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The election of “’08” is quickly turning into The election of “Oh, wait.” Another day, another National Security scandal.

The “National Intelligence Estimate” released on December 3rd by the sixteen agencies of the American intelligence community, revealed that Iran appears to have suspended its pursuit of nuclear weapons back in 2003, some time after the invasion of Iraq. Instead of sharing this good news with the world, this (pardon the pun) “inconvenient truth” was suppressed by the White House on the grounds that it needed a greater level of “confirmation”.

But despite KNOWING that there were strong doubts about Iran “actively” pursuing nuclear weapons, the Bush Administration chose to speak with GREATER certainty and MORE urgency regarding Iran’s nuclear weapons program. And just as they did with Iraq a year before talking of “mushroom clouds” and providing terrorists with a nuclear bomb, they suggested Iran was becoming SO great a threat, we were running out of time to act. The rhetoric seemed to hit a fever pitch last October when President Bush invoked “World War III” when speaking about the looming threat of Iran.

Then the bottom fell out.

We learned, not only that Iran suspended its nuclear program in 2003, but the White House knew and had been suppressing the news for nearly a year. What’s worse, photographic proof that Iran had suspended its nuclear weapons program had been available on the Internet for months as the CIA was able to compare the intel they were receiving with photos taken by journalists touring Iran’s nuclear facilities last year.

The questions started flying. “What did Bush know and when did he know it?” Former UN Ambassador John Bolton went on several TV and Radio shows to suggest that “rogue elements in the intelligence community were out to discredit the Bush Administration”, basically calling them liars and accusing them of treason, but not claiming anything they said was an actual “lie”, nor was he willing to call for anyone in the intelligence community to be fired and brought up on charges of treason. If you are a Neocon and you get caught in a lie, you don’t face up to it. You claim there’s a “conspiracy” out to get you. When Hillary said it, they laughed and ridiculed her. When they say it, it’s not paranoia, it’s a serious national emergency.

I believe that, caught with their hand in the proverbial cookie jar, the White House needed a distraction. One that took the focus off their own lies and discredited the people that exposed them at the same time. That’s when the CIA destroyed taped evidence of waterboarding story broke.

I don’t think it is a coincidence that just two days after the nations intelligence agencies exposed the fact Bush had been lying all along about the threat from Iran (essentially telling President Bush they were tired of him hyping a threat they knew not to be true), “someone” leaked to the New York Times that the CIA destroyed video taped evidence of them using torture to interrogate prisoners in 2005. And now suddenly, the CIA find themselves having to answer questions about their *own* misdeeds.

Which piqued my curiosity: “Who told the NY Times about the CIA tapes?” We know who told about the NIE: the intelligence agencies themselves. But someone MUST have told the Times about the tapes. Did someone contact the Times at the behest of the White House in retaliation for the NIE leak? I scoured the Net for hours, but not only is no one in the media revealing “who told The Times?”, no one is even asking the question!

Now, just as in the Valerie Plame affair in 2003, “someone” that knew the true identity of Ms. Plame HAD to of told the White House. The CIA does not make a point of providing bureaucrats with the true identities of their under-cover agents. Someone in the agency sympathetic to the Bush Administration HAD to of provided them the information.

Armed with the classified information of Ms. Plame’s true identity, Vice President Cheney unilaterally declassified her identity (as revealed in this appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that I’ve referred to several times before) and revealed it to White House support staff (the assistants to Powell, Bush and himself… that being Armitage, Rove & Libby) with orders to disseminate it among members of the press in an attempt to discredit former Ambassador Joe Wilson.

And here we are again, three years later. The CIA embarrasses the White House and suddenly information is leaked to the press that shifts the focus onto the CIA, accusing them of wrong-doing (only difference now is, the CIA actually is guilty of wrongdoing. But under whose orders?)

Who contacted The Times? Is it unreasonable to suggest that someone working at the CIA is feeding the White House classified information to take the heat off the Bush Administration and attack the CIA? If someone at the CIA is leaking classified information (whether the recipient has the security clearance or not is irrelevant) solely for political purposes, then someone is jeopardizing national security to play political games. We need to know who that person is.

Postscript: With the revelation that Iran’s nuclear threat has been over-hyped, the price of oil, which rushed right past the chilling $75/barrel mark just four months ago towards the once-unimaginable $100/barrel mark last month, rapidly backed off to below $90/barrel. However, the price leveled off in recent days as President Bush continues to hype the Iranian nuclear threat, stating that nothing about the leaked NIE report contradicts what he has been saying regarding the seriousness of the Iranian nuclear threat. Is this all about ratcheting up the price of oil? I’ll let you be the judge.

Oh, but before you decide, I’d also like to point out that President Bush has threatened to veto the Democrats’ bill requiring raising the average gas mileage to a mere 35mpg by 2020.

(ADDENDUM: It has been pointed out that with Poppy Bush being former head of the CIA under President Ford, and Cheney’s ties to the DIA when he was Secretary of Defense under Poppy, that the White House has long standing ties in the Intelligence Community and therefore do/did not need a “mole”. But being “connected” to the IC does NOT make them omnipotent. Neither Poppy nor Cheney would of known Plame’s identity nor about the destruction of the Torture Tapes unless someone told them. Who that someone is, is the question being raised by this Op/Ed.)