Dick Vetted the Intelligence Two Weeks Ago

The NYT provides more details about the intelligence collected in mid-2007 that confirmed the judgment that Iran suspended its nukes program back in 2003. In addition to the intercepted communications, there were also notes from Iran’s military leaders.

Most interesting–at least to those who obsess about the timing of all this–is that the intelligence analysts had to present the raw intelligence to Cheney.

In the end, American intelligence officials rejected that theory, though they were challenged to defend that conclusion in a meeting two weeks ago in the White House situation room, in which the notes and deliberations were described to the most senior members of President Bush’s national security team, including Vice President Dick Cheney.

“It was a pretty vivid exchange,” said one participant in the conversation.

Good to see the Vice President hasn’t lost his affection for twisting arms.

Here’s how this looks in our big timeline:

November 13: McConnell says NIE will be done "in about a month" but that judgments will not be released; he also says he would resign if results were "cherry picked"

November 16: At OPEC, the Saudi Foreign Minister refuses to make a public statement about ditching the dollar–but he says the economic ministers should discuss it

Week of November 19: Intelligence Officials present underlying intelligence to Cheney and others at meeting in Sit Room.

November 22: Mohammed el Baradei states Iran is cooperating, though IAEA still has questions about its nuclear program

November 23: The Saudis confirm attendance at Annapolis Conference; on the same day, they send the conservative Nawaz Sharif back to Pakistan to contest elections

November 25: Nawaz Sharif returns to Pakistan

November 26: Syria confirms attendance at Annapolis Conference

November 26: Per Seymour Hersh, Bush tells Ehud Olmert what’s in the NIE.

November 27: The Annapolis Peace Conference

November 28: The day Hadley claims Bush was briefed on the NIE; Bush meets with Olmert again; in Pakistan, Musharraf relinquishes military position

November 29: Khalilzad submits a resolution

That is, the Sit Room meeting took place in the same week as Mohammed el Baradei gave Iran a relatively clean report (raising the question whether IAEA had the same intelligence–and whether they got the notes the NYT described before or after the US did). It also took place just as the Annapolis meeting fell into place.

And I still think the press should be asking: if Dick had seen–and twisted the arms of–this intelligence two weeks ago, then why didn’t he even tell Bush about it? Or did he?

  1. Rayne says:

    Wasn’t Olmert “summoned” to Washington? Can’t remember where I read that now, that he was not asked but told to get his ass over here…just wondering when somebody made that phone call.

  2. BillE says:

    Wasn’t there also another mention of Darth’s ticker recently? Is the family / medical reasons exit now a possibility? All this is looking like somebody is greasing up the skids to exit Darth stage right.

    Nice site over here. I miss the small comment threads though, they were powerpacked.

  3. TheraP says:

    I wonder if you also want to consider how the stock market and bond market and price of oil/value of the dollar also fit into this. (even those timelines)

    I know there’s this overarching foreign policy take-over thing going on. And I am fascinated with the time lines and theorizing that’s going on here. And I’m sorry to keep mentioning the need to see the bigger picture.

    But, I’m wondering about certain “psychological impacts” (due to the national and world financial situations) – which may also have played a role in all this. (I see this has been included as a theory… but I’m wondering about matching the market charts for stocks, bonds, currency, oil, etc. with your time lines.) Here are some of my thoughts on that:

    1. the bush folks likely lost huge piles of money due to the bond meltdown is my guess. (due to their investments in hedge funds, I’d guess – gotta put your money somewhere… remember bush’s remark about “fill the ole coffers”)

    2. other folks lost huge piles of money and are looking to the govmint to fix things for them.

    3. elections are coming up… and a depression would not be helpful to the repugs.

    4. threat of war was driving up the cost of oil, driving down the dollar even more.

    5. a lot of nervousness in the Market. Here. Abroad. So, I’m assuming many govts and financial houses and so on were leaning on bushco – things were getting hot and heavy in that dept. not just so many others.

    6. people losing houses. losing their sense of security and feeling ashamed about that… even if they know it’s happening to others. not good to have an uprising over things like that – from the oppressed masses!

    7. meltdown in housing market contributing to all of this being so much worse.

