Remember General Jack D. Ripper from Dr. Strangelove: Or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb?
That general who went nuts and decided that America had been duped by the “commies”, became his own intelligence shop, and took the initiative to launch a fleet of nuclear weapons-armed B-52 bombers against the Soviet Union.
Folks may remember this line:
Mr. President, about, uh, 35 minutes ago, General Jack Ripper, the commanding general of, uh, Burpelson Air Force Base, issued an order to the 34 B-52’s of his Wing, which were airborne at the time as part of a special exercise we were holding called Operation Drop-Kick.
Now, it appears that the order called for the planes to, uh, attack their targets inside Russia. The, uh, planes are fully armed with nuclear weapons with an average load of, um, 40 megatons each. Now, the central display of Russia will indicate the position of the planes.
The triangles are their primary targets; the squares are their secondary targets. The aircraft will begin penetrating Russian radar cover within, uh, 25 minutes.
While Bolton is lucid; it is in fact his renegade behavior, his inability to work with or for others, and his self-indulgent righteousness and ideological crusades that have so many in the foreign policy establishment worried.
While there is wide agreement that the United Nations needs serious reform, few believe that Bolton believes in that reform. What is his vision of the United Nations two or three decades out? Just a year ago, if Bolton had been asked that question, I suspect he would have said that he hoped it was a pile of rubble.
Those with concerns about Bolton had their fears further confirmed by this passage in a New York Times article today:
Among newly declassified documents being reviewed by the committee are some from the Central Intelligence Agency expressing vehement opposition to testimony on Cuba that Mr. Bolton planned to give in June 2002, at least partly on grounds that Mr. Bolton was presenting as the government’s view a conclusion that Cuba possessed biological weapons, when the intelligence agencies were not so certain.
The documents on Cuba were provided to the committee by the C.I.A., and were provided to The New York Times by a Democrat legislator opposed to Mr. Bolton’s nomination. Many had initially been classified as secret, and they reflect intense, angry debate between Mr. Bolton’s office and senior intelligence officials, including representatives of the National Intelligence Council, that focused in part on whether the intelligence agencies’ had a right to challenge some of the planned assertions.
One memorandum sent by an unnamed C.I.A. official to George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, told how a meeting in mid-2002 on the Cuba testimony “quickly grew contentious when we discovered that Mr. Bolton had left instructions that we confine our comments to sources and methods issues or to substantive information that strengthened the under secretary’s argumentation in the proposed testimony.”
In another memo, a different agency official, also unidentified, expressed “serious concerns about the tone and tenor” of the testimony on Cuba that Mr. Bolton had proposed, saying it “misrepresents” the judgments of the intelligence agencies about not only B.W.,” biological weapons, “but also on terrorism.”
Christian Westermann of the State Department’s intelligence bureau complained that Mr. Bolton sought to declare, as the view of the government, that Cuba possessed a biological weapons program, rather than the more nuanced view of American intelligence agencies that “we think, but do not know, that Cuba has B.W.”
“This relates directly to an I.C. judgment,” Mr. Westermann wrote, using an abbreviation for intelligence community, “and is not a statement of opinion, and is therefore the I.C..’s responsibility to clear (or not clear).”
The disputes were never fully resolved, and Mr. Bolton never delivered the testimony, which had been scheduled before a subcommittee of the Foreign Relations Committee.
Drafts of the speech and comments about it that have been declassified also showed objections from intelligence agencies to Mr. Bolton’s plans to assert that earlier American intelligence judgments on Cuba might have underestimated the threat that Cuba posed because of the role played by a Defense Intelligence Agency analyst who was arrested in 2001 as a Cuban spy.
Not only in this incident, but many — Bolton was the Under Secretary on an an ideological tear, ready to mow down all who stood in his way.
He is ill-suited to the U.N. position, and today’s hearings will hopefully make that case even more clear.
— Steve Clemons