I have heard for days that something very big was brewing regarding the upcoming John Bolton hearings — but I’m rather floored by the news that just hit via Douglas Jehl and Steven Weisman at the New York Times.
For days, insiders sharing tidbits and rumors have been telling me that a real wave of Republican opposition was building to John Bolton’s U.N. candidacy. I have reported before that most of the leaks and material I was getting on Mr. Bolton was not emanating from progressive or Democratic circles — but rather from Republican ones. But the output was still somewhat thin, and I decided not to flirt with possibilities that didn’t seem grounded in visible people or empirical fact that could be ethically and responsibly reported.
Nonetheless, I had been hearing that people were lining up to share with the media, or potentially with Senators, the “inside scoop” on John Bolton’s expulsion of an intelligence analyst from his morning briefings; his extraordinary vindictiveness towards and punishment of those who questioned the quality of WMD intelligence in not only the run-up to the Iraq War but also with regard to North Korea, Iran and Cuba; and his defiance of State Department protocols in keeping the Niger-Uranium story alive after the State Department’s and CIA’s intelligence analysts had vigorously rejected those claims. In this latter case, Bolton then used secrecy classifications to cover his tracks and seemingly had his staff lie to Congress about his involvement.
These are big issues. The Niger story is really important in that a huge tug-of-war raged within the State Department that has not yet been fully explicated and described in public.
And now, it seems, we are about to hear the entire thing — live — in the United States Senate with one major State Department Republican political appointee, Carl Ford, challenging another, John Bolton.
This is without any doubt, HUGE.
Here are clips of this important article:
A former chief of the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research is expected to testify in opposition to John R. Bolton’s nomination as ambassador to the United Nations when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee holds hearings on Mr. Bolton next week.
. . .Carl W. Ford Jr., the former State Department official, and Mr. Bolton clashed while at the State Department over what Mr. Ford regarded as Mr. Bolton’s intimidation of intelligence officials. The committee is also seeking testimony from two intelligence officials, one a top Central Intelligence Agency analyst, about what the officials have said they believed were Mr. Bolton’s efforts to have them replaced for disagreeing with him over the weapons programs of Iraq, Cuba and other countries.
Former government officials have accused Mr. Bolton of improperly circumventing State Department channels to gain access to confidential sensitive intelligence reports, the Congressional officials said.
In addition, there have been accusations that Mr. Bolton has sought to remove dissenters from their posts or bar them from meetings called to discuss policies. A senior Central Intelligence Agency official has become the second government official to tell the Senate Intelligence Committee that he believes Mr. Bolton sought to remove him from his post after he complained that statements Mr. Bolton made in 2002 about a biological weapons program in Cuba did not reflect the views of intelligence agencies, Congressional officials said.
. . .Mr. Bolton is scheduled to testify Monday, and Mr. Ford and other possible witnesses are to testify Tuesday. A Republican Senate staff aide said Mr. Bolton could return for a rebuttal if necessary.
Republican and Democratic Senate staff members said that Mr. Bolton would probably be approved, but that if all 8 Democrats were joined by one of the 10 Republicans on the committee to make it a tie vote, the nomination could not go to the Senate floor and would most likely be blocked. The Congressional officials who discussed the prospects for the hearing included Democrats and Republicans and people who favor the Bolton nomination as well as those who oppose it. They refused to be identified because of the delicacy of the nomination, because the postponement of the hearing in light of the funeral for Pope John Paul II made the situation fluid and because intelligence matters are involved.
Yes, Weisman and Jehl are still reporting that the official view is that “Mr. Bolton will probably be approved.”
But wait — why? This line-up of opposition testimony to Bolton is an extraordinary event. There are questions about Bolton’s governance of a non-profit called the National Policy Forum that had its non-profit status revoked for extreme, illegal, partisan activities and which was investigated for inappropriately taking foreign funds and funneling them into Republican National Committee activities.
The real question is that when these and the many other problems with Mr. Bolton are added up — how can a Senator, any Senator, look the public in the eye and say that he or she overlooked these amazing transgressions and voted for the guy?
John Bolton has demonstrated a consistent, predictable pattern of major flaws in judgment, harrassment of colleagues, and so on. . .AND ALL OF THAT IS BEFORE THE FACT THAT JOHN BOLTON DOES NOT BELIEVE IN THE VERY CONCEPT OF THE UNITED NATIONS. . .
A vote to confirm John Bolton after these stunning revelations and after the drama that will play out in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Monday and Tuesday is not only a slap in the face of the international community, but a slap in the face of American citizens and of principled, enlightened American leadership in the world.
— Steve Clemons