Moreover, NIEs even on the best days are fairly 50,000 foot kind of documents and hedged (even when not obvious). Imagine a Wall Street opinion letter on a multi-billion dollar leveraged buyout and you get the idea. Unfortunately, many think a NIE reads like the White House directed (and slanted) Executive Summary festooned ontop of the incompetent and rushed October 2002 NIE. Far from it.
An actual NIE — unlike the WH Executive Summary — strives for majesterial tour d'horizon tone. Even if the topic is specific. The White House and its allies are gambling that releasing the entire dry document will defuse the political value of this leak. They are likely correct. If the whole NIE is released don't expect anything more than bland. And bland favors them at the moment. It will be like trying to nail jello to a wall.
The real interest is seeing how the NIE sparks the Neocons to rage once more at the Agency. Micheal Rubin, a youngling in training at AEI after a stint in OSD and a fly-in with the CPA, rages at the CIA again. How he knows the NIE leak came from the CIA is never addressed.
NIEs are the consensus judgment of the entire unwieldly official government intelligence community, currently 16 institutions strong. (We just note that much of the intelligence community since 2001 is also dependent on outsourced government contractors). At the head sits John Negroponte's DNI bloated staff. The legislation that created the DNI also gave Negroponte the power to direct and supervise NIE creation, removing it from CIA. The primacy of analytical function no longer resides at the Agency's Directorate of Intelligence. Not to mention that Michael Hayden, Negroponte's former deputy, is now the Director over there. Why Rubin gives State's INR, the Pentagon's DIA, etc. and countless others a pass is also unexplained.
Rubin by demonizing the leak also seeks to divert attention for the apparently unanimous opinion of the community in the leaked excerpt. Apparently there were no dissenting footnotes. Neocon AgitProp is much less effective when it can no longer plausibly be directed at a specific target, in this case the CIA, but against reality itself.
But Rubin does hint at something the politically sensitive Negroponte should keep in mind. The long standing Neocon hatred (and it is hatred) for the Agency is ending its political usefulness — simply because it is not tenable given the Agency's shrunken status. He warns Negroponte and Pat Kennedy “to do something” about these “CIA leaks” or face AgitProp mau mau. Easy to do, just change the macro from CIA to DNI. Presto.
Update Dubya is declassifying allegedly the key judgments. This White House continues to play varsity political ball. Smart move for them. Nips the story in the bud and gets it out of the way for October.