There’s a lot going on in the world. Most of you probably know that there was a low casualty terrorist incident in London involving four bombs. I’ve spent the last several days with some seriously smart — and dangerous — people out at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The focus of the meeting was roughly “Homeland Security and Terrorism.” I’m involved in organizing a major conference on the subject of terrorism and democracies taking place on September 6 & 7 in Washington, D.C. I will be writing more about it soon — but if you plan to be in D.C. at the time, zap me an email and I will issue you an invitation (there is no charge).
On the Bolton front, a lot of weird stuff is popping up. None of it seems too serious to me.
But despite the efforts underway by Dems to figure out how to place their marker in the coming confirmation debate about Supreme Court Associate Justice nominee John Roberts, I think it is clear that the battle over John Bolton — still happily unresolved and withering on the vine — may have chastened the White House (finally) to be more cautious. There are some who think Roberts is a trojan horse for reversals on Roe v. Wade and other important progressive issues — and there is merit in their concerns. But compared to the roster of alternatives, he is just an order of magnitude better than what most expected.
Why did this happen? I think that the Bolton battle made a difference.
Secondly, one informed observer has shared his view with me that part of the reason that the administration was so resistant on releasing memos, emails, and other material requested by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about Bolton-related NSA intercepts and Syria testimony was in preparation for a battle over minutes, notes, emails, etc. that involve John Roberts. Could be. I’m not sure — but the link is plausible.
On other fronts, Chuck Hagel spoke to a German Marshall Fund breakfast meeting to which I was invited but was stuck on a plane and said that he thinks Bolton is still teed up for an August recess appointment.
Here is the latest from Congress Daily quoting Hagel:
Congress Daily AM
July 21, 2005 HILL BRIEFS
Hagel Predicts Bolton To Get Recess Appointment
Despite Bush administration prodding for another Senate vote to confirm John Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., said Wednesday he does not expect one to happen.
“I think the last vote on Bolton has been taken,” Hagel said, referring to a 54-38 vote in late June by which Senate Republicans fell short of the 60 votes needed to overcome a Democratic filibuster.
At a breakfast hosted by the German Marshall Fund, Hagel said he expects President Bush to give Bolton a recess appointment to fill the job once Congress begins its August recess.
Democrats have demanded documents regarding Bolton’s role in preparing testimony on Syria and weapons of mass destruction he was to deliver in 2003 and his requests to determine the identity of individuals cited in National Security Agency intercepts.
Bush administration officials have denied the request, and Democrats, led by Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., and Senate Foreign Relations ranking member Joseph Biden, D-Del., have in turn refused to let the nomination be brought to a vote.
On other humorous fronts, various press outlets were reporting a “denial” of rumors that John Bolton was going to be appointed as U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines. It seems that the Philippines government went hard at work to try and make sure that John Bolton was not, in fact, headed their way.
Other highly-placed State Department sources have shared with TWN that Bolton himself was ‘likely’ the source that Charles Babington and Dafna Linzer referred to when it was disclosed that Bolton “would” indeed accept a recess appointment if offered.
Others have confirmed to TWN that Bolton did try to begin to get his staff and office space expanded in the Washington-based operations of the United Nations — and that Condi Rice was completely unaware of this effort. Those who disclosed the information about Bolton’s pre-confirmation stewardship of logistics related to the U.S. mission to the United Nations are admittedly not thrilled at the prospect of working under his lead.
Lastly, a note just came in — and I don’t have that much time to track all of the details down as I’m rushing to catch a flight — but apparently there is a Senate Foreign Relations Committee this morning involving former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Senator George Mitchell.
Senator Hagel apparently welcomed Newt as “Ambassador Gingrich,” following up on a background comment by Senator Biden that Gingrich ought to throw his hat in to be Ambassador to the United Nations.
But the White House remains steadfastly committed to its desire for an “up or down” vote on Bolton.
TWN suggests that the White House’s lunk-headedness on the Bolton nomination is harming American interests in the United Nations — and giving the world a display of what pugnacious extremism can do to undermine the best of what tug and pull democracy should generate — in this case, a better U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
Gotta catch my flight.
— Steve Clemons