Worth Noting (Updated With Non-Sequitur Addendum)

Normally/historically, the Stiftung never really cared that much about NIEs. A dirty secret? The old DCIs often parked/shunted aside less than stellar people by detailing them to the National Intelligence Council. NIEs have only become truly sexy and politically potent the last 7 years with a few exceptions. And NIEs (except for the nearly pornographic October 2002 example) are typically written in a fashion similar to a Wall Street opinion letter for a transaction such as an LBO or asset-back financing: with enough carve outs, caveats and contingent penumbras that no matter what actually transpired the drafters would be able to produce language saying “See, we were right on top of it.” We won’t even go into the savage battles to bury divergent views into footnotes almost invariably never read (unfortunately, because often the footnotes are the most interesting and reveaiing). Theoretically, things are different now. So they say.

OK, it is important to note that the new NIE on Tehran abandoning the military nuclear program uses the barometer “high confidence”. One presumes after the October 2002 fiasco, a unanimous NIE on this topic is closer to sound as a pound than before. Even so, let’s now move on.

NIEs are never intended nor should be allowed to dictate policy outcomes. It is an assessment. Nothing more. Just as it is as wrong for Cheney and Bush to misuse a NIE so too with Harry Reid or the Opposition. We won’t go into a lengthy rote detailing of the intelligence cycle (it was done on STSOZ 1.0 — search there for intelligence cycle). Intelligence provides processed information for the policy customer/consumer. Intelligence never should weigh in on policy or dictate policy. We’re Old Skool on that one. So in the scheme of things, we don’t think this particular NIE necessarily will foreclose the Warlord’s thinking on the subject. Policy makers are not bound by the intelligence community (whether unanimous or not) nor should they be.

The above is not disagreement with the alleged NIE contents. Or support (heaven forbid) of the Warlord’s regime. Long time readers know that we concluded back in early 2006 that we would not see Iranian strikes — because of Iraq, igniting further regional dynamics, insufficient intelligence on the entire nuclear infrastructure and the inevitable explosion of Persian nationalism. This NIE confirms the Iranian standown in the equation. Our own assessment of the *policy* constraints remains unchanged. Perhaps your mileage varies.


Not Worth Noting

Tonight NBC’s wretched series “Heroes” dissolved in a Frankenstein-esque pastishe of ideas tossed together because of the writers’ strike. Here, the strike makes no difference this sophomore season. Almost everything that made its debut last year so much fun cavalierly tossed overboard. Back when record companies meant something, albums were albums, A&R men and women would ply disc jockeys with money and coke. There was also a music ndustry jinx — the so-called “sophomore slump”. Bands with bit hit debut albums sometimes followed it up with a turkey. To be avoided at all costs.

Heroes got nailed by that jinx televison-wise big time. Some of the random programming on YouTube shows better pacing, character development and arc development. We became fans last year because of the clever reveals of secrets — it was the anti-Lost — big secrets would be exposed every other week like a roller coaster. Plus it packed a joyous celebration of the current J-Pop/American-Pop fused sensibilites. Now? If the show never came back the Stiftung would not miss it — the so called “wham!” surprises tonight (the season ‘finale’) merely clumsy, contrived and mechanical. We believe this show’s nose dive is more steep than 24’s calamitous (and unintentionally hilarious) last season. Heroes’ creator, Tim Kring, also is an unlikely pilot to pull out a miracle recovery.

Let it crash. The Stiftung gives Heroes just one and a half Leos out of five.