Cheat-Seeking Missles

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Moderate Confidence

Would you drive your car on a winding mountain road if you had moderate confidence your brakes would work?

Would you enter a dark alley with $5,000 in your wallet if you had moderate confidence the thugs known to mug people there were taking the night off?

Didn't think so, and that's the gist of Norman Podhoretz' piece in Commentary today reflecting on yesterday's National Intelligence Estimate regarding Iran's nuclear ambitions. He points out that NIE assesses with "high confidence" that Iran stopped its program in 2003, but only with "moderate confidence" that Iran has stayed stopped, or that all its nuke bomb-making activities have stopped.

Podhoretz goes on to ascribe dark motivations to the NIE:
But I entertain an even darker suspicion. It is that the intelligence community, which has for some years now been leaking material calculated to undermine George W. Bush, is doing it again. This time the purpose is to head off the possibility that the President may order air strikes on the Iranian nuclear installations.
If the NIE's moderate confidence turns out to be well-founded, this will be a useful strategy, if indeed it is the intelligence community's strategy. But if they're wrong, it could be much more than moderately disastrous.

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