita, I thought you might have been blown to the Dakotas by now. Glad you survived!:)

  12. "When did Pakistan's government threaten the U.S. with its nuclear arsenal?"
    The concern, of course, is not the current government, but the growing Taliban insurgency, and anti-government elements of the Army.
    Thus far, the Taliban leadership, which we managed to move from Afghanistan to Pakistan, has been able to spawn their insurgency virtually unchecked.

  13. Hey, T:
    You were one of the one's predicting W would move on Iran, weren't you?

  14. I tell you what. I cannot recall anything quite like this. It is truly extraordinary. It is a political coup.

  15. The last folk to talk about hitting the US with nuclear weapons were the Soviets, I do believe.

    The Iranians have never mentioned it. Nor have the Pakistani that are holding the nuclear weapons, today. Though other residents of Pakistan have the desire, if not the capacity.

    China, under Mao, thought they'd survive a MAD exchange, who knows if they could have, back in the day.

    Today, the US is as secure from nuclear attack as it has ever been during my lifetime. Maybe more secure from it, as we are connected at the hip with the Chinese and Mr Putin is busy consolidating his position in Russia. Not being expansionist, but by utilizing his soft power.

    The Iranians are bombless, but for small shaped charges. ICBM-less, as well.
    The Israeli Air Force, they could not shut down Hezzbollah in Lebanon, a two minute flight. The idea that they'll destroy Iran and its' infrastructure, just another flight of fantasy.

    If the Israeli launch their nukes, first ...
    It'd be the end of Israel, as a State.

  16. Doug said: Hey, T: You were one of the one's predicting W would move on Iran, weren't you?

    I'm a shit-poor prognosticator. But like Deuce said, this is an extraordinary coup. In hindsight it was inevitable that the various and sundry intelligence agencies would seek political retribution for the mis-use of their product in 2002-2003 leading up the the Iraq war. Timing. Timing. Timing.

  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

  18. If the Israeli launch their nukes, first ...
    It'd be the end of Israel, as a State.

    there are many things short of nuking iran that comes to mind...

    if the usa, europe, china & the russians seek to leave iran to their own devices (and thereby throwing israel to the dogs) you will force israel into a fortress israel mentality...

    I predict that within 60 days you will see syria move on lebanon, hamas move on abbas & iran continue to threaten israel, europe and the west...

    by spring? another major war with iran by proxy..

  19. T,
    I don't really look at it that way ("coup") more like insurance, cause I was predicting NO action from Bush even in the absence of a change in our sure-fire intelligence.
    The Cowboys feet have been blue cold for more than two years, understandably so, since he almost single-handedly cemented the eventualities in Iraq at the outset, when he decided the compassionate one would remake Iraq from the ground up into a western-style Democracy.
    Reality has been his teacher ever since, even tho he'll go to his grave w/o ever admitting it.

  20. I still say this short video does more to explain OIF's destiny than most of the bloviating blogfarts combined!
    A rebuttal to claims made by L. Paul Bremer III that top American officials approved the decision to disband the Iraqi army.

  21. The only way I can get the video portion to work is to close all my other programs and choose low quality.
    Somehow, the videos on the front page of the times work correctly, but these often don't.
    Odd how youtube almost always works, but thats why Google is taking over the universe.

  22. I assess with a high level of confidence that Contentions such as this are more or less on the mark. It will be interesting to read what falls out in the next few days.

  23. Doug, maybe Bush pushed the release to save Bush from Bush.

  24. Interesting, a quick look at the blogs and news sites, and you can see that the significance of this story is not quite yet understood.

  25. WHAT IS going on here? Are we really prepared to allow the tyrant of Teheran to threaten our very existence? It is possible, of course, that these reports are merely part of the overall game-plan, and that they are aimed at lulling the Iranians into a false sense of security prior to a surprise attack on their nuclear installations.
    Freund,at Jerusalem Post


  26. Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Tuesday that Iran had probably restarted its nuclear weapons program, contradicting a U.S. intelligence report that said it was frozen in 2003 and remained on hold.

    "It seems Iran in 2003 halted for a certain period of time its military nuclear program but as far as we know it has probably since renewed it," Barak told Army Radio.


