SADDAM’S NUKES….Back in October, as you may recall, the administration put together a National Intelligence Estimate that concluded that Saddam Hussein was actively reconstituting his nuclear program. Of course, there was also a now-infamous footnote saying that there was some disagreement over this, but the Bush administration has argued that the disagreement was from only one source, the State Department, and everyone else signed on to this conclusion.

In particular, that conclusion was supported by the Department of Energy, considered the primary expert in technical issues regarding nuclear proliferation. Today, though, via Josh Marshall, comes an article by Paul Sperry of WorldNetDaily suggesting that DOE wasn’t really on board after all:

Thomas Rider, as acting director of Energy’s intelligence office, overruled senior intelligence officers on his staff in voting for the position at a National Foreign Intelligence Board meeting at CIA headquarters last September.

….”Senior folks in the office wanted to join INR [the State Department’s intelligence arm] on the footnote, and even wanted to write it with them, so the footnote would have read, ‘Energy and INR,’” one official said. “But when they were arguing about it at the pre-brief, Rider told them to ‘shut up and sit down.’”

….”The debate over whether Baghdad was trying to acquire nuclear weapons pretty much came down to the [aluminum] tubes,” said one Energy official. “Yet even though DOE voted against the tubes, Rider still argued that the program was being reconstituted.”

“But if the tubes are out, and if the African search for uranium is out, and if all the construction activity at the old nuclear sites turned out to be nothing, then what’s the evidence?” he said. “It was just taken on faith.”

And Rider’s reward for shutting up his technical analysts and playing along? A $13,000 bonus in February “for exceeding performance expectations as head of the intelligence office.”

That makes sense only if “performance” was defined as supporting the president’s views, as opposed to actually providing intelligence that was correct. Maybe somebody should ask for that bonus back.

POSTSCRIPT: It’s worth mentioning, perhaps, that unlike Josh I do check out WorldNetDaily periodically. Yeah, it’s run by a nutball, but every once in a while they come up with something interesting. This is a case in point.

UPDATE: In comments, Apostropher gets right to the heart of the matter:

It’s the little details that are the most damning here. Rider served as acting intelligence chief for nine months, stepping down in February just before the invasion was launched. Prior to that, he was an HR manager with no intelligence experience. So, he was installed as intelligence chief at the beginning of Bush’s march to war, overruled the guys who have spent their careers assessing these sorts of situations and knew the administration’s nuke claims were pure crap, got paid twenty large, and then stepped down once the war was a fait accompli.

Hmmm, maybe he should start writing this blog….

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