Why Was the NIE Released?….Part 2

WHY WAS THE NIE RELEASED?….PART 2….Three weeks ago DNI Mike McConnell said flatly that he didn’t plan to make public any of the key findings from the upcoming National Intelligence Estimate on Iran’s nuclear program. Today, in a move that took everyone by surprise, the key judgments were released. Why?

Earlier today I speculated that it might have been due to congressional pressure. Spencer Ackerman doesn’t think so:

An aide to Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), the chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, says that Rockefeller — the obvious culprit in any Senatorial intelligence push — didn’t press McConnell to release the NIE’s key judgments. Rockefeller’s House counterpart, Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX), released a statement today saying that he wants to be “fully informed about the classified sources upon which this estimate is based” and that he will “review areas where certain agencies dissent.” That sounds like a man in the dark about the NIE.

Elsewhere, Joe Klein writes that he just spoke with a “senior U.S. intelligence official” who provided him with a little bit of background about the NIE’s conclusion that Iran had stopped work on its nuclear bomb program four years ago:

  1. the NIE was made with a “high” degree of certainty, which means there was more than one information stream confirming it.

  2. our “collection” capability within Iran has improved considerably over the past few years.

Klein speculates that it “may be that the intelligence community was waiting for the definitive information that made this a ‘high’ degree of certainty estimate rather than a ‘moderate’ degree estimate.”

Maybe. That could explain the delay, but not why McConnell changed his mind. That’s still a mystery.