Why The NIE Delay?
It's clearly the most pertinent question. It's November 2006. You're an administration in lots of hot water, desperate for some good news in Iraq, eager to find some shred of evidence that your foreign policy strategy isn't a total catastrophe - and your intelligence agencies tell you that there's no massive urgency at all, and that the Iranians suspended the worst of their program three years ago. It helps vindicate your Iraq policy, or can be spun that way. But you don't tell anyone about it. In fact, you actively tell the American people and the world the opposite. Why?
The only conceivably credible answer to me is that Cheney simply insisted the good news wasn't true, and blocked its publication and dissemination. And he did this while he and the president offered up the direst warnings about Iran's nukes - World War III and the like. Was this a bluff? Or was it willful refusal to face reality ... until the agencies broke through? I definitely have a sense that Gates may have been the instigator here; and what this means is that the Rice-Gates twofer has now overwhelmed the veep.