The media, from what I can tell, have now at least three (maybe four) theories or reasons as to why the NIE has changed its position on Iran.
If you read the USA TODAY, it’s “News photos contributed to reassessment of Iran.”
If you read the Washington Post, it’s “intercepted calls between Iranian military commanders, that steadily chipped away at the earlier assessment.”
If you read the Washington Times, it is speculated that “a senior Iranian official, Ali Rez Asgari, defected to the West during a visit to Turkey in February and disclosed new information about the program.”
If you read the NYT, it’s “new information obtained from covert sources over the summer had led to a reassessment of the state of Iran’s nuclear program.”
Maybe it’s all of this, and the NIE used all of this intelligence in their new assessment. That would not be discouraging frankly. BUT if the media is going to be on attack for the administration getting so much wrong on Iran’s program, might they themselves find a uniform theory of their story line as to why the administration was so wrong? It’s one story after all.
How many papers do we have to read to get the story right?
And finally, does nobody want to pick up on VDH’s observation in “The Corner” that there is one obvious elephant in the room? If Iran shut its program down in the fall of 2003 MIGHT, MIGHT, MIGHT it have anything to do with it noticing that the US militarily took out its neighbor (another enemy of the U.S.) earlier that year for, among other things, having a concealed WMD program?