Senator Rockefeller’s Dilemma on Bolton


Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) does not support confirmation of John Bolton as America’s Ambassador to the U.N.
The only problem is that he knows more about Bolton than nearly any other Senator and can’t do much with what he knows.
Rockefeller and Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Pat Roberts (R-KA) received a classified briefing over two weeks ago from Deputy Director for National Intelligence Michael Hayden on the NSA intercept material that Bolton requested during his four year tenure as Under Secretary of State for International Security and Arms Control. Specifically, Bolton requested to know the ‘identities’ of U.S. officials’ names that are routinely scrubbed from top-secret NSA intercepts.
TWN has learned that most of the intercepts are clustered around two periods of time in 2003 and 2004. Speculation abounds that the intercepts may show patterns of serious misjudgement on Bolton’s part and a ‘personal vanity’ trying to learn what others were saying about him — not an appropriate justification for delving into the nation’s ‘most secret’ secrets.
Since the Hayden briefing of Rockefeller and Roberts, others have been called to the Committee for further investigation of this matter — including the Bolton-victimized State Department INR analyst Christian Westermann and Bolton’s former chief of staff, Fred Fleitz.
Interestingly, Fleitz never gave up his portfolio of responsibilities at the CIA while he was working for Bolton — which thus helps explain why so much unpackaged intel was constantly coming from certain corners of the CIA to bolster Bolton’s crusades. Interestingly, Fleitz, on Bolton’s behalf, was playing the CIA and State INR off of each other, constantly cherry-picking the intel that fit Bolton’s needs and rarely respecting either CIA intel packaging procedures, or State Department INR procedures.
The Intelligence Committee also met other intelligence analysts as well — and there is an ongoing “inquiry” into what Bolton and Fleitz did with the intelligence they lifted from the NSA intercepts. Some might even call this an “investigation” into Bolton.
However, the SSCI does not have jurisdiction in matters related to the confirmation hearings of John Bolton — but it does have powers to consider whether laws were broken — even the spirit of the law when it comes to potential breaches of national security-related intelligence protocols.
Media with intelligence shops need to dig further into this SSCI investigation and learn what state the Bolton investigation is in.
Senator Pat Roberts does not want to proceed, but Rockefeller has failed to give his consent to any letter to the Foreign Relations Committee about Bolton that white-washes what was learned from the NSA briefing.
And note: Senator Roberts and Rockefeller did not receive the list of “names” that Bolton received. Thus, there was enough that was worrisome in the Hayden briefing to warrant further inquiry.
It seems to me to be highly unusual and wrong-headed for Frist to push a vote on Bolton when in fact there is an active investigation underway about Bolton and his former Chief-of-Staff in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Frist should speak with Senator Pat Roberts to see “how bad” things are on Bolton. That should not be a classified revelation by Roberts.
But the worst case for the country — for both sides of the aisle frankly — is that Bolton makes his way forward, possibly squeaking by with a narrow confirmation — and then leaks begin to occur about these NSA intercepts that indict Bolton and Fleitz’s recklessness with sensitive national security intelligence.
Rockefeller knows more than most. I speculate that he is keeping Senator Roberts from white-washing what they have found, but Rockefeller cannot easily reveal his concerns. What needs to be nudged forward is that a real inquiry on Bolton is still in process.
That inquiry should be completed before any United States Senator considers the Bolton nomination. They may not wait.
But those who failed to consider the national security questions involved before rushing to support Bolton may find themselves on very fragile ground if the forthcoming leaks tell the story that many suspect.
— Steve Clemons