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.


  1. josephdietrich says

    Were this Administration less hubristic and I more conspiracy-minded, I’d be tempted to believe that this NIE was a method of de-escalating the Iranian situation while not appearing to give ground. Talking tough, but letting your more level-headed friends drag you away from the fight in which you just might not be able to pull off without a lot of pain. It’s an incompetent method, but that would be par for the course. But just thinking about it while writing this comment tells me that this is simply idle speculation unsupported by any evidence.

  2. Delia says

    “Delia – What would Nietzche say?”

    Not being Nietzsche, I can only guess. Something about the degeneration of the Superman concept in mass culture. He once did say that the Germans drank too much beer, read too many newspapers and listened to too much Wagner. So I think you could update the general ideas to us.

  3. A Random Quote says

    “Jonah, the purpose of this NIE is to prevent Bush from using military force during the remainder of his term to destroy Iran’s nuclear weapons program.”
    ~Cliff May
    The Corner

  4. Comment says

    Bush at his Press show today told all listeners about Candy Crowley passing a virus around on the airplane. It was impossible to not think of Taibbi’s disgusting anecdote.

  5. Hunter says

    re: tv… the wire is so unbelievably excellent that words fail. season 4 is out on DVD this week, and season 5 is on starting Jan.

  6. Comment says

    re Tweety just made fun of Norman Hsu’s name – Making fun of Asian names is a true sign of a low class mind at work. HRC is no saint, but she has zero culpability on this.

  7. Anon says

    The NIE is bad news for Bush – mildly. But worse for McCain (less so for Rudy because of the complex psychosis advanced by his patrons). Who does Tweety think it hurts? Yeah – Hillary. Actually, HRC could make use of this precisely because the stakes are low. But she has to spin quick.

    Here is a limited defense of Bell Curve psychometrics – Note how Matt Y points out Cheney’s did not lie. Not at all – but it’s all cleverly done in a way that Tweety and Biden would miss:

  8. Delia says

    The pop drama trend in superheroes with special powers as a means to save us from ourselves is itself a phenomenon worthy of note. Jack Bauer himself is basically a superhero. The dramas, like our culture, eventually implode, though they’re diverting while they last.

    Too bad. I also enjoyed Heroes last season on popcorn level. This year I fell to imagining the writers sitting around brainstorming to come up with bizarre new powers. Now they’ve given up and are letting the viewers design the new “heroes.” What would Nietzsche say?

  9. Comment says

    We never watched Heroes because we saw the ads for the show and it looked bad. Glad we were right. Most of the stuff on Youtube is crap, but that’s to be expected. We have some familiarity with the Indie film scene (it’s a scene – primarily) and so much of the dreck it produces.
    This is all so unfortunate – Man cannot survice on White Shadow re-runs for long.

  10. Comment says

    Harry Reid would only misuse an NIE in his rhetoric – while Warlord and Bypass misused the last one to fundamentally mislead the country to help get votes for war.

    We think this NIE will actually free up candidates to be more bellicose re Iran , since it’s all the more meaningless words words words. Especially if Bush won’t strike – then words have even less consequence. Sort of like JFK talking up the missle gap when there was no missle gap and then, years later, Team B types talking up the power of the Sovs.

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