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Omestad on NIE: A Level Approach

Regardless of the politicizing tone and direction of the MSNBC host's questions and the wording of the lower third banner directing attention to the President rather than the Iranian program, US News and World Report's Thomas Omestad delivers a level assessment of the NIE and its impact.

It is impossible to disagree with Omestad's China reference, as the NIE has given China (and others) an easy out to escape their reluctant support for Iran sanctions. I said as much yesterday as well, and included with China Russia, IAEA Director ElBaradei and, of course, Iran at National Review Online yesterday.

The short-sightedness of this NIE - particularly in making it public - is precisely the evaporation of any Chinese and Russian support for sanctions - the kind of diplomatic pressure the NIE itself credits with what they describe as Iran's decision to cease its nuclear weapons program.

Does anyone remember the surprise Iranian IRGC officer who was captured or defected in Turkey last year? And the firing of Larijani as Iran's chief nuclear negotiator? And Ahmadinejad's recent not-so-empty threats aimed at "traitors" who betray the Iranian nuclear program?

I do. And I wondered then as I wonder now if that defector was not a counter-intel move by Iran, and if that defector was not the source of the NIE data in question.

Somewhere, there is a fine spy novel in all of this. The question is, how far would it be from fiction to history using the points thus far to construct?