First a cartoon.
By concluding that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program four years ago, the national intelligence estimate released yesterday undermined a key element of President Bush's foreign policy. It raised questions about whether the president and vice president knowingly misled the public about the danger posed by Iran. And it added to Bush's profound credibility problems with the American people and the international community.
But to hear Bush talk about it at the White House press conference this morning, the new NIE vindicated his beliefs and makes his warnings about Iran more potent.
It was neck-snapping spin even by Bush standards. He intentionally misread the report's central point, failed to acknowledge a huge change in his argument for why Iran is dangerous and exhibited pure bullheaded stubbornness. ....
The apparent change in Bush's red line for Iran -- no longer the possession or even the pursuit of nuclear weapons but the knowledge of how to make them -- is highly reminiscent of the linguistic contortions Bush executed after it was established that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction. Hours before sending American troops into Iraq, Bush had expressed"no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised." But by late 2004, he shifted to justifying the invasion because Hussein "retained the knowledge, the materials, the means, and the intent to produce weapons of mass destruction."