The only man causing President Obama more headaches than Joe Biden these days is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (who, coincidentally, was right after Biden on Obama's short-list for V.P.).
Despite Obama's personal magnetism, the Iranian president persists in moving like gangbusters to build nuclear weapons, leading to Ahmadinejad's announcement last week that Iran is now a "nuclear state."
Gee, that's weird -- because I remember being told in December 2007 that all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies had concluded that Iran had ceased nuclear weapons development as of 2003.
At the time of that leak, many of us recalled that the U.S. has the worst intelligence-gathering operations in the world. The Czechs, the French, the Italians -- even the Iraqis (who were trained by the Soviets) -- all have better intelligence.
Burkina Faso has better intelligence -- and their director of intelligence is a witch doctor. The marketing division of Wal-Mart has more reliable intel than the U.S. government does.
After Watergate, the off-the-charts left-wing Congress gleefully set about dismantling this nation's intelligence operations on the theory that Watergate never would have happened if only there had been no CIA.
Ron Dellums, a typical Democrat of the time, who -- amazingly -- was a member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, famously declared in 1975: "We should totally dismantle every intelligence agency in this country piece by piece, brick by brick, nail by nail."
And so they did.
So now, our "spies" are prohibited from spying. The only job of a CIA officer these days is to read foreign newspapers and leak classified information to The New York Times. It's like a secret society of newspaper readers. The reason no one at the CIA saw 9/11 coming was that there wasn't anything about it in the Islamabad Post.
(On the plus side, at least we haven't had another break-in at the Watergate.)
CIA agents can't spy because that might require them to break laws in foreign countries. They are perfectly willing to break U.S. laws to leak to The New York Times, but not in order to acquire valuable intelligence.
So it was curious that after months of warnings from the Bush administration in 2007 that Iran was pursuing a nuclear weapons program, a National Intelligence Estimate on Iran was leaked, concluding that Iran had ceased its nuclear weapons program years earlier.
Republicans outside of the administration went ballistic over the suspicious timing and content of the Iran-Is-Peachy report. Even The New York Times, of all places, ran a column by two outside experts on Iran's nuclear programs that ridiculed the NIE's conclusion.
Gary Milhollin of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control and Valerie Lincy of Iranwatch.org cited Iran's operation of 3,000 gas centrifuges at its plant at Natanz, as well as a heavy-water reactor being built at Arak, neither of which had any peaceful energy purpose. (If only there were something plentiful in Iran that could be used for energy!)
Weirdly, our intelligence agencies missed those nuclear operations. They were too busy reading an article in the Tehran Tattler, "Iran Now Loves Israel."
Ahmadinejad was ecstatic, calling the NIE report "a declaration of the Iranian people's victory against the great powers."
The only people more triumphant than Ahmadinejad about the absurd conclusion of our vaunted "intelligence" agencies were liberals.
In Time magazine, Joe Klein gloated that the Iran report "appeared to shatter the last shreds of credibility of the White House's bomb-Iran brigade -- and especially that of Vice President Dick Cheney."
Liberal columnist Bill Press said, "No matter how badly Bush and Cheney wanted to carpet-bomb Iran, it's clear now that doing so would have been a tragic mistake."
Naturally, the most hysterical response came from MSNBC's Keith Olbermann. After donning his mother's housecoat, undergarments and fuzzy slippers, Keith brandished the NIE report, night after night, demanding that Bush apologize to the Iranians.
"Having accused Iran of doing something it had stopped doing more than four years ago," Olbermann thundered, "instead of apologizing or giving a diplomatic response of any kind, this president of the United States chuckled."
Olbermann ferociously defended innocent-as-a-lamb Mahmoud from aspersions cast by the Bush administration, asking: "Could Mr. Bush make it any more of a mess ... in response to Iran's anger at being in some respects, at least, either overrated or smeared, his response officially chuckling, how is that going to help anything?"
Bush had "smeared" Iran!
Olbermann's even creepier sidekick, androgynous Newsweek reporter Richard Wolffe, also agreed, saying American credibility "has suffered another serious blow."
Olbermann's most macho guest, Rachel Maddow, demanded to know -- with delightful originality -- "what the president knew and when he knew it." This was on account of Bush's having disparaged the good name of a messianic, Holocaust-denying nutcase, despite the existence of a cheery report on Iran produced by our useless intelligence agencies.
Olbermann, who knows everything that's on the Daily Kos and nothing else, called those who doubted the NIE report "liars" and repeatedly demanded an investigation into when Bush knew about the NIE's laughable report.
Even if you weren't aware that the U.S. has the worst intelligence in the world, and even if you didn't notice that the leak was timed perfectly to embarrass Bush, wouldn't any normal person be suspicious of a report concluding Ahmadinejad was behaving like a prince?
Not liberals. Our intelligence agencies concluded Iran had suspended its nuclear program in 2003, so Bush owed Ahmadinejad an apology.
Feb. 11, 2010: Ahmadinejad announces that Iran is now a nuclear power.