The White House and some of the Senators who had hoped to quickly move the Bolton nomination through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee counted on the American public’s ignorance of Bolton and their relative disinterest in this post at the United Nations.
Blocking Bolton or pushing him through, however, has now become a larger political battle in the country — not just between Democrats and Republicans — but actually within Republican circles. This battle is whether George Bush was honest or not in his commitment to start fresh with European allies and to rebuild global concensus on how to confront some of the great global problems of the day.
Some Bolton allies — including Michael Ledeen, Frank Gaffney, David Frum, and Cliff May — have launched ConfirmBolton.com. I’m thrilled. This is assuring that the profile and background of John Bolton become even more widely known. The more debate the better. It’s good for the country and for the nation that every nook, cranny, and edge of John Bolton’s long career to be perused and investigated before the vote on confirmation.
Here is an excerpt from a New York Times article just posted a short while ago, and it illustrates the tension in Republican circles:
Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said on CNN’s “Late Edition,” that if the abrasiveness is intended to change an idea or an intelligence report, or to hide or change policies to fit an individual’s agenda “then that bothers me.”
A Republican, Senator Arlen Specter, the Judiciary Committee chairman, said such matters needed to be looked at long and hard.
The postponement of the vote allows the panel time to examine at least a half-dozen allegations against Mr. Bolton that have emerged since he appeared before the committee on April 11.
President Bush has said the Democratic opposition is politically motivated, while Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has expressed confidence in Mr. Bolton.
Colin L. Powell, the former secretary of state, has expressed reservations.
With Powell, Armitage (by association), Lawrence Wilkerson, Carl Ford, Brent Scowcroft and other Republicans essentially opposed or doubtful about the appropriateness of John Bolton’s nomination to the U.N., there is a powerful Republican undercurrent of opposition. On the other hand, Lawrence Eagleburger joins Dick Cheney in essentially betting that confidence in John Bolton is worth more than a serious investigation or discussion with any of his victims.
On top of this, Eagleburger who has now put his own reputation on the line on behalf of John Bolton has NO IDEA what is in those National Security Agency intercepts that Bolton requested and read.
The NSA intercepts is not a “bullying matter.” These are our nation’s most secret secrets — and Bolton was using them for some reason that has not yet been made clear. Some suspect he was spying on his colleagues, particularly Jack Pritchard and perhaps another CIA officer.
Eagleburger has made a serious mistake in not keeping his powder dry until all the evidence unfolds — and TWN intends to hold him and others accountable if the NSA intercepts matter explodes.
Eagleburger should have waited for more information before embedding himself in this battle.
— Steve Clemons