A new set of controversial Bolton emails has made its way out of the State Department’s increasingly tightened access to all things related to John Bolton.
In these, Reuters submits that Bolton’s Chief of Staff, Fred Fleitz, threatened to “diminish the role” of the Intelligence and Research Bureau.
Here is the opener:
A top aide to John Bolton, President Bush’s embattled nominee as U.N. envoy, threatened to diminish the role of the State Department’s intelligence bureau because of a dispute over analyzing China’s missile export controls, according to declassified e-mails.
The new information comes amid accusations that Bolton, the Undersecretary of State and top U.S. diplomat for arms control, bullied subordinates and tried to remove intelligence analysts who balked at conforming to his hard-line views on Cuba, Syria, North Korea and Iran.
Bolton critics who are seeking to derail his nomination to be U.N. ambassador say the threat by Fred Fleitz, Bolton’s chief of staff, is another example of Bolton trying to inappropriately shape intelligence and decision-making.
But let me give friends and colleagues in the media one important lesson in how the government works. Fred Fleitz, an interesting and provocative CIA official who was loaned to Bolton, was not operating in his own right.
Fleitz was not renegade himself. He was following instructions of Bolton, operating on behalf of Bolton, in a manner consistent with the expectations — and apparently the behavior paradigm — of John Bolton.
The fact that Fred Fleitz sent emails only matters if Fleitz was operating in a way that Bolton says was irresponsible or at odds with his instructions or intent. Otherwise, Fleitz was an agent for Bolton.
The article by Reuters makes this semi-clear near the end of the piece:
In the e-mail exchange, made available to Reuters by Bolton’s opponents, Fleitz said he was writing “on behalf of” Bolton and expressed his boss’ “displeasure” with a memo the State Department’s intelligence bureau wrote in rebuttal to an August 2002 CIA analysis of China’s recently announced export control list.
The media should not irresponsibly pitch this activity of Fleitz as somehow disassociated from Bolton — unless Bolton clarifies that Fleitz was acting in some renegade manner.
But that has been happening — and it’s an incorrect assumption.
Plenty of staffers in the administration and on the Hill act in the name of their bosses. That is how business is done — not in the name of Steve Clemons when he worked for Senator Bingaman, or Mark Lagon when he worked on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for Senator Helms, or Marlene Colucci as she works today in the White House for President Bush. I and they work in the name of elected or appointed officials.
So, do read up on Fred Fleitz. He’s an intriguing man whose interview material is already clearly at odds with John Bolton’s testimony given under oath.
But the emails on diminishing the status and place of INR further validate that Bolton’s trouble with State Department intelligence was never over “management process” and always over “substance.”
Bolton lied about this — to all of the Senators on the Committee. What will they do about such overt duplicity toward the peoples’ elected representatives doing their Constitutionally mandated duty?
— Steve Clemons