    Shorter version: seems to me aligning market data with all of this might show an underlying “other” ticking time bomb. Which may have been affected positively by the NIE. Or at least it looks so at the moment.

    Of course I may be off-base… but just throwing this into this mix.

    And astounded and thrilled really by what you people are doing here! So BRAVO!!!

    • emptywheel says:


      I think I’m going to work on a shitpile timeline next week or soon thereafter. And I hope to find a way to merge timelines to see how they interact (for example, the Pakistan stuff doesn’t really belong in this one, but I put it in there out of gut feel that there are some overlaps of events for the Saudis).

      But I agree, there is likely an economic component as well, which is why I think the OPEC non-discussion abotu dictching the dollar is relevant.

      • skdadl says:

        EW, I don’t know exactly how the latest Pakistan details fit in, but I’m sure that they do, even if Cheney lost control of local developments (or never really had such control). We are looking at a low-level regional war already going on, and Cheney’s dealings with Musharraf were certainly driven by his fixation on Iran.

        • emptywheel says:

          While, my logic is fairly simple. First, it’s a lot harder to start a war against Iran using nukes as an excuse when everyone is visibly concerned about Pakistan’s nukes (and argument I’ve been making for years, in the hopes the Dems would turn their attentin to stabilizing Pakistan and thereby undercut the Iran BS; only Kerry and Biden did anything halfway decent here). So it’s possible the worsening conditions in Pakistan made some exercise more cuation (or made the general take greater risks in pushing back against CHeney).

          And second, I don’t believe the Sharif/Saudi acceptance of inivte to Annapolis is a coincidence.

      • TheraP says:

        Delighted to hear that! Because I’m thinking how these crooks must have felt aa the bond market froze up in summer – just about the time they could see their nukes in Iran disappearing down a sinkhole too!

        There’s a certain Schadenfreude connected to that.

  4. eCAHNomics says:

    Gordon Prather on antiwar.com hypothesizes that release of Iran NIE is so the neocons can get the idea out that Iran HAD a nuke program, in advance of ElBaradei reporting that there NEVER WAS an Iranian nuke program.
    Prather’s difficult to listen too; TMI. The crux is about 11 minutes into the program.

    • Leen says:

      Just finished listening to Gordon Prather..thanks. Will sure spread this one around.

      Did you listen to that clip at Raw Story of Biden bringing up impeachment again? This is the second time Chris Matthews bring up the incomplete Phase II of the Senate Select Committee report about the false pre-war intelligence.

      I wonder if something is coming with that incomplete report? Think Progress had the best coverage that I was aware of about that incomplete report.


      When John Dean visited FDL last he said that Senator Rockefeller was not much better than Republican Senator Pat Roberts who did everything he could to delay, dilute and divert that report that has never been completed.

    • Leen says:

      Listened two times now. Will listen a third time. Worth it


      Iran Intelligence Report: Another Psychological Warfare?

      By Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich
      ‘To subdue an enemy without fighting is the acme of skill…’ – Sun Tzu

      12/05/07 “ICH” — – Under the current administration, it is increasingly difficult to know who the enemy is, but what is certain is that the latest National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) is a brilliantly executed psychological warfare by way of misinformation. This dastardly plan is so devious that even the anti-war groups are jubilant at its release, and they are naively sharing its contents. Perhaps non are as enthusiastic about the report as the most powerful lobby group in America hostile to Iran.

  5. merkwurdiglieber says:

    The recurring meme of a split between darth and potus could be an
    illusion… nothing in potus remarks indicate a disagreement, just
    the usual lying about everything and leaving it up to us to sort it
    out, hoping for a split or some other miracle cure to a deep cultural
    disease. They may have had to jumpstart darth after a rough meeting, but
    this has a long way to play out.

  6. Leen says:

    Aipac pushing hard
    AIPAC: Intelligence makes case against Iran

    Published: 12/04/2007

    AIPAC says a U.S. national intelligence estimate bolsters the case to isolate Iran.

    The American Israel Public Affairs Committee was reacting to a report that the assessments by all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, declassified this week, is that Iran suspended a nuclear weapons program in 2003.

