There are already questions running around about who knew what when. Some on the left were quick to say that this information had been available up to a year ago and the Bush administration sat on it, with Bush all the while taking to the stump and declaring the onset of World War 3 in the form of Tehran. While that would certainly make sense, there are also indications from the Right wing that the report wasn't official and ready for prime time until last week. Ed Morrissey takes this position.
In effect, the President and his team got confirmation of this information less than five days before it hit the papers. The conspiracy theorists who insisted yesterday that the White House kept it secret have to now explain why the administration so quickly published the findings. Is this a conspiracy to discredit conspiracy theorists?
What Ed is referring to is the fact that the report was ready some time ago, but since it seemed to be so contrary to previous reports that we spent a significant period of time trying to "shoot holes in it" to make sure it was accurate before going public. On the one hand, you have give some credence to this position. Having learned what we did from the Iraq invasion debacle, we don't want to go rushing in any direction without knowing how good our intel is.
However, while the information was being subjected to the acid test, Bush was still saber rattling against Tehran while knowing that this was in the pipeline. I can't imagine this news sat well with the real war instigators, and I found myself wondering if Dick Cheney found out about this at the same time as his last heart attack?
If nothing else, this report should put the brakes on some of the first strike advocates' efforts. None of this means that we shouldn't continue to take Iran seriously and continue diplomatic work there with vigor, but starting a shooting war with them would almost undoubtedly lead to a global disaster.