mushroom cloudThere’s an excellent timeline about who knew what when with regard to the NIE that emptywheel has compiled. I’d just like to add a couple of data points about the activities of everyone’s favorite war hawk, Slummy Joe Lieberman (my additions in bold):

February 2007: NIE completed; Cheney objecting to content

February 7: Iranian Revolutionary Guard General Ali Reza Asgari arrives in Turkey; he disappears there, and is presumed to have defected or been kidnapped; in March he was reported to be cooperating with western intelligence

March 22: S.970 introduced with cosponsors Lieberman, Clinton and Obama — "A bill to impose sanctions on Iran and on other countries for assisting Iran in developing a nuclear program, and for other purpose." It supports the adminstration’s claims that it’s all about, you know, Weapons of Mass Destruction.

April 26: Thomas Fingar announces NIE will be delayed due to Ahmadinejad’s demagoguery

May 12: Cheney meets with Saudi Arabia

July 2007: Intelligence community intercepts communications that verify claim Iran’s nuclear program remains suspended; Senior Administration Officials briefed

July 11: S.Amdt. 2073, the Lieberman Amendment passes the Senate by a vote of 97-0, which Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton both vote for. It requires " a report on support provided by the Government of Iran for attacks against coalition forces in Iraq." Lieberman’s floor speech makes little mention of an Iranian nuclear threat any more.

July 13: Lieberman goes on Hugh Hewitt’s show:

HH: Right. In a statement earlier this month, Senator Lieberman, you said that, and I’m quoting here, “The fact is that the Iranian government, by its actions, has declared war on us.” Given that, if President Bush announced he felt compelled to take military action against Iran, would you support him?

JL: Yeah, of course I would.

So largely thanks to the help of Joe Lieberman, the narrative shifts to Iranians attacking US forces in Iraq.

August 2007: Bush claims he learned new intelligence exists

August 9: Bush substitutes the claim that Iran was seeking nuclear technology for earlier claim that they were seeking nukes. (h/t Froomkin)

September 26: S.Amdt. 3017 passes by a vote of 76-22, Clinton voting "yea" and Obama not voting. "To express the sense of the Senate regarding Iran." It categorized Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp a "foreign terrorist organization." No WMDs here any more, either.

So perhaps it was just a happy coincidence, but it would appear that Lieberman played a critical role in re-directing the anti-Iranian narrative away from WMDs to the fact that they’re a bunch of foreign terrorists.

As emptywheel notes today, Cheney was trying to twist arms — and intelligence — regarding Iran as little as two weeks ago. I’m sure Joe’s stalwart help in the effort to bomb the shit out of Iran has been much appreciated.