    AIPAC spokesman Josh Block told JTA that if anything, the report showed that Iran had advanced further than was publicly known.

    “Far from acquitting Iran, the NIE reveals that Tehran continues to violate the international community’s calls to end the pursuit of the fuel cycle and the ability to make highly enriched uranium, concludes that Iran has utilized and has at its disposal a hidden, secret second unacknowledged, unmonitored track for enriching bomb fuel, and has engaged in a nuclear weaponization program, an assessment never before made public by the American intelligence community,” Block said. “All in all, it’s a clarion call for additional and continued effort to pressure Iran economically and politically to end its illicit nuclear programs.”

        • eCAHNomics says:

          To parse, it’s possible that ElBardei was referring to the part of the NIE about not having an active program now, rather than the part about Iran used to have one. Prather seems to say that IAEA will soon be coming out with another statement, and that’s the one Prather thinks will contain the information that Iran never had a program.

          This is more into the details than my knowledge is comfortable with. I just pass along things I see that I find interesting,

  7. Leen says:

    IAF chief draws Iran-Hitler link
    mail E-mail News Brief
    mail Tell the Editors

    Published: 12/05/2007

    The commander of the Israeli Air Force urged his top brass to consider Iran’s president a possible modern Hitler.

    Maj.-Gen. Eliezer Shkedi recently distributed a letter to senior Air Force commanders in which he noted the similarities between Adolf Hitler’s pre-Holocaust rhetoric and the anti-Israel vitriol of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

    “These statements, at this time, are becoming relevant in light of the direct and veiled threats of the Iranian president about the existence of the State of Israel,” read the letter, which was leaked to Yediot Achronot. “The words take on special meaning in light of Iran’s efforts to build its military nuclear capabilities and deliver systems the can reach Israel.

    “We must remember and not forget. We must rely only on ourselves,” Shkedi concluded.

    Shkedi is the Israeli military officer entrusted with contingency planning for a war with Iran, and his pilots have been training for long-range bombing runs. The Israeli Air Force is also in charge of missile defense systems.

    Shkedi’s deputy, Brig.-Gen. Amir Eshel, led an F-15 warplane formation that flew over Auschwitz in 2003, a ceremony designed to underscore Israel’s vow to use military power to prevent a repeat of the Holocaust.

  8. FrankProbst says:

    What’s really new here is not that Dick Cheney is still twisting arms. What’s new is that it doesn’t seem to be working anymore. I’m still not clear on how the NIE came to be released, but SOMEONE clearly managed to get it out, and you know good and damn well that Cheney was trying to keep that from happening.

    • JohnForde says:

      Juan Cole conjectures that it is Centcom Chief WIlliam Fallon and JCOS chair Michale Mullen who had the gonadal gumption to release the NIE, to “put the crazies back in the box”.

      JC goes on the the next question: How did Fallon & Mullen keep Cheney’s moles from gutting the report? My guess is that Cheney’s moles are now so universally seen within the IC as lunatics that they don’t have the power to stop things like this anymore.

      I think this is the tipping point where Cheney has lost the ability to strike fear that has always been the basis of his power. He’s toast. And, he’s looking at indictments in 2009.

      • bobschacht says:

        “I think this is the tipping point where Cheney has lost the ability to strike fear that has always been the basis of his power. He’s toast. And, he’s looking at indictments in 2009.”

        Back in Bush’s first term, when he didn’t know a dam* thing about international relations, he relied on Cheney as the “expert,” and we saw from the WaPo series how Cheney played Bush like a violin. However, I think the WaPo series might be the watershed on Cheney’s influence: His ability to move and shake has been in decline ever since. Cheney & Rumsfeld ruled the roost from 2000-2004. In the past year, however, I think they have met their match in Negroponte and Fallon– not that I think those guys are saints. They’re just not certified loons, like Cheney is becoming. If you’ve got a tin foil hat handy, go see the last few paragraphs of
        The Strange Case Of The Vanishing United States Attack On Iran, and the links embedded therein.

        The NIE release might be the tipping point for Cheney. I think that Negroponte, Fallon, and others are bureaucratic infighters on a par with Cheney and they are isolating him with a behind-the-scenes boost by Congress. And I think it quite possible that Cheney will not survive 2008 without losing his office, his life (a la “Wild Bill” Casey), or both.

