Cross-posted at DailyKos.

Tomorrow’s New York Times reveals the “previously undisclosed role” of John E. McLaughlin, the deputy director of central intelligence, in stopping an “attempt in 2002 by John R. Bolton to remove the national intelligence officer for Latin America from his post.”

One former intelligence official said Mr. McLaughlin had “laid his body down” to block the request from Mr. Bolton.

This new disclosure by current and former intelligence officials “is being reviewed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee” along with a list of other charges against Mr. Bolton, Bush’s nominee as envoy to the United Nations.

Today’s Washington Post featured the third account of a State Dept. staffer — this one a young official working closely with then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell — ordered to be removed by Bolton “from duties in the State Department’s nonproliferation bureau in what U.S. officials described as a third attempt by Bolton to purge career officials he perceived as impeding his policy goals.”

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It appears the overriding impetus behind Bolton’s obsessive attempts to ruin the careers of CIA and State Dept. analysts stemmed in good part from Bolton’s need to get the analysis to fit his objectives. The State Dept. analysts paid a price for standing up to Mr. Bolton.

As Ray McGovern at wrote:

Many have asked how it could be that a comparatively small group of intelligence analysts in the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) was able to get it right on several key Iraq-related issues, while larger agencies like CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency–with, literally, a cast of thousands–got it so wrong. The answer is simple: INR had the guts to be the skunk at the picnic. That’s how. State Department analysts showed backbone in resisting White House pressure, as well as in-house prodding from the likes of Under Secretary of State John Bolton, to cook intelligence to the White House recipe.

The New York Times describes the crisis that required the intervention of CIA Deputy Director John McLaughlin:

In testimony last week, Mr. Bolton acknowledged that he had sought to have the intelligence officer, Fulton T. Armstrong, reassigned.


In his Senate testimony, Mr. Bolton described his request for Mr. Armstrong’s transfer, made during a visit to Stuart A. Cohen, then the acting chairman of the National Intelligence Council, in July 2002, as “one part of one conversation with one person one time.” He said he had acted because he had lost confidence in Mr. Armstrong and had not been satisfied with his performance on several intelligence matters.

Mr. Bolton’s responsibilities at the time included overseeing intelligence estimates on Cuba, though Mr. Armstrong did not report to him.

But in an interview on April 8 with the Senate committee staff, according to a memