“Welcome to the real world,” said the national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, to the media at a press conference last month. He was attempting to explain to them why the difficulties of intelligence-gathering ought to be understood as denying them the opportunity presented by the new National Intelligence Estimate on the Iranian nuclear threat for yet another cheap triumph at the expense of the Bush administration. He would have known in advance that the media don’t know, or at least pretend not to know, that intelligence changes all the time without any chargeable error to, let alone wrong-doing by, those who are responsible for collecting it or acting on it. The certainty that the news would be treated as yet another blow to the administration’s much battered “credibility” must have been behind the decision by someone in its press or political office to try to get out in front of the breaking story by ...


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