Senator Hagel is not well-known for his sense of humor, and that is one of the reasons I like him so much. According to one foreign policy maven I am with at a conference at the Wye Plantation Conference Center this weekend, Hagel-humor just couldn’t keep up with a zesty and hilarious performance by Bill Richardson at the recent Gridiron Dinner.
He takes his job very seriously, and while clearly conservative, he detests radicalism and doesn’t like to see the institutions responsible for generating good public policy corrupted by bad ideologically-inspired agendas. In his mind, the Soviet Union excelled in party officionados commandeering the helm of government from civil servants who had jobs to do.
According to the Los Angeles Times‘ long-term political and international correspondent Sonni Efron, Hagel is disturbed by what he has learned about John Bolton, and his support has wobbled — and not wobbled in a direction towards Bolton.
Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., signaled yesterday that his support for the nomination of John Bolton as U.N. ambassador was wavering after new reports that Bolton had ordered an intelligence analyst removed from his job.
The analyst, a State Department employee who now works on Hagel’s Senate staff, is the third intelligence analyst who was reported to have been threatened or intimidated by Bolton, who has served since 2001 as undersecretary of state for arms control and international security.
“Sen. Hagel is likely to be supportive [of Bolton], but he needs to be assured there are not additional serious areas of concern,” Hagel spokesman Mike Buttry said yesterday, adding Hagel was “troubled” by the new information.
Posing potential new problems, Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are investigating as many as five additional incidents in which Bolton’s demeanor toward State Department subordinates has been questioned, according to Senate staff members from both parties. In a confirmation hearing this week, testimony indicated Bolton demanded the removal of two intelligence analysts who disagreed with him.
According to Hagel’s staff, the Senator is still with Bolton UNLESS there are additional areas of concern that emerge.
Well, after Bolton clearly lied about his attempts to intimidate the intelligence bureaucracy until he got the intel results he wanted and lied about the issue of trying to have people removed from their positions, one of whom now is detailed to Senator Hagel’s office, it would seem that most decision-makers would have enough to vote no.
But I am in a position to say that new information will hit the press — most likely tomorrow — that takes Bolton’s intelligence obsessions and reckless behavior to yet another level of concern.
What I think and suspect is coming is a bombshell set of articles that profile Bolton’s obsession with intelligence and how his zealotry and overwhelming desire to compete with Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and Secretary of State Colin Powell resulted in the frequent mismanagement of intelligence for both personal aggrandizement as well as foreign policy crusades that undermined the effectiveness of his boss, the Secretary of State.
So, Senator Hagel — please stay tuned.
And Senator Hagel, maybe you should spend some time with Mr. Ryu, the detailee in your office. He’s had a very hard time — not because of any fault of his own. Like so many others left behind in John Bolton’s wake, he too is a victim.
— Steve Clemons