Predicting the future is often a fool’s game. But sometimes certain patterns emerge, and the first person to spot them and act on them is considered a genius. With that in mind, let me sum up the past, then whip out the crystal ball and prognosticate a little:
1) The intelligence agencies prepare a National Intelligence Estimate on the situation in
2) The conclusions are carefully balanced and neutral, giving evidence supporting both the war-supporting side and the war-opposing side.
3) The report is classified by the war-supporting president.
4) The war-opposing side leaks the portions of the summary conclusions that support their side.
5) The president, to counter the charges that he is suppressing the document because it doesn’t support his side, releases the entire summary conclusions section.
6) The war-opposing side charges the president with “playing politics” with national security, demands the entire report be declassified.
7) The president, citing concerns that the entire report reveals “sources and methods,” the most guarded elements of intelligence (detailing just how we know what we know, who’s telling us what, and the capabilities and limitations of our most prized technologies), refuses.
Within the next week or so, key elements of the actual report will be released. These will be the portions that lend weight to the anti-war side. There will be attempts to conceal and/or redact the most sensitive information, but it will be done quite clumsily and reveal far more about our abilities — and limitations — than any sane person thinks reasonable.
And, of course, there will be no calls for investigations into who leaked the report from the mainstream media.