TWN has received a copy of the minority views in the Bolton Nomination Report filed by the Foreign Relations Committee with the U.S. Senate.
Here is one excerpt of a report very well worth reading in full:
VI. MISLEADING THE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE
The record before the Committee demonstrates that Under Secretary Bolton did not live up to his reputation as a “straight-talker” during his testimony to the Committee. He made several statements to the Committee that were contradicted by others, at odds with available evidence, and may be fairly described as misleading, disingenuous or non-responsive.
A. Mr. Bolton says he did not try to have INR analyst Christian Westermann disciplined.
Mr. Bolton insisted, on several occasions, that he did not try to have Christian Westermann, an analyst in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), removed from his position or disciplined.
This testimony was contradicted by four other witnesses, including his Chief of Staff.
Mr. Bolton’s essential argument — that seeking to remove an officer from his portfolio does not constitute any effort to discipline or punish him — is too clever by half. Mr. Westermann was the State Department’s lead analyst on chemical and biological weapons issues. Changing his portfolio would result in discarding years of experience and training, and force Mr. Westermann to either seek employment with another intelligence agency or be retrained for a new position in INR. Either way, it would have put Mr. Westermann’s career at the State Department off its normal track.
During the nomination hearing, Mr. Bolton said as follows:
~ “I never sought to have Mr. Westermann fired, at all.”
~ “I in no sense, sought to have any discipline imposed on Mr. Westermann.”
~ “I didn’t try to have Mr. Westermann removed–.”
~ “But I did not, look, I didn’t try to have disciplinary action imposed on Westermann.”
Testimony contradicting Boltons account
Mr. Bolton’s testimony was contradicted by four witnesses.
Carl Ford, the former Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence said:
I remember going back to my office with the impression that I had been asked to fire the analyst. Now, whether the words were “fire,” whether that was “reassign,” “get him away from me; I don’t want to see him again,” I don’t remember, frankly, exactly what the words were. I do remember that I came away with the impression that I’d just been asked to fire somebody in the intelligence community for doing what I considered their job.
Senator Obama later asked Mr. Ford whether he was “quite certain” that “Mr. Bolton actively sought to have this gentleman removed from his position?” Mr. Ford answered in the affirmative.
Testimony from other INR managers to whom Bolton spoke about Westermann provided similar accounts. Tom Fingar, at the time Mr. Ford’s deputy, said that [Bolton] [s]aid that he wanted Westermann “taken off his accounts.” Neil Silver, an office director in INR, said that Mr. Bolton “asked, or indicated, that he would like me to consider having [Westermann] move to some other portfolio, something of — to that effect.”
Even Frederick Fleitz, an aide to Mr. Bolton, understood from his conversations with Mr. Bolton that he wanted Westermann removed:
“All I can remember, and this is from Mr. Bolton, is that he spoke [to Mr. Fingar] to express his concern over what happened, and said that Mr. Westermann had lost his confidence, and he should be given a new portfolio.”
B. Mr. Bolton says he did not try to remove or discipline a CIA employee.
Mr. Bolton took great pains to leave the Committee with the impression that he made no effort to seek to discipline or to fire the National Intelligence Officer for Latin America. In response to Senator Chafee, he said “I didn’t see[k] to have these people fired, I didn’t seek to have discipline imposed on them, I said, ‘I’ve lost trust in them,’ and are there other portfolios they could follow, it wasn’t anything to me that I followed at his great length, I made my point and I moved on.” To the extent that he did concede speaking to the Acting Chairman of the National Intelligence Council about the NIO, Mr. Bolton said that his intervention was “one part of one conversation with one person, one time . . . and that was it, I let it go.”
As with the case of Mr. Westermann, Bolton’s effort to minimize the significance of his efforts is disingenuous. The NIO was a career officer who had developed expertise on Latin America; he held the senior Latin America intelligence analyst position in the U.S. government. Removing the NIO from his job, discarding years of experience and training, would have been a black mark on the officer’s career; it certainly would not have been career enhancing.
As discussed at length in Section III. B., above, it is clear that senior CIA officials believed that Bolton sought to remove the NIO. Likewise, the documentary evidence provided to the Committee confirms that Mr. Bolton and his staff actively discussed efforts to punish and remove the NIO for several months in the summer and fall of 2002. One State Department e-mail states that Mr. Bolton planned to talk to Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet about the matter.
Another indicates that Mr. Bolton had lost patience with the delay in seeking the removal of the NIO and that he did not “want it to slip away further.” Mr. Bolton’s office worked over a four month period on proposed letters — that would be sent from Mr. Bolton and/or Assistant Secretary of State Otto Reich — to CIA officials to seek removal of the NIO. The letters contemplated blocking the NIO’s access to the State and Defense Departments and his official travel in the Western Hemisphere (by blocking country clearance by U.S. embassies).
Even Mr. Fleitz, the aide to Mr. Bolton, understood that Mr. Bolton believed the NIO should be given a different portfolio, and had “at least one meeting with an Agency official where he relayed his concerns.”
The scramble continues.
The report prepared by the staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is excellently prepared.
It makes it crystal clear that Bolton is not someone with impeccable credentials and character and not someone who as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Americans can feel proud of.
— Steve Clemons