RUSH: The big news today: ‘The National Intelligence Estimate is concluding that Iran’s nuclear program, its weapons development program, has been halted since the fall of 2003 because of international pressure.’ Come on! This NIE business, there are 16 different agencies, they’re all over the lot with each report that they issue, and it says here: ‘This is a stark contrast to the conclusions US spy agencies drew just two years ago. The finding is part of a National Intelligence Estimate on Iran that also cautions that Tehran continues to enrich uranium and could still develop a bomb between 2010 and 2015 if it decided to do so.’ So what’s changed? If you are enriching uranium, you are enriching uranium. Anyway, the Drive-Bys are all over this, the libs are all over this, the Democrats are all over this, as yet another Bush failure, a Bush failure of intelligence, and, of course, we here at the EIB Network have an entirely different view of this. Let’s go to the audio sound bites first. The president had a press conference today, first one in about seven weeks, and Terry Hunt, the AP, got it started with the questions about the NIE report. ‘Do the new findings take the military option you’ve talked about for Iran off the table, Mr. President?’
THE PRESIDENT: Here’s what we know. We know that they’re still trying to learn how to enrich uranium. I think it is very important for the international community to recognize the fact that, if Iran were to develop the knowledge that they could transfer to a clandestine program, it would create a danger for the world. And so I view this report as a warning signal that they had the program, they halted the program.
RUSH: And now David Gregory’s question. ‘I’d like to follow on that. When you talked about Iraq, you and others in the administration talked about a mushroom cloud. Then there were no WMD in Iraq. When it came to Iran, you said on October 17th, you warned about the prospect of World War III, when, months before you made that statement, this intelligence about them suspending their weapons program back in ’03 had already come to light in this administration. So can’t you be accused of hyping this threat? And don’t you worry that that undermines US credibility?’
THE PRESIDENT: It wasn’t until last week that I was briefed on the NIE that is now public. And the second part of your question has to do with this: Iran was dangerous, Iran is dangerous, and Iran will be dangerous if they have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon. What’s to say they couldn’t start another covert nuclear weapons program? And the best way to ensure that the world is peaceful in the future is for the international community to continue to work together, to say to the Iranians, ‘We’re going to isolate you.’ However, there is a better way forward for the Iranians.
RUSH: So Bret Baier of Fox News Channel says, ‘Are you saying that this NIE will not lead to a change in US policy toward Iran or a shift in focus?’
THE PRESIDENT: I’m saying that I believe before the NIE that Iran was dangerous, and I believe after the NIE that Iran is dangerous, and I believe now is the time for the world to do the hard work necessary to convince the Iranians there is a better way forward. Our policy remains the same. I see a danger, and many in the world see the same danger. This report is not a ‘Okay, everybody needs to relax and quit’ report. This is a report that says what has happened in the past could be repeated, and that the policies used to cause the regime to halt are effective policies, and let’s keep them up, let’s continue to work together.
RUSH: Exactly right. You know, the Drive-Bys here are simply seeing blood in the water because their narrative, their template on Bush is he’s a liar, he makes things up, and nothing he says is ever true, and he’s a warmonger, and all he wants to do is take the nation to war, get out of Iraq, when we win and go into Iran and keep the whole thing going, and now they think Iran is no threat. ‘The NIE, Mr. President, the NIE says they stopped their program in 2003.’ They are still enriching uranium. Such a narrow focus these people have. And, of course, their view of this issue is not Iran. You have to understand this. The Drive-Bys are not at all influenced, they’re not even interested in what Iran is or isn’t doing. Their total view of this through the prism of domestic politics and does it hurt Bush, can we make it hurt Bush, and that’s their agenda here with this, rather than accepting what might be a possible threat, what is a threat, there’s no question. Listen to what Ahmadinejad says! This is patently absurd.
Let’s listen to some press reaction to this. On CBS following the president’s news conference, anchor Russ Mitchell goes to the dean of CBS columnists and pundits, Bob Schieffer, says, ‘Bob Schieffer is our chief Washington correspondent. He’s the anchor of Slay the Nation. Bob, the president said he was having a good time up there, but to this observer and to others in the room, he didn’t look like he was having a good time.’ I watched him. I thought he was enjoying himself. I was doing show prep here and listening to the TV when not watching it, and I hear a bunch of laughter emanating from the pressroom, I look over, and the president is chuckling and laughing with these people. One Drive-By, Mark Silva, said, ‘I can’t help but read your body language this morning, Mr. President. You seem a little dispirited.’ I didn’t see a dispirited president. I saw somebody professional, and somber, and sober when it was called for, and yukking it up and laughing at other times. Anyway, ‘Bob, the president said he was having a good time up there, but to this observer and to others in the room, he didn’t look like he was having a good time. Despite his resolve, what are you hearing, Bob? Is this an embarrassment for the administration?’
