The clock is ticking, and there is a great deal to do during this final week of agreed investigation time into John Bolton’s background. All of the Senate’s submitted questions and requests of the administration must be completed by Friday close of business, leaving the next weekend and three more work days to absorb everything learned and organize for the next scheduled Business Meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday, May 12th.
The latest is that despite the National Security Agency recommending that access be given to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, that “official notification” from the Director of National Intelligence has not yet been sent to the Senators of the Committee. Informally, things moved — but formally, the situation on the NSA intercepts is still in suspense.
Thus far, a source close to the investigation of Bolton says that nothing in writing has been received from the NSA or administration on the intercepts. There are no terms yet as to who will have access to the intercept materials and how much will be revealed. Committee Members do not know if they will have full access to the raw material in the intercepts, or to dates and general content of the intercepts, as well as the names of officials requested by Bolton. None of these terms have been worked out.
Lugar is on the case though — and majority and minority staffs are finally pulling together on this one. Defiance by the administration, if that occurs, means defiance of Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar also. I suspect that these problems will soon be worked out.
The clock is ticking. The Senators have made it clear that they must have adequate time to review the intercept materials. While no more delays are anticipated in the Bolton hearings process, if the administration fails to comply, then opponents of Bolton have yet another excuse to push off the planned vote.
The Committee did not interview any people today on Bolton but several important interviews are planned this week.
Among those of note are interview sessions planned with Jamie Miscik, CIA Deputy Director for Intelligence. Bolton’s schedule shows that on July 10, 2002 — the same day he was meeting with head of the National Intelligence Council Stuart Cohen in an attempt to have National Intelligence Officer for Latin America Fulton Armstrong fired — Bolton had also scheduled to meet Jamie Miscik.
This is new information. No one yet knows if the meeting did occur, but this adds some potential new tension regarding Bolton’s efforts to have people “fired” from their positions — something Bolton robustly and emphatically denied under sworn testimony during his recent confirmation hearings.
The Committee will also interview Joan Maginnis to whom Bolton allegedly denied maternity leave during his tenure as Assistant Attorney General. TWN is not sure it is the same person, but thinks that the same Ms. Maginnis may now be Assistant General Counsel for Finance & Litigation in the Department of Commerce.
There is also another emerging case — yet unreported — of an attorney whom John Bolton attempted to have fired from the State Department. The Committee plans to discuss this matter with the well-respected State Department Legal Adviser William Howard Taft IV.
Allegedly, Bolton’s fury in this case was ignited by something that had to do with either “communication or a miscommunication on a China proliferation case.”
The cases keep rolling in. . .
TWN also learned that the Committee plans to recall some witnesses, including Christian Westermann — the first revealed of a now long list of intelligence analysts Bolton harassed and attempted to have fired.
The Committee also plans to call back Bolton chief of staff, Fred Fleitz, who has already provided a great deal of commentary at odds with Bolton’s sworn confirmation hearing testimony. The Committee wants to interview him in greater detail about efforts to have National Intelligence Officer Fulton Armstrong removed.
Furthermore, John Wolf’s interviews indicated that Fleitz may have played a substantial role in seeking to discipline on Bolton’s behalf two State Department officials in the Non-Proliferation Bureau under John Wolf’s management.
On the much anticipated NSA interecepts, the key question that everyone close the process is waiting to see is whether or not Bolton requested a set of information once every few months, in line with his job and the normal functions he performed at State, or whether he became obsessed with a particular incident or case of intelligence.
The Committee wants to know if he was focused on a single issue and dug very deeply into some intelligence nugget either out of paranoia or petty rivalry, or for some other reason.
— Steve Clemons