First of all, I was overjoyed when I saw the headline, because I've been convinced their nuclear program was peaceful for maybe a year at this point, and it's nice to get confirmation of that. Especially since I'm rather generally disdainful of nuclear war.
But I'm also curious. Why release the report? Especially so publicly? No matter how much spin the National Security Advisor tried to put on it, there's no denying that this is a terrible blow to the administration. First, it directly contradict the rhetoric they've been spewing for the last several years. More importantly, it again calls into question the credibility of the American intelligence machine, either from direct incompetence or political pressure. Frankly, I don't think it's relevant to the issue at hand which it is, but admitting another big mistake just gives their opponents at home and abroad extra ammunition.
Another problem, and also a potential explanation, involves the Republican candidates for president. Many of them have made statements about foreign policy (those you can dig up on your own, though)and this probably compromises the positions they have been developing. Of course, they can't be expected to be in the know about such things, but starting of on a bad premise isn't going to impress the public with their knowledge and leadership ability, especially after the folly of this administration.
I think it's a potential explanation on the "ticking time bomb" theory. Specifically, that this report exists, and the administration chose to release it now because this is the point where it will do the least political damage, especially to those that need to pick up the torch. If they were to wait until primary season--or worse, the conventions--it could be disastrous rather than just harmful.
While I might generally suspect the "ttb" theory given that it's now a pretty slow news cycle, this lame duck administration doesn't have a lot to lose if it gaffs and the information comes out anyway.
Another theory is that this a very public way to try and jumpstart talks with Iran. Frankly, I've read reports from the diplomats in Afghanistan that say the Iranians got the Northern Alliance to sit up and listen when we weren't making diplomatic headway. If that's true, then we could really use their help in the pair (or is that a trio?, counting Pakistan)of powder kegs we are siting on over there. Admitting we fucked up might get them to the table looking to see what they can get from us or the EU. Granted, not what the administration would like, but at this point it needs to take what it can get.
I'm out of time, so I'll leave it there. Erudite commentary is, as always, appreciated.