Big news this morning.
Douglas Jehl reports that Senator Chris Dodd is digging deeper into the reasons why John Bolton requested mega-secret intercepts from the National Security Agency.
From the article:
John R. Bolton, nominated to be the next ambassador to the United Nations, used his position as a senior State Department official to obtain details about intercepted communications involving other American officials that were monitored by the National Security Agency, according to Mr. Bolton’s own account.
The identities of American officials whose communications are intercepted are usually closely protected by law, and not included even in classified intelligence reports. Access to the names may be authorized by the N.S.A. only in response to special requests, and these are not common, particularly from policy makers.
We already know that John Bolton was sorting through intercepts in his crusade to limit International Atomic Energy Agency Director General ElBaradei to two terms. Using NSA intercepts to advocate “term limits” does not seem to me to be an appropriate use of such extremely secret material. I “speculate” that these intercepts are probably among those requested by Bolton.
But more interestingly, Bolton was allegedly on the verge of a raging nervous breakdown because Jack Pritchard had not defended Bolton’s July 31 speech to North Koreans in a New York meeting to which Pritchard had been summoned. After Bolton’s speech on the eve of the first agreed meeting of the Six Party Talks, the North Koreans called Bolton “human scum.”
According to those who have read the diplomatic notes on the meeting, Pritchard never mentioned Bolton’s name in the meeting and focused on his objective — which was to keep the North Koreans committed to the scheduled first meeting of talks in Beijing. Pritchard stuck to his script that no one other than the President of the United States or Secretary of State could set and pronounce U.S. foreign policy. Clearly, Pritchard was implying that all other dissonant voices should be ignored, but he never mentioned Bolton.
Bolton was pretty “pissed off,” according to one observer of this interaction, that Pritchard had not defended Bolton. Later, Bolton advocates — or perhaps Bolton himself — got Senator Jon Kyl to blast Pritchard for explicitly telling the North Koreans to ignore Bolton.
One question Senator Dodd should look into is whether or not these NSA intercepts relate to the meeting between Pritchard and the North Koreans in New York. If it did, then this is an even worse abuse of authority by Bolton who was engaged in a vain, personal agenda vis-a-vis Pritchard and the North Koreans. In short, Bolton placed his own vanity above the stated foreign policy objectives of the United States.
Lincoln Chafee opened this line of questioning in the Senate hearings. Senator Dodd may be taking it further.
Senator Dodd should do as much as possible to discern if Bolton used NSA intercepts or other records of the North Korea meeting to find out what Pritchard said, or did not say, about John Bolton.
— Steve Clemons