SCHIEFFER: I think it’s more than an embarrassment, Russ. I think it’s very disturbing, because listen to what the president just said on the record. He said more than three years ago Iran had shut down its nuclear weapons program. We did not apparently realize that something was changing until this summer, and we were not certain of it and the president was not told of it until last week. This raises questions about the credibility of all these reports.
RUSH: And that is an excellent point, folks. There is a problem with our intelligence capabilities, no question about it. We can thank decades of attacks and funding problems against the CIA, the DIA, and other intelligence agencies spearheaded by liberals in Congress and started during the Nixon era. This is the consequence of those efforts. All of these years later, the CIA has been and is, to certain leftists, enemy number one. The Church committee back in the Nixon era did everything it could to emasculate the CIA, to expose it, and to make sure that nothing it did remained secret. It was disastrous, the funding problems that they have incurred. And now you’ve got within the CIA itself, as the Plame incident illustrates, you’ve got a bunch of holdover, activist liberals disguised as spies and bureaucrats in the CIA who have, as you have in the State Department, whose avowed purpose is to cause damage to this administration. So the idea that attacks on our intelligence agencies have had no impact? They clearly have.
I hate to inform the Drive-Bys of this, but the president does not create the intelligence. He is provided the intelligence, and he makes overarching policy decisions based on the intelligence. Having said that, the fact is that the media have it all wrong today. Bush shouldn’t be apologetic or even on defense about his aggressive positions against Iran acquiring nuclear weapons. The fact is that Iran is still taking provocative steps to build a nuclear program. All those centrifuges aren’t intended to provide air-conditioning to the people of Iran. The efforts at securing uranium are not aimed at providing gasoline for cars. If the NIE was faulty before, why is it assumed that it’s right today? I ask this of the libs. Do you realize how selectively you believe this stuff? You believe this stuff as selectively as you believe your own polling data. When the NIE comes out and you can look at it through a political prism of, ‘Hmm, does this damage Bush? Does this fit our template that Bush is a liar, he’s a warmonger, he makes it all up? Yes, fine, then we’ll believe it.’ But there have been a number of NIE releases in previous years that have turned out to be bummers, turned out to be wrong, and, of course, nobody ever goes back and talks about those.
They just live in the moment, and the moment now is destroy Bush, even though he’s effectively just short of being into his final year as president. The obvious way to look at this, and this is not spin, who else gave up a nuclear program in 2003? Mr. Snerdley, your memory take over here? What other Middle Eastern nation decided to say no mass — Moammar Khadafy in Libya, absolutely. You think it’s an accident — if this is true — and, hell, I don’t know what’s true. But if it’s true, do you think it’s accidental or coincidental that the Iranians, seeing what we’re doing in Iraq over weapons of mass destruction there, you think they might have curtailed their program and just started huffing and puffing using a lot of words to sound big just like Saddam always did in the Middle East. He wanted to be the king of the Middle East, the king of the Arabs, he wanted to make sure that the United States and the rest of the world knew that he was the guy running that region. You think maybe it’s possible after seeing what we did in 2003 invading Iraq that the mullahs said, ‘Ah, let’s pull back on this for a while’? You think it’s possible, folks? Look at their view of us.
These people are kooks, but they think we are, too. Here they’re minding their own business, they got Saddam Hussein, and he’s not a friend of theirs, either. They’ve been at war with Iraq a number of times. Finally we go in there, we just oust Saddam in a matter of hours, and that’s what they see in 2003, and then they see the ‘mission accomplished’ banner on the aircraft carrier. They see that we were in there and able to get rid of Saddam Hussein and his two worthless kids in a matter of hours. And then we stayed. Who cares, if they think we’re nuts, if they think we’re insane, if they think Bush is a cowboy, is going to go all over the world destroying his enemies. You think that might have been a factor in them deciding, ‘You know, let’s pull back on this, we’ll keep talking about it, we’ll keep shouting because we don’t want the reps of the Arab world to think that we Iranians are cowards and so forth, but let’s actually pull back on this so that we don’t give them any actual reason to hit us.’ And then Ahmadinejad keeps promising and threatening to wipe out Israel and so forth.