        Bob in HI

  9. garyg says:

    ecahnomics, that is an interesting theory . . . after reading this excerpt at warandpiece, I found myself highly skeptical of the magical laptop upon which we’re hanging our (US gov’t) accusation of an Iranian nuke program. How easy would it be for another interested party to plant that?

    The officials said they were confident that the notes confirmed the existence, up to 2003, of a weapons programs that American officials first learned about from a laptop computer, belonging to an Iranian engineer, that came into the hands of the C.I.A. in 2004.

    • eCAHNomics says:

      Yeah, I’d forgotten about the magic laptop, but being reminded now, I remember that I always thought it was a plant. Prather said that everything on it was in English! Originally I thought the Israelis did it because they would have the language skills (& nuke knowledge) to construct such a scam in Farsi. Now we learn the veneer is so thin they didn’t even try to put in the correct language.

  10. garyg says:

    To elaborate on that point: how did the laptop “c[o]me into the hands of the CIA”? And which officials are “confident” (no modifier, i.e. highly or somewhat) of the existence of a nuclear weapons program?

  11. selise says:

    more questions:

    1) is there conclusive evidence that iran ever did have a nuclear weapons program at any time in the last decade? (see eCAHNomics @ 4).

    2) was cheney able to get any changes made to the nie before it was released? if so, what were they?

    • Leen says:

      Some one on one of the blogs brought up the question of who else visited while the NIE report was being scrubbed? Would Bolton, Feith others have the nerve? Hell yes

  12. Leen says:



    Intel Bombshell Sends Community Scrambling To Hold Line on Iran Threat
    Israel Challenges U.S. Spies’ Report
    By Marc Perelman
    Wed. Dec 05, 2007

    American Jewish groups are scrambling to reformulate their message on Iran following the release this week of a new American intelligence report that states with “high confidence” that Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program four years ago.

    In a conference call Tuesday hurriedly arranged by the umbrella body of Jewish organizations, communal leaders decided to immediately send letters to the presidential candidates from both parties, urging them to continue pushing for sanctions against Iran.

    According to participants in the conference call, concern is high that the unexpected conclusions drawn in the National Intelligence Estimate not only may lead Washington to withdraw the threat of military action against Iran but may also erode the recently reached international consensus on pressuring Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions.”


  13. scribe says:

    I wanted to comment on the NIE Timline take 3, but comments are already closed. It’s annoying, as is the login procedure, which seems to sometimes bounce one back to FDL main when logging in here, or not recognize the login.

    As to Deadeye Dick – why is February 2008 bugging me, and why has it been bugging me for months? Could it be that REAL ID is supposed to go into effect then, the State of the Union address is likely then, and it’s likely both parties’ nominees are likely to be clear by that time? And how does all that mess come out?

    Just speculating.

    • Neil says:

      It’s annoying, as is the login procedure, which seems to sometimes bounce one back to FDL main when logging in here, or not recognize the login.

      Me too. Plus even when it thinks I’ve logged in and I get a comment box on FDL, I don’t get one here at EW. I clicked on “remember me” right below the username password box and now I don’t have to authenticate so frequently.

    • Neil says:

      scribe, that may be so . . . but no jodi . . . a worthwhile trade?

      I don;t understand. How does the oplicy of closing comments on a thread inhibit comments from the blog troll?

  14. LS says:

    Maybe McConnell refused to backdown to Cheney’s desire to cherry pick in that sit room meeting, i.e., threatening to resign over it. Dick’s been either ill or hunting ever since. When Cheney “disappeared” off the scene, intel went public, and W was left holding the bag with all of the lies exposed and is now in major damage control.

    • Rayne says:

      Hmm…actually, that brings up a ‘whole other line of questioning.

      Were certain persons or groups blackmailing others with information about the Oil-for-Food program to obtain certain kinds of performance?

      Witness the recent sentencing of one American in regards to Oil-for-Food — was that a burnt offering to tell certain individuals to piss off?

