In a speech on March 12, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell said: “All future NIEs will not have unclassified key judgments if I’m persuasive enough among the decision makers.” It seems now that McConnell was indeed persuasive.
Yesterday, Congress received the latest updates to the National Intelligence Estimate on the situation in Iraq, but “according to congressional sources…the findings will likely stay secret.”
Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Analysis Thomas Fingar said last month that the assessment would be the product of a new, more stringent process in which the findings would be, as reported by the Washington Post, “subjected to special internal reviews before they are finished, during which the reliability of each source of information will be examined anew.” The Post also reported that, for the forthcoming NIE on trends in Iraq, “some information supplied for the assessment was withdrawn after the special scrutiny.”
But now it appears that the American public won’t be able to see any of it. As Spencer Ackerman notes, “On the eve of Gen. David Petraeus and Amb. Ryan Crocker’s Capitol Hill testimony next week, it would be helpful to know how the U.S. intelligence community measures progress/backsliding along the same metrics as it did nine months ago.”
Given the Bush administration’s pattern of selectively releasing intelligence when it supports their arguments, the decision not to declassify the new Iraq assessment suggests there may be information about Iraq that doesn’t reflect well on Bush’s policies.