John Bolton was a man obsessed with intelligence in his last job.
He was also a man who disliked most of those with whom he worked at the State Department, and he felt like he was constantly under siege from Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, who assigned some of his staff to “watch Bolton,” who was already known to be reckless and a “loose cannon” who made a habit of trying to undo some of the administration’s most delicate diplomatic initiatives — particularly with regard to North Korea.
Bolton was so paranoid about what his perceived enemies inside the State Department were doing to constrain him that he allegedly began to spy on them.
John Bolton may have wanted to know what was being said by some of our interlocutors abroad about their conversations and interactions with U.S. officials, according to several former State Department officials. One way that Bolton tried to get at what was being said about him, or what impressions others had of him so he could measure the reaction that some of his public speeches and positions were generating, was to request the nation’s most secret secrets: intercepts from the National Security Agency.
Senator Chris Dodd wants to know what Bolton was looking for in the unusually high number of NSA intercepts that he requested. Was Bolton using the intercepts to help him in personal battles against others in the State Department? or perhaps because he was insecure in his own standing in the State Department? or was he trying to create an independent intelligence capacity to help battle the CIA and State Department Intelligence & Research Bureau (INR) which he felt were interpreting too softly the raw intelligence coming in?
TWN has learned that what is being provided to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are “summaries” of the super secret transcripts Bolton looked at.
TWN suggests that the Committee staff read what Bolton read. Read the intercepts. Don’t give any parties the ability to smudge over or hide what Bolton was up to.
His actions were unusual, and the U.S. Senate in order to perform its oversight function competently and well depends on a full investigation of the intercepts.
Read them. In full.
And if they aren’t made available before tomorrow’s vote, DON’T VOTE.
This matter is too important.
— Steve Clemons