Tuesday, December 11, 2007

NIE Fantasyland: Exposing Extra-Constitutional Sedition

Bret Stephens has written probably as good a summary of the "intellectual vacancy" which underlies the latest NIE--and the extent to which the process of intelligence summary has been compromised--that I have yet seen. Some highlights (emphasis mine):
In "Avoiding Nuclear Anarchy" (1996), MIT's Owen Cote notes that "The recipe [for designing a weapon] is very simple. . . . Nor are the ingredients, other than plutonium or HEU [highly enriched uranium], hard to obtain. For a gun weapon, the gun barrel could be ordered from any machine shop, as could a tungsten tamper machined to any specifications the customer desired. The high-explosive charge for firing the bullet could also be fashioned by anyone with access to and some experience handling TNT, or other conventional, chemical explosives" (my emphasis).

In other words, Iran didn't abandon its nuclear weapons program. On the contrary, it went public with it. It's certainly plausible Tehran may have suspended one aspect of the program--the aspect that is the least technically challenging and that, if exposed, would offer smoking-gun proof of ill intent. Then again, why does the NIE have next to nothing to say about Iran's efforts to produce plutonium at the Arak facility, which is of the same weapons-producing type as Israel's Dimona and North Korea's Yongbyon reactors? And why the silence on Iran's ongoing and acknowledged testing of ballistic missiles of ever-longer range, the development of which only makes sense as a vehicle to deliver a weapon of mass destruction?


Then again, when it comes to the issue of trust, it isn't just Mr. Ahmadinejad we need to worry about. It has been widely pointed out that the conclusions of this NIE flatly contradict those of a 2005 NIE on the same subject, calling the entire process into question. Less discussed is why the administration chose to release a shoddy document that does maximum political damage to it and to key U.S. allies, particularly France, the U.K. and Israel.

The likely answer is that the administration calculated that any effort by them to suppress or tweak the NIE would surely leak, leading to accusations of "politicizing intelligence." But that only means that we now have an "intelligence community" that acts as an authority unto itself, and cannot be trusted to obey its political masters, much less keep a secret. The administration's tacit acquiescence in this state of affairs may prove even more damaging than its wishful thinking on Iran.

For years it has been a staple of fever swamp politics to believe the U.S. government is in the grip of shadowy powers using "intelligence" as a tool of control. With the publication of this NIE, that is no longer a fantasy.

Exactly. Wag the Dog. Only in this case the "dog" is the Constitutional authority of the President of the United States.

Let's get one thing clear here: the Constitution is THE social contract between our government and we the governed. As much as those on The View might like it to be, the contract is not DNC talking points nor is it the UN Charter. The Constitution is the Contract. It is the highest law of the land. Yet somehow we have allowed the Central Intelligence Agency and the State Department to become the fourth and fifth branches of government, respectively; the "Intelligence community" has been allowed to become a KGB-like government in and of itself, answerable to no one. It is time to bring these cowboys back down to Earth, and within the appropriate bounds of Constitutional authority. It is up to We the People--and a strong, determined President--to put a stop to this treason, before our Constitution becomes as worthless as the paper it is written upon.

The first step is to elect a leader who will take his oath to uphold the Constitution seriously, and who will be willing to take whatever steps necessary to wipe the slate clean in both agencies. The President is entitled to an Intelligence Community that serves solely at the whim of the Executive Branch, and answers to no one else. And in our Constitution, the President IS the Executive Branch, not the CIA or State Department, or any other agency within the Executive bureaucracy with a different agenda. This NIE fiasco, the leaks to the NY Times re: secret terror monitoring methods, the Plame/Wilson joke--all these are little more than bureaucrats trying to sabotage a President. But the threat is not only to the President's authority--during a time of War, the threat is to our very lives. If Iran or its agents detonate a nuke in the US or Isreal or Europe, and we did nothing to stop it beforehand, all because a ridiculous political NIE was allowed to surface, then whose hands will the blood of the tens of thousands of casualties be on? This is not a game: we are at War and it is our lives and the lives of millions of innocents which are being placed in harm's way by these partisan bureaucrats. Our Intelligence agencies are out of control. It is madness and it is suicidal; and quite frankly, it has to be stopped.

What is needed is to get a President that will "man up" and to do the difficult work of cleaning house in these bureaucracies, before they swallow whole the rest of us. We need to elect someone with the cojones and determination to take on these traitors within, even if it means tearing the agencies down to nothing and starting over again. Because when rogue operatives in our Intelligence community are permitted (and even encouraged by Democrats and the media...) to actively engage in sabotaging a President's ability to function as THE Executive Branch, we no longer have a functioning Executive Branch. And we no longer are living under the social contract of the Constitution.

We deserve better, and furthermore we owe it to all of the men and women who have laid down their lives for the last 231+ years defending that Constitution. To allow the Constitution to be usurped by partisans within the CIA and State is an abomination to all those who have ever served under the Stars and Stripes.

My feeling is that if we don't get someone in the White House in the next election cycle that is willing to take on these bureaucracies, it is going to cost us dearly as a nation; perhaps more dearly than we could ever have imagined in our worst nightmares. Quite frankly, I don't see the kind of will power or belief in the Constitution that this kind of reform will take in either Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, or John Edwards. Nor do I see in the Democrats a party who would support such an effort. So give me Fred, or Mitt, or Rudy. Give me someone who will fight for the Constitution of the United States, and not merely pay it lip service. But for God's sake let us not turn a blind eye to this danger any longer.

UPDATE: It is good to see that the Captain and I are on the same page here.

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds is not exactly objecting to the idea either:


UPDATE: On the other hand, John Podhoretz asks: Is Jose Rodriguez a hero?

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