A new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq is scheduled to be completed this month. Yet intelligence officials are still debating whether or not to make the key judgments public, as they did with the most recent report on Iran.
During today’s White House press briefing, a reporter asked spokeswoman Dana Perino whether the White House supports keeping the new NIE classified. Perino said that the decision will ultimately be up to the intelligence community, but added, “Obviously, this White House has been very forthcoming in putting forward NIEs, as we’ve all been familiar with over the past several years.” Watch it:
In reality, however, the White House has been less than forthcoming with the NIEs. Some highlights:
— In an internal memo last October, DNI Mike McConnell said that he believes NIEs “should not be declassified.” [Link]
— Vice President Cheney’s office attempted to manipulate the last NIE on Iran. A draft was reportedly completed in 2006, but the White House rejected it because it contained dissenting views. A former intelligence officer said, “They refused to come out with a version that had dissenting views in it.” [Link]
— Regarding the most recent NIE on Iran, former CIA officer Philip Giraldi said that “intelligence analysts have had to review and rewrite their findings three times, because of pressure from the White House.” [Link]
— After the key judgments of the Iran NIE were declassified, the White House quickly attempted to discredit them. In meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Bush said that the NIE’s conclusions on Iran “didn’t reflect his own views.” [Link]
— Prior to the Iraq war, the Air Force, Energy Department, and State Department all issued dissenting views on the state of Iraq’s progress towards a nuclear program. The White House, however, ignored these views and pushed inaccurate stories about Iraq’s alleged WMD. [Link, Link, Link]
Q Do you support keeping the new NIE on Iraq classified, or do you think Americans should know what’s going on?
MS. PERINO: That’s a decision that’s made, as you read in the report today, that the national intelligence community gets together, all 16 of them, and they make a determination and a judgment — and I don’t have a comment on it today.
Q Well, what is the view of the White House?
MS. PERINO: Look, I haven’t seen that — I don’t know what’s in the report. I leave it to the judgment of the intelligence community. Obviously, this White House has been very forthcoming in putting forward NIEs, as we’ve all been familiar with over the past several years.