NO CONFIDENCE….Fred Kaplan (unsurprisingly) picks up on something I missed about our intelligence turnaround on North Korea’s uranium enrichment program:
Why are senior officials suddenly saying that North Korea might not have an enriched-uranium program? No new information has come to light on the issue. They are saying this for one reason: President Bush recently agreed to a nuclear deal with the North Koreans; the deal says nothing about enriched uranium (it requires them only to freeze their plutonium-bomb program); so, in order to stave off the flood of criticism from Bush’s conservative base, senior officials are saying that the enriched uranium was never a big deal to begin with.
….In October 2002, when Bush was looking for any excuse to back out of the Agreed Framework, senior officials said the evidence of enriched uranium was strong.
Now, four and a half years later, when Bush is looking for reasons to justify a deal that’s remarkably similar to the Agreed Framework (except it’s not quite as tight, and the North Koreans have since become a nuclear-armed nation), senior officials are saying the evidence of enriched uranium is weak.
The evidence has always been ambiguous. Before, they hyped it to justify what they wanted to do. Now, they’re downplaying it to justify what they’ve done.
Kaplan is pissed: “[This] shows that Bush and his people will say anything, no matter whether it’s true, in order to shore up a political point. It means that U.S. intelligence has become completely corrupted.” I’m not sure this is really news at this point, but he’s right that this is an unsually bald demonstration of the point.