With Some Troubling Issues on his Mind, Senator Biden writes to Secretary of State Rice


Senator Biden wrote yesterday to Condoleeza Rice indicating that he and Senator Lugar disagree as to the importance of the information requests that the minority staff has made of the State Department in the John Bolton investigation.
Here is the letter.
A key excerpt of the Biden letter:

Yesterday, Chairman Lugar gave me a copy of his letter to you suggesting that State may not be able to accomodate the request in the time allowed and that parts of the request are “extremely broad” or of “marginal relevance.”
That is not my view. The documents in question go directly to an issue the Committee has been pursuing, namely whether in speeches and testimony, Mr. Bolton sought to exaggerate the conclusions that could reasonably be drawn from available intelligence. The Chairman and I disagree about the extent, but not the fact, of their relevance. If more time is needed to produce these documents, please let me know.

So far, Biden is firm in the letter, but not acknowledging the leverage he has.
Here is the kicker:

I also wanted to make sure that you know the basis upon which I committed to move forward with a Committee meeting and vote on this nomination on May 12. As I wrote to the Chairman on April 22, that committment “is predicated on my expectation, as I stated on Tuesday (April 19, at the first Committee business meeting on the nomination) that the Executive Branch will cooperate in providing access to witnesses and documents. Assuming such cooperation, I will not seek to delay consideration of the nomination in the Committee beyond May 12, and I will urge my colleagues to do the same.”

Well, to any close observers of this process, it is clear that “the deal” between Lugar and Biden is eroding fast.
Demetri Sevatopulo of the Financial Times has been doing a great job covering the NSA intercepts issue, which has also been throwing off the schedule that the Senators had agreed on as the NSA has yet to provide access to requested intercept documents.
I learned just a short while ago that Negroponte’s office is now negotiating with Senator Pat Roberts, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, on how to proceed with the intercepts and providing access to some Senators — though it is not clear at all that any Senators of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee would be provided access. Yet another bizarre twist — and of course — all sorts of turf and jurisdictional problems are proliferating.
More later.
— Steve Clemons