Senators Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, and other members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — including Senator Lugar for that matter — have winnowed down evidence requests from the administration several times.
On April 29, 2005 — a full week before the agreed deadline of May 6 for evidence requests of the administration — Senator Biden made 9 evidence requests. Senator Lugar intervened on Thursday, May 5, to inform the State Department that it need only focus on five of these. It is now believed that the White House asked Senator Lugar to focus on those five that he concurred with Biden on — and to encourage the White House to ignore the other four, including very important material focusing on Bolton’s role in the administration’s Syria policy and the personal hand he played in generating a Heritage Foundation speech on the subject.
In any case, Senator Biden did winnow down the overall request to include all materials on Syria and the unedited NSA intercepts that Bolton had accessed during his tenure. Interest in Cuba, China, and other matters Bolton had meddled in was informally dropped by Biden — though the Committee staff maintains still that ALL of this information should have been provided if this were a normal nomination process.
Now, Senator Dodd has narrowed his request on the NSA intercepts, attempting to strike some kind of a deal with Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte. The two have spoken by phone on at least two occasions trying to find an arrangement that would give Senators access to what they need to make an informed judgment on Bolton’s use of this national security intelligence and satisfy Negroponte’s “security” concerns about the information.
One compromise would be submitting a list of names to Negroponte to see whether or not these are among the 19 names of U.S. officials provided by the NSA to John Bolton.
Clearly, Dodd is trying to break the logjam on the Bolton evidence issues — but at the time of this writing — the White House continues to stonewall and impede the investigation of Bolton.
Here is the most recent letter from Senator Dodd to Negroponte, written on 2 June 2005.
— Steve Clemons