In retrospect, it is clear that certain people in the intelligence community influenced the 2008 election through the National Intelligence Estimates on Iran and Afghanistan. First, in December 2007, the NIE indicated (incorrectly) that Iran had stopped development of nuclear weapons in 2003, severely undermining President Bush's attempts to curtail Iran's nuclear program, and undermining the Republican's generally. Second, just before the 2008 election, information was leaked from an upcoming NIE that was highly critical of the handling of the war in Afghanistan, and the emphasis of Iraq over Afghanistan. Again, the purpose was to embarrass the President, and thus aided Obama's "anti-Bush" presidential campaign.
Now, we are again seeing something similar:
Weeks before the presidential election, President Barack Obama’s administration faces mounting opposition from within the ranks of U.S. intelligence agencies over what career officers say is a “cover up” of intelligence information about terrorism in North Africa.
Intelligence held back from senior officials and the public includes numerous classified reports revealing clear Iranian support for jihadists throughout the tumultuous North Africa and Middle East region, as well as notably widespread al Qaeda penetration into Egypt and Libya in the months before the deadly Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.* * *
Officials with access to intelligence reports, based on both technical spying and human agents, said specific reporting revealed an alarming surge in clandestine al Qaeda activity months before the attack in Benghazi.
Yet the Obama administration sought to keep the information from becoming public to avoid exposing what the officials say is a Middle East policy failure by Obama.
Officials said that the administration appeared to engage in a disinformation campaign aimed at distancing the president personally during the peak of the presidential election campaign from the disaster in Benghazi, where numerous warning of an attack were ignored, resulting in the deaths of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other officials.
The first part of the apparent campaign, officials said, was the false information provided to U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, who appeared on Sunday television shows after the attack to say the event was a “spontaneous” response to an anti-Muslim video trailer posted online.
Officials said Rice was given the false information to use in media appearances in order to promote the excuse that the obscure video was the cause of the attack, and not the Islamic concept of jihad.
Rice’s claims provoked concern inside the U.S. intelligence community that intelligence about what was going on in Libya and the region was being suppressed, and led to a series of news disclosures about what would later be confirmed as an al Qaeda attack using the group Ansar al Sharia.
After Rice’s incorrect statements, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney repeated the false assessment of the Benghazi attack.
The final element of the campaign involved comments by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was the first to give a partial explanation of the intelligence when she said al Qaeda terrorists operating from Mali were possible culprits in the Benghazi attack.
“What she failed to mention was the cooperation of Iran and Egypt in supporting jihadists in Libya,” the official said, who added the events would be investigated in an apparent effort to stave off internal critics in government.