  27. Maybe we'd all be better off if the President would just always do the opposite of whatever the NIE indicates he should do.

  28. Doug's , Tue Dec 04, 01:31:00 AM EST. link. That video will be the basis for a real Congressional Inquiry. I remember my astonishment at hearing the news of the decision of the news to disband the Iraq army.

    It was so obvious that the whole enterprise was being controlled by draft dodgers and people with the street smarts of a five year old. There are a lot of dead and maimed Americans, not to mention tens of thousands of Iraqis, who owe their fate to these arrogant pompous fools.

    The decision had the brilliance and intelligence of the collected wisdom of the military command at Gallipoli, yet Bush put a medal on L. Paul Bremer's chest.

  29. This NIE is no surprise and it provides the perfect cover for Bush and Cheney to "dial down the rhetoric on Iran".

    That Iran will most likely "not have enriched uranium until 2015" is "wonderful news." It means that we now have enough time to concentrate on Victory in Iraq, peace in Palestine and general legacy burnishing.

    Soon we will know whether it is also time to prepare the ticker tape. Just in time for the 2008 elections. Perfect!

  30. Thanks for the Promo, Deuce, I wish everyone was forced to watch that thing at least ten times.

    Every time I watch it, the picture becomes more clear, and more and more stuff that happened since that fateful decision falls into place.
    ...during the Bremmer years, it was virtually all spin to cover the sordid reality.

  31. My stupid new vista computer wouldn't do the job...
    I went to my old Dell with 264mb RAM, and watched the thing full screen at high quality with no problem!
    ...highly recommended, you see more details, including captions, in full screen.
    It then automatically took me to Kristof's tour of No Korea and China, which is really worth the time.
    Haven't finished all the China one's yet.

  32. Christianity in China
    460 Million would make China home to the World's Largest Congregation!
    ...would be nice.
    The next video is "The Olympics first Losers"
    which is the negative to balance the positive Christian report.

  33. I think you're catching the drift, whit.

    It is, always was, all about US. Tickertape, from July to October, 2008. Won't be a bad thing.

    Ancient history, that Mr Bush approved the plan to disband the Iraqi Army. Bad decision, at least as bad as not allowing the Iraqi to hold elections in Jun of 03.

    10May to 28Jun 2003, a series of decisions that cemented US in Iraq. Mr Bush signed off on the plan, the other folk, those in the video, not in the decision loop.

    If Mr Bush did not want to expand that loop, he was under no obligation to do so. He was the Decider, he's told US that many times.

  34. China's man at the 'news' desk

    Decades of on-camera presence couldn't prepare Edwin Maher for this gig, mouthing the party line for a state-run TV network.

  35. That Mr Bush later expressed surprise that the Army was disbanded, an example of his competence as a Decider in Chief.

    We all read the letter he signed, in response to Mr Bremmer writing to tell him the decision to disband was about to be implemented.

    No matter what the underlings were led to believe, they were not the Deciders, that job title resides in the White House.
    Simple as simon.

  36. Doug: My stupid new vista computer wouldn't do the job...I went to my old Dell with 264mb RAM, and watched the thing full screen at high quality with no problem!

    Doug, go to the Puppy Linux website and grab the free ISO (<100 Meg) and burn it to a CD with Nero or something. Then boot with the disk in the drive (it runs in RAM and won't hurt Windows). Then mount your Windows drive, make some popcorn, and click on your movie file.

  37. Deuce: Interesting, a quick look at the blogs and news sites, and you can see that the significance of this story is not quite yet understood.

    Fred Kaplan, Slate:

    "Skeptics of war have rarely been so legitimized. Vice President Cheney has never been so isolated. If Bush were to order an attack under these circumstances, he would risk a major eruption in the chain of command, even a constitutional crisis, among many other crises. It seems extremely unlikely that even he would do that."

    From the right, the Weekly Standard:

    "So, in 2005 the IC was sure that Iran was determined to build a nuclear weapon and now it is not sure at all. This is a profound change in opinion and, at a minimum, does not inspire confidence that the IC can get this story right."