Suddenly, the National Intelligence Estimate can be safely unveiled?

Now that it needs a political defense to a recent New York Times article, the White House is declassifying a report it had concealed since April.

Published September 26, 2006 5:10PM (EDT)

Following up on my post below concerning Sen. Roberts' politically motivated demand to declassify the National Intelligence Estimate, President Bush just announced that he will do precisely that. As Think Progress reports, the president said this morning: "Once again, there's a leak out of our government, coming right down the stretch in this campaign, you know, to trade confusion in the minds of the American people, in my judgment, is why they leaked it. So I told the DNI [director of national intelligence] to declassify this document. You can read it for yourself.

"We'll stop all of the speculation, all the politics, about someone saying something about Iraq, you know, somebody trying to confuse the American people about the nature of this enemy. And so John Negroponte, the DNI, is going to declassify the document as quickly as possible, declassify the key judgments for you to read yourself and he'll do so in such a way that he'll be able to protect sources and methods that our intelligence community uses. And then everybody can draw their own conclusions about what the report says. Thank you."

If large and important parts of the NIE can be safely declassified and known by the American public, why were they classified in the first place? And why have they been kept classified since April? Obviously, the NIE is being declassified now only because the White House needs a political defense to the New York Times article reporting that the NIE concluded that the war in Iraq worsened the terrorist threat. But it is really amazing just how transparent the White House is being about the fact that it routinely conceals information as "classified" not because it is secret but because it is politically damaging. What other explanation even theoretically accounts for this behavior?

By Glenn Greenwald

Follow Glenn Greenwald on Twitter: @ggreenwald.

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