    • Leen says:

      BBc World service News mentioned Ahmad Chalabi several times this morning. Just what is his position in Iraq now. Still shooting for King or CEO?

  15. brendanx says:

    That seems right. And if they really want to unseat Cheney, doesn’t the logic of things dictate they really have to unseat Cheney? Won’t he be getting a lot sicker soon?

  16. brendanx says:

    It’s hardly the first time. Our 2005 NIE estimated Iran would take ten years, but the administration put its seal of approval on Israeli claims or the 2006 Hoax-tra House report.

    I was wondering where you went, Kathleen. I’m ”brendan”, by the way.

  17. Rayne says:

    Tell you what, EW. I’m curious as hell about all the timing.

    I’ll lift what you have into a spreadsheet, put it under “Iran” column, with a column for Date at the left. Then I’ll add a column for Economic data, and so on.

    Wonder if we’ll see a pattern emerge readily if so mapped.

  18. klynn says:

    Remember back in the 1990’s they did find Polonium 210 which is weapons grade only. They were never ever to track down the source and thought it came from equipment imported into the country.

    Since, there has been concern about smuggling of weapons grade across the Caspian as well as through Turkey from a big neighbor… That concern reared it’s head again in the Litvinenko murder case in the UK.

  19. emptywheel says:


    WRT keeping comments open and similar functionalities, some of these I just need to learn how to implement (and plan too–I’m as big a fan of ponderous discussions as many of you). I’ll probably do a post next week to collect requests/complaints to see what we can change. The login feature may not be fixable, but I’m sure a lot of other things are.

    • Neil says:

      WRT keeping comments open and similar functionalities, some of these I just need to learn how to implement


      The login feature may not be fixable, but I’m sure a lot of other things are.

      Staying logged in is a good work around for the less than optimal behavior of the authentication mechanism. It seems like authenticating correctly will reliably get you to FDL but not to EW (it gets you there eventually. My wildarsed guess is that the EW threads are on a different piece of hardware and authentication takes a handshake to propogate.) Maybe the techs can tackle it later. It must affect Tbogg, Slaon, Blue America too.

      Thanks for all you do.

  20. LS says:

    This is kind of an interesting observation and post:

    “The NIE apparently came as a surprise to President Bush, who insisted at a news conference the next day that “I was made aware of the NIE last week. In August, I think it was, [HERE’S THE TELL-TALE SLIP:] John – Mike McConnell – came in and said, ‘We have some new information.’ He didn’t tell me what the information was. He did tell me it was going to take a while to analyze.” ….John Negroponte was being replaced [in January] as Director of National Intelligence because he had refused to tailor the NIE to Vice President Cheney’s specificiations.”


  21. Rayne says:

    Think there was a server burp, gang. I got a “database connection error” three times, surprised my comment didn’t duplicate.

  22. emptywheel says:

    Okay, I’ve changed the autoclose on comments to 72 hours. Is that long enough? I’d like to keep it somewhat narrow, so this new shiny blog doesn’t get all the links to French porn, but I agree it needs to stay open longer.

    • scribe says:

      And French porn is bad … um, why, exactly?

      It seems* like if I navigate away from the site, I get logged out. I don’t like “remember me” because I don’t.

      * I use “seems” almost all the time when discussing computer glitches, because what I see and what goes on may not coincide, but WTF.

  23. selise says:

    somedays i think i really need sibel edmonds’ back story to have any chance to make sense of our ME foreign policy. and then i read emptywheel (post and comments) and think there really is hope. thanks everyone.

  24. chetnolian says:

    Whenever I hear AIPAC or similar getting involved in nuclear matters, I see the elephant in the room. Is AIPAC’s view on Dimona etc. that A)that’s good nukes, but Iran’s would be bad nukes B) that it never existed, or C) why don’t you shut up or I’ll send someone to get you?

  25. klynn says:

    d) all of the above (and don’t forget it’s a textile factory not a nuclear facility!)

    Goodness, comply with the UN on Dimona? Never.

    I’m confused, we bombed Iraq because of WMD’s?

    • Redshift says:

      Should I add this from Sy Hersh (10/8), if it’s okay:

      The second development is that the White House has come to terms, in private, with the general consensus of the American intelligence community that Iran is at least five years away from obtaining a bomb.