You can’t ignore any of these things, and yet the Drive-Bys have such a narrow focus, ‘Let’s look at this, can we destroy Bush today with this, can we hurt the Republicans, can we drive Republicans away from Bush, can we affect the Iraq funding bills, can we maybe embolden the Democrats here to say, ‘See, the president’s lying, he doesn’t even know what’s going on, we don’t need more money for Iraq”? All of these things are wrapped up in this today, not the substance of the report.
RUSH: The major point here on this NIE, the National Intelligence Estimate, is this: the war in Iraq — the war against Iraq — has, in fact, had consequences in the Middle East beyond Iraq’s borders. If Iran stopped trying to build a bomb in 2003 — if they did that, which is what the assertion is now based on in the latest NIE intel — then they stopped because of Bush’s foreign and military policies. That is, they stopped because they feared they were next on the liberation list. They did not stop due to any diplomatic efforts, due to any redeployments out of Iraq. They did not stop, if they did. The liberals can claim no credit for this. Is it not a good thing, if it’s true, that they stopped? Somehow, this is a defeat for Bush. It stands logic on its head! Despite the propaganda here at home that we were losing, that we couldn’t defeat Saddam Hussein’s army, that we couldn’t defeat Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Iran seemed to see it differently. They saw a military power second to none that could topple their regime in months, if not weeks, and they saw a president who caused them to shake with fear. This is another victory.
I’m not just spinning here, and I’m not carrying anybody’s water. This is another victory, if the intel is right, for Bush foreign policy. But the libs are going to argue that this proves Bush is wrong. He cooked the books. We need to get out of Iraq! In other words, they’re going to take from this all of the wrong lessons, and they don’t care, either, because they’re not about learning anything. They’re about tearing down and looking for political opportunities to exploit, at least that they think they can. But the administration needs to keep the pressure on Iran for several reasons, and Bush will. I have no question about it. The intel might still be wrong. There’s evidence of that, as you all know in recent years, and, if it’s right, we don’t want Iran in a position where it has all the tools and the know-how to build a bomb, just waiting for the right time to complete it — such as when we have a Democrat in the White House. So I think we keep the sanctions up, increase them, try to topple the regime from within, be prepared to do even more militarily if necessary. Look, lest we forget, folks, the nut that runs that regime is giving safe harbor to Al-Qaeda terrorists; funding and arming Hezbollah; is giving support to Syria to do the same — and, most of all, is still sending IEDs and terrorists into Iraq to kill our soldiers and Iraqi citizens, albeit at a reduced level now.
We’re still at war with Iran, even if the war hasn’t risen to the level of a direct military confrontation, and nothing about this intelligence estimate changes a thing. My good friend Norman Podhoretz, writing in Commentary, actually the Contentions website (we’ll link to it today at RushLimbaugh.com): ‘Dark Suspicions about the NIE,’ and let me just give you the pull quote paragraph here: ‘But I entertain an even darker suspicion,’ writes Mr. Podhoretz. ‘It is that the intelligence community, which has for some years now been leaking material calculated to undermine George W. Bush, is doing it again. This time the purpose is to head off the possibility that the President may order air strikes on the Iranian nuclear installations. As the intelligence community must know, if he were to do so, it would be as a last resort, only after it had become undeniable that neither negotiations nor sanctions could prevent Iran from getting the bomb, and only after being convinced that it was very close to succeeding. How better, then, to stop Bush in his tracks than by telling him and the world that such pressures have already been effective and that keeping them up could well bring about ‘a halt to Iran’s entire nuclear weapons program’ — especially if the negotiations and sanctions were combined with a goodly dose of appeasement or, in the NIE’s own euphemistic formulation, ‘with opportunities for Iran to achieve its security, prestige, and goals for regional influence in other ways.”
Podhoretz is right on the money here, and when you read parts of this NIE report, you almost sound like you’re reading a PR release for Iran. (paraphrased) ‘We want to make sure they become a regional power, they maintain their dignity, and they can feel like really good guys without nukes.’