That's the sound of all the air escaping from the beltway's War on Iran balloon.
Update: Charlie, here. There's a fair amount of tea leaf reading going on about when the NIE was originally produced and why it was released now. Kevin Drum says it was Congressional pressure:
Democratic members of the various intelligence committees saw the NIE (or a summary or a verbal report or something) and went ballistic. Footnotes and dissents are one thing, but withholding a report whose primary conclusion is 180 degrees contrary to years of administration innuendo produced a rebellion. Somebody who got briefed must have threatened something pretty serious if the NIE didn't see the light of day.
Joe Klein doesn't disagree, but says,
it also may be that the intelligence community was waiting for the definitive information that made this a "high" degree of certainty estimate rather than a "moderate" degree estimate.
But what really has Charlie riled up is the possibility (probability?) that Drum is right on this:
This NIE was apparently finished a year ago, and its basic parameters were almost certainly common knowledge in the White House well before that. This means that all the leaks, all the World War III stuff, all the blustering about the IAEA — all of it was approved for public consumption after Cheney/Bush/Rice/etc. knew perfectly well it was mostly baseless.
Awesome. Love the OVP. It's really irritating when entire offices of the US government have beliefs that are totally not falsifiable. Would anything convince them that Iran and put its weapons program on the back burner? No? Bugger.