This Wall Street Journal editorial is hysterical — starting with the title —
This latest intelligence fiasco is Mr. Bush’s fault.
President Bush has been scrambling to rescue his Iran policy after this week’s intelligence switcheroo, but the fact that the White House has had to spin so furiously is a sign of how badly it has bungled this episode.
At this point I was wondering if I were really reading the Wall Street Journal. Since when had the WSJ editorial page actually owned up to reality? But the next sentence put my mind at ease.
In sum, Mr. Bush and his staff have allowed the intelligence bureaucracy to frame a new judgment in a way that has undermined four years of U.S. effort to stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Yep; this is the WSJ editorial page we know and love to snark at.
This kind of national security mismanagement has bedeviled the Bush Presidency. Recall the internal disputes over post-invasion Iraq, the smearing of Ahmad Chalabi by the State Department and CIA, hanging Scooter Libby out to dry after bungling the response to Joseph Wilson’s bogus accusations, and so on. Mr. Bush has too often failed to settle internal disputes and enforce the results.
It’s sad, really. The Warmongering Right really did get away with creating its own reality, for a while. With the help of compulsive pleasers like George Tenet they created a world in which no one told them anything they didn’t want to hear. Now they want to believe the intelligence agencies deceived the Bush Administration with false intelligence on Iraq, but the truth is that the Bush Administration made it clear that the only products they would accept from Intelligence were those that confirmed their beliefs. Intelligence complied, and gave the Bushies what they wanted, and then took the blame when it all turned out wrong.
Oddly, after this some of them decided the Bushies’ games were no fun, and they would not play them any more.
Today the righties are taking comfort in a Rasmussen Poll that says only 18 percent of American voters believe Iran has stopped its nuclear weapons programs. The Dream (of bombing “the daylights out of Iranâ€™s nuclear facilities and terrorism-supporting infrastructure“) is not dead! The American People are still with them!
Maybe not. A USA Today/Gallup Poll taken November 2-4 says that only 18 percent of Americans support military action against Iran. I assume we’re not looking at the same 18 percent.
The Wall Street Journal remains gloomy:
We reported earlier this week that the authors of this Iran NIE include former State Department officials who have a history of hostility to Mr. Bush’s foreign policy. But the ultimate responsibility for this fiasco lies with Mr. Bush. Too often he has appointed, or tolerated, officials who oppose his agenda, and failed to discipline them even when they have worked against his policies. Instead of being candid this week about the problems with the NIE, Mr. Bush and his National Security Adviser, Stephen Hadley, tried to spin it as a victory for their policy. They simply weren’t believable.
It’s a sign of the Bush Administration’s flagging authority that even many of its natural allies wondered this week if the NIE was really an attempt to back down from its own Iran policy. We only wish it were that competent.
Clearly, the Washington bureaucracy is running short of toadies willing to sell out their country for the sake of an unpopular Administration that will be gone in 13 months. How odd.
See also Ewen MacAskill, “Intelligence expert who rewrote book on Iran” in today’s Guardian.