      (He was writing about the shift in rationale from bombing Iran to take out their nuclear program to bombing Iran to stop their supposed involvement in attacks in Iraq.)

    • Neil says:

      Okay, I’ve set up the spreadsheet — anybody out there want to help populate it?

      I’m not up to speed on the timeline but kudos on the use of new technology. I didn’t know about this google publish document feature.

  26. TheraP says:

    Feb 14 of ‘07, already there were warnings about a meltdown in the bond market for mortgage bonds:


    This gives a graph and links to various articles. And goes all the way back to last Feb, when you already have stuff on your time line.

    To me this is a lot about greed. Greed for money. Greed for oil. Greed for power.

  27. Rayne says:

    selise — you’re right, that is pretty nice timeline at the Beeb. Nice historic component to complement EW’s work.

    Wish the bloody links would import to Google Docs. Ugh.

    TheraP — got anything with US$ per barrel for oil by date, or T-bill price by date?

    • TheraP says:

      It’s all in that graph in the article from my comment @ 74.

      All there!!! Prices. Lows and Highs!

      Don’t you love the web?

  28. TheraP says:

    Here is an article from July 6, 2007 – which links mortgage type bonds, the dollar, oil, gold etc. Even has an amazing graph of these from Jan of ‘05 through June of ‘07. And wonderful explanations of all these and how they interact.

    The writer calls the oil numbers/situation: “the canary in the coal mine.”

    Re my comment @ 70, it is just horrendous that they predicted back in Feb the mess that was coming already in the bond market! And kept selling bonds!

    I think this article and graph may be very helpful:


  29. radiofreewill says:

    So, Bush finds out in August that the Key Judgment he’s been looking for against Iran – Active Nuclear Weapons Program – isn’t in the NIE, and isn’t going to be making it into the NIE.

    So, what does the fitfull Boy-King and his Minime do?

    – Minot/Barksdale Loose Nukes
    – Syrian Provocation Mission
    – WWIII Rhetoric over having ‘the know how’

    All, easily arguably, attempts to ‘fix’ the facts – just like Petraeus’ 3 month delay on the Iraq Benchmark Report to Congress – to fit the Policy of Aggressive War Against Ideological ‘Enemies’ – now Iran, as a member of the Bush-defined ‘Axis of Evil.’

    I think he’s been caught red-handed, again, bullying the Congress and US with Lies and Propaganda that he ordered cooked-up to bolster his case.

  30. Rayne says:

    In order to parse this stuff and put it into the timeline, would be best to find any content that is already in a table or near-table-like format. Charts and graphs won’t help much unless we can get the data backend from which the chart/graph is drawn.

    klynn — the international table from eia.doe.gov w/ oil prices is a good example; how far back does it go? And what do we use as the benchmark? U.S.? one of the Saudi prices? Kuwait or Qatar?

  31. selise says:

    other stuff happening now – no idea if related or not:

    1) RIA reports Chief of Russia General Staff, General Yury Baluyevsky, has just arrived in Washington to begin a five day visit Dec. 3-7. He is to meet the Pentagon Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen…

    2) JTA reports:

    The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff will visit Israel next week to discuss Iran.

    Adm. Michael Mullen will make a 24-hour visit to Israel early next week as a guest of his Israeli counterpart, Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, Yediot Achronot reported Thursday.

    Mullen will be briefed about Israel’s intelligence estimates regarding the Iranian nuclear program, a response to a U.S. report that this week said Iran shelved its quest for an atomic bomb in 2003.

    Israel is keen to preserve Western pressure on Tehran in the wake of the National Intelligence Estimate report. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni plans to discuss the matter with the foreign ministers of NATO countries when they convene Friday at the alliance’s Brussels headquarters.

    Mullen’s visit to Israel will be the first by a Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman in nearly a decade.

    • chetnolian says:

      You bet they’re connected. Everyone is jockeying to stop things simply getting out of hand by accident, which seems to me to be a serious possibility. Hopefully Genl Baluyevsky will remind Adm Mullen that one of the motives of Iran might just be that they are genuinely scared of Israel, which was of course the point of my snark at 65.

