Senator Joe Biden also gave one of the many excellent statements on the floor of the Senate today opposing the Bolton nomination.
His commentary was well organized, methodic, empirical and well substantiated, and seductive. This combined with statements by Dodd, Rockefeller, Voinovich and others has created a tangible momentum against Bolton’s nomination. Those speaking in his favor have not provided any compelling construct of support that makes sense — other than that the monarchial-tilting White House should have the team it wants.
The fact is that the Senate has a constitutional responsibility to make sure that the Chief Executive is advised when he or she is making a bad decision, and this is such a case.
Biden’s entire statement is worth a read and helps remind readers of a substantial portion of the Bolton investigation and dossier (but there is always more. . .just check the last couple of months of TWN archives).
Although Biden offers substantial support for each of the four pillars of his key arguments — these are the central themes of his opposition:
1. The first reason is that Mr. Bolton repeatedly sought to remove intelligence analysts who disagreed with him. Mr. Bolton was not content to fight the normal policy battles. He had to crush people — even if they were just doing their jobs.
2. The second reason to oppose Mr. Bolton is that he frequently sought to stretch the available intelligence — to say things in speeches and testimony that the intelligence would not support.
3. The third reason to oppose Mr. Bolton is his abusive treatment of colleagues in the State Department, and his frequent lack of judgment in dealing with them.
4. The fourth reason to vote against Mr. Bolton is that he gave testimony to the Foreign Relations Committee that was misleading.
Biden also echoes the logic of Senator George Voinovich who has done much to underscore the discomfort that many moderate Republicans feel while being forced to choke down this offensive nomination choice.
Is this nominee really the best that we can do?
The record presented by the Foreign Relations Committee is clear:
the documents we have uncovered;
the interviews with those who had to pick up the pieces in INR, in CIA, in the office of the Secretary of State, and in South Korea
the testimony of former Assistant Secretary Carl Ford, a conservative Republican if ever there was one.
All of this record has given us clear warning that Mr. Bolton is the wrong man for the job.
Mr. Bolton’s appointment is not in the national interest. In such a case, our duty is as clear as the many warnings before us. I urge the Senate to reject his nomination.
Again, don’t take my word for it.
Listen to Robert Hutchings, the Chairman of the National Intelligence Council from 2003 to 2005.
He said that, in the summer of 2003, Mr. Bolton prepared a speech on Syria and weapons of mass destruction that “struck me as going well beyond. . .where the evidence would legitimately take us. And that was the judgment of the experts on my staff, as well.”
Now remember, this is 2003. We have 150,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. There was all sorts of talk about invading Syria next. There was talk that the missing WMD in Iraq had been smuggled into Syria. A very delicate moment. And if a senior official like Mr. Bolton said Syria had WMD, that might provoke a war. This is not minor stuff. Mr. Bolton wanted to say things that went beyond the facts.
Hutchings said that Bolton took “isolated facts and made much more of them to build a case than I thought the intelligence warranted. It was a sort of cherry-picking of little factoids and little isolated bits that were drawn out to present the starkest-possible case.”
Listen, also, to Larry Wilkerson, a military man himself, who served as Secretary of State Powell’s chief of staff. He told us that because of problems with Mr. Bolton’s speeches not always being properly cleared by other State Department offices, Deputy Secretary Armitage “made a decision that John Bolton would not give any testimony, nor would he give any speech, that wasn’t cleared first by Rich [Armitage].”
That is truly remarkable.
Mr. Wilkerson later told the New York Times that “if anything, the [restrictions] got more stringent” as time went on. “No one else was subjected to these tight restrictions,” he said.
The leading Dems in this battle have conceded nothing — and as best I can tell, this nomination continues to be on a razor’s edge.
The combination of Democrats like Biden, Dodd, Rockefeller, and Boxer digging in and embedding themselves deeply in this debate combined with the inspirational leadership of Voinovich SHAMES those who are not in touch with their constitutional responsibilities to honestly tell the President that his choice is wrong-headed and bad for the nation. They SHAME those Senators who don’t really want to know what disqualifying issues lie in the Bolton record. They SHAME those Senators who are not deeply concerned that the White House has defied Senator Lugar and Biden in not providing the evidence requests made by the Senate.
More to do. More people to call. Again, many thought that this debate was over — and yet again, they were wrong.
— Steve Clemons