Other Angles on the Bolton Recess Appointment Story


There is a lot of turmoil around Washington on the Bolton recess appointment story that the Washington Post ran today.
Since I am traveling, I am not in a position to carefully weigh the veracity of other commentary, but it is clear that there may be other dimensions to this battle that did not appear in the Post report.
Here are some compelling points from someone very close to this battle — with solid, dependable relationships in the national security bureaucracy.
Among the points he shared with me:

1. This (the recess appointment story) may be a trial balloon by Bolton himself.
2. A call from the intelligence community came in firmly asserting that Bolton is dead and is being talked into withdrawing his nomination. Maybe this story is Bolton’s answer to those who wish he would gracefully withdraw.
3. Or perhaps the story is being floated by Cheney et al.
4. Its a fact that many at State and elsewhere are relieved that Bolton is out of the picture. (A new report came in tonight that Bolton was so vociferous and troublesome when the Adminstration and the British were trying to finish up with the denuclearization of Libya that Bolton was really slapped down. Hence Bolton’s efforts to spy in 2003/4 on Asst. Secretary of State William Burns’ activities in the region in the form of intercepts is viewed as quite plausible in some quarters.)
5. Bolton’s redefined role as a Washington-based UN Ambassador won’t suit Rice — who is out of the country right now. It is very convenient of Bolton and his advocates to raise this now in her absence.
6. Also Bolton’s plans to double his office space and flesh out his role as UN Ambassador comes very close to the line — if not violates — the inappropriateness of acting as Ambassador before you are confirmed.

One of the new lines of attack on the White House should be to press the administration on whether it supports or not Bolton’s pre-confirmation, pre-appointment machinations as America’s possible Ambassador to the United Nations.
Karl Rove was pushing the Bolton nomination so hard that he may have sent signals to Bolton that as far as he and the President were concerned, Bolton should already be “encumbering” the position — which would be illegal.
But the blurry line between inappropriateness and illegality doesn’t seem to bother these folks too much.
More soon.
— Steve Clemons