  32. Rayne says:

    radiofreewill — could you do me a huge favor and check to see if either of those sites will import data from a .csv or .xls file into a timeline?

  33. Rayne says:

    Hmmm — oh, definitely, what was I thinking?

    Hans — thanks for that; gee, 7 months from arrest to charges? that’s a long time to fish around.

  34. alabama says:


    (A link provided by LS @ 43 on this thread)

    Yes, time-lines can help us keep track of a thing, but what sort of thing? The thing reported, whatever the words “thing” and “reported” may mean.

    Times-lines cannot, by definition, mention things of which we have absolutely no knowledge. They may help in negative ways–by showing us what we don’t know–but they also hinder in negative ways: for example, they can’t help us rank the impact of the facts reported, and so they really can’t help us decide on what facts to include and exclude. They look like Christmas trees.

    We can still work with the time-line if we extract one of its given facts of undeniable import, and build our thoughts around that given fact–folowing pathways that can’t be proven.

    For what it’s worth, I think the NIE was composed by many hands, from many agencies, under the guidance and protection of John Negroponte during his tenure as the Intelligence Czar. This would eventually lead, as emptywheel reports in the second item of the timelime on the previous thread, to his removal from that post last February or thereabouts, and to his installation at the Department of State. (He also supported McConnell, if memory serves, to replace him as the Intelligence Czar. In a word, the two men are allies.)

    And what has Negroponte been doing at State since arriving there? We know, from at least one article published a few months ago, that he has taken a strong hand in firming up the day-to-day management of the bureaucracy. We also read about his travels now and then; there has been no mention whatsoever a breach with Bush, and of course his bond with Rice is very close indeed. But can we build up a “timeline” out of these day-to-day activities and relationships? Negroponte stays completely out of the limelight. He’s a submarine, and like a submarine, he carries torpedoes on board.

    Of course he’s also a team-player on a particular team–indispensable to Powell, among many others, in office as well as out. He’s certainly public enemy number one where Cheney is concerned. I have absolutely no idea of how he’s playing the Middle East at this time, but he’s also a highly skilled diplomat, and so I can’t imagine that he’s bringing any comfort to the folks who like to drop bombs.

    We could go on at great length about all this, but it’s all speculation, and so it doesn’t belong to a time-line.

    (And of course I haven’t even mentioned the key point that makes the kind of speculation sketched out above unacceptable to some, namely his well-rehearsed involvement in the dark doings of Iran-Contra. The same would also apply to folks who pay no heed to his taste for bureaucratic infighting, as first evidenced by his quarrels with Kissinger back in Viet Nam, and for which he has paid, from time to time, a heavy bureaucratic price.)

    Come to think of it, there may be a time-line waiting to happen–the time-line of Negroponte’s career as a bureaucratic submarine. I certainly don’t expect to read it in my own lifetime.

    • Rayne says:

      I hear you, but now that I look at EW’s entries on the time line in a format that I can manipulate, sort, tweak, I am convinced that somebody scrambled very, VERY hard to try and sell product during August, and that data related to activities of a particular country should be a priority.

      Maybe it’s not that a time line can be limited by the data you don’t have; it may leave you big enough holes to outline where a story should be, where the data is missing.

      This one looks like a blackhole — a clear outline suggesting something should be right.there.in.front.of.us.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        Rayne, if you revisit this thread, I just spotted news that the oil majors are going to be signing with Baghdad, using Saddam’s old oil laws. I’m sure there’s more to the story, but this announcement is a significant timeline datapoint.

        An update is at Iraq Oil Report; money and business activities are honest in a rather ruthless, sometimes uncouth, fashion. Implications for global politics not yet clear.

  35. behindthefall says:

    I am flabbergasted. This thread hit critical mass. I have never seen such rapid and expert collaboration in any thread anywhere. emptywheel, “Mikey likes it!”

    • klynn says:

      EW brings out the best in all of us. Just wait, bmaz, maddog, phred and others have yet to add commentary…It’s all good. And we will build the connections…

    • Rayne says:

      Whoa…that Simile is pure coolness. Might take me a little parsing if the Excel conversion doesn’t work well, but a tab-delimited upload will be fine with me.

