Douglas Jehl of the New York Times has done a superb job covering the hard to get at nooks and crannies of the debate over John Bolton. Demetri Sevastopulo of the Financial Times and through the first month and a half, Dafna Linzer of the Washington Post, have also worked this story hard. Another who has been accurate and working hard on the intel side of the Bolton mess is Mark Hosenball of Newsweek.
I mention them — and there are others — because they have been the few doing quite excellent digging, as opposed to either just reporting Dick Cheney’s latest stirrings of “confidence in John Bolton” or playing along with the White House’s psychological warfare game trying to convince weak-kneed liberal pundits that they have the Bolton game in the bag.
I have knocked the mainstream media several times because of the tendency to call nearly every twist and turn in the Bolton saga wrong — which shows both their collective bias in reporting, and their laziness. These folks and some others are true exceptions.
Today, Douglas Jehl disclosed that the increasingly controversial NSA intercepts requested both by Republican and Democratic Senators include company names and deal in part with China. Others who have access to inside info on the intercepts suggest that there are “problems” with what Bolton and his then chief-of-staff Fred Fleitz were up to. It is important to note that Senator Rockefeller, while also expressing concerns about Bolton’s use of the intelligence, did not see any immediate misuse of position in Bolton’s requests for this intelligence.
Doug Jehl, however, confirms something TWN had previously reported — that Senator Roberts and Rockefeller did not see the actual intercepts but rather reviewed digested accounts of them. They also received none of the 19 U.S. officials’ names that Bolton had requested from the NSA and been granted access to.
Again, it is irresponsible of the White House to arbitrarily block Senate access to this information. There will be no Bolton vote without a review by those knowledgeable with Bolton’s full record and dossier of these materials.
If there is nothing there, then there is NOTHING there. But that is not the manner in which John Negroponte or the White House are playing this hand.
TWN will report later on the other information that is also on the “list” expected by Biden and others before agreeing to any up-or-down vote on Bolton’s confirmation.
But congratulations to those in the mainstream media who are actually doing their jobs.
— Steve Clemons