by Ray McGovern
Not that the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM) has exactly trumpeted this important conclusion. One has to read down to paragraph 16 of an article titled "Reduced Dominance Is Predicted for the U.S.," but there it is, right there on an inside page of Sept. 10's Washington Post.
It is the 64-dollar question
– whether or not there is evidence that
(NIE) of November 2007 that it had stopped.
The Post's Joby Warrick and Walter Pincus
quote Fingar as saying there is no evidence that
For those who do not remember, Fingar was head of the State Department's intelligence unit in 2002, when he courageously resisted the efforts of super-analyst Dick Cheney and his tool, then-CIA Director George Tenet, to manufacture – out of whole cloth – a "reconstituted" Iraqi nuclear weapons program.
resistance, that judgment appeared in the Oct. 1, 2002, NIE on
Fingar, who is now head of the
National Intelligence Council and supervises the preparation of NIEs and the President's Daily Brief, spoke in
His remarks, particularly those during his evening keynote address on Sept. 4, are well worth a read – particularly for those numerous observers who have concluded that articulate, trenchant analysis of world trends is a thing of the past.
In remarks made earlier that day, Fingar made it clear that he had set a new tone when he took over as chief substantive analyst for the intelligence community. No longer would he tolerate using quantity of intelligence products as a measure of effectiveness.
The intelligence he was/is determined to provide had to be, in his words, "more useful...It had to be on target...It had to be there at the right time, in the right place, with the right information, with important insights...We had to know exactly what our customers needed."
Even if they did not want to hear it, he might have added.
The gutsy NIE of November
2007 stated that, contrary to what President George W. Bush and Vice President
Dick Cheney had been saying throughout 2007, the nuclear weapons-related
The good news was that, at
the insistence of our most senior military, who realize what a debacle it would
be to attack
The Bad News
Tom Fingar plays second fiddle to Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell and his principal deputy, Donald Kerr. It is those two (God help us) who brief the president six mornings a week with the President's Daily Brief.
On a substantive sophistication scale of 1 to 10, Fingar has earned a 10, in my view; McConnell and Kerr are between a 3 and 4. They spent their previous intelligence careers running satellites and surveillance activities.
McConnell, while testifying
before Congress shortly after being confirmed in his new job, seemed mystified
as to why Israeli intelligence on
As for Donald Kerr, one need only read his vapid prepared remarks before the pro-Israel Washington Institute for Near East Policy on May 29, 2008, to get a sense of what he brings to the substantive table.
Kerr took an interestingly different line on Iran, consistent with talking points handed out to the New York Times and other FCM two days earlier. Rather than repeating what the NIE of November 2007 said, Kerr was agnostic about whether the Iranians had restarted weapons-related activities ("we do not know" became the phrasing).
The relevant NIE key
judgment reads: "We assess with moderate confidence
The Kerr kind of fudging makes it easier for not only Bush and Cheney, but also lesser lights like Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen to obfuscate on this key question.
Although Cheney (and presumably Bush) no doubt would like them to be more alarmist, Mullen and other more sober characters have settled on the curious formulation that Iran is "on a path" to nuclear weapons.
Strange path, with