      Thanks for that legwork!

  36. eyesonthestreet says:

    Trying to see the forest for the trees to all of this sudden transparency on the part of the super secretive bunch in the WH, could it be to save face? This country looks about ready to go into a recession, regardless of today’s smokescreen on mortgage balilout- and seeing that the power brokers are themselves in deep shit, are not likely to find ways to fund more wars, thus the sudden discovery of Iran’s submissiveness and a way out the back door for WH- saving face along the way.

    Because as I recall, the NIE on Iraq had the same type of ambiguities with regard to WMD that we see this week with Iran, although then, the WH could not wait to spend all of the surpluses built up over the last 8 years.

  37. TheraP says:

    They have a program to help people. But no way to really get it to them. The program is a smokescreen too!

    Yes, there’s a huge, huge problem bushco has created in the world economy. And I agree, there’s no way for them to really control the forces they have set in motion. They have become like the Katrina people… except they created the storm and there’s nobody to rescue them.

    As for the cooperation going on here. It reminds me of tpm threads at their best!

    It is thrilling to take part in something where people are giving of their time.. for the sole purpose of trying to make their country better.

    It gives me hope. At least for today.

  38. TheraP says:

    Re @98:

    When I say “they have a program to help people,” I am referring to the so-called mortgage rate freeze. Yes, they’ve agreed to do that – for certain people. But how to find the people? How to sort for who deserve that? Etc.

    I’ve read that it’s not possible to implement the program, even though they have it out there… they’ve helped, you see… even if you can’t figure out how to access the help!

  39. eyesonthestreet says:

    Can I assume “the timeline” link will be added to the above post as an update, or better yet, as a side bar at “Emptywheel” homepage?

    Three things I miss:
    1) the list of “Recent Posts” in right margin
    2) the ability to go onto the newer and old posts without having to return to the main page
    3) the old “reload” button at the end of comments(so you don’t have to relaod the whole page) as the previous FDL page used to have.

  40. SunnyNobility says:

    Week of Feb 19, 07 Cheney went on a 9 day trip. Reported: Japan, Australia, Guam, Pakistan, Oman & Afghanistan. Feb 26, surprise visit to
    Pakistan accompanied by dep dir CIA, Steve Kapas. This was the claimed assassination attempt trip (Afghanistan-Taliban), also the blood-clot trip (clot reported 5 March). He was to be on blood thinners for at least 2 months.

    May 9, 07 Cheney appears in Baghdad w/new Ambassador Ryan Crocker. Pissed about upcoming 2 month parliament recess. Said he was going to Abu Dhabi. Dau Liz flew separately to UAE. He also went to England on this trip.

    What was important enough for Dick to risk this second flight while still recovering from flight induced blood clot?

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Wow, that is interesting. Why on earth would anyone with a blood clot be at high altitude. True, there are clotting drugs (and I’m guessing they were checking his blood frequently to assess clotting factors and refine the meds), but that is quite a piece of info. Even for a hard-driving personality, long flights can be risky And for a man with a history of heart attacks…? Seems odd.

      FWIW the ‘refresh button’ on comments probably only shows up if a reader is logged in. if not logged in, it may not show. Also, it may show better on some browsers (and browser versions) than on others. Different browsers read and display page features in different ways.

  41. Rayne says:

    rOTL — thanks, good point there. I forgot about the contract that the Hunts signed in Kurdish territory some time back, should post that in there, too. Hunts must have felt comfortable and not in fear of whatever was going to happen.

    I’m still wondering why they wanted to build a pipeline from northeastern Iraq all the way west to a seaport in Israel, rather than run one north-south inside Irag to an Iraqi port. Just seems fishy.

  42. Leen says:

    Sy Hersh told Wolf Blitzer “It’s not over yet, there is still Israel” they are very angry about this
    report and may pre-emptively attack Iran.

    Sy Hersh with Wolf

    Justin Raimando one of the only reporters who will write about Israel’s reaction to NIE


    December 7, 2007
    Iran: Why Won’t We Take Yes For An Answer?
    Israel’s amen corner tries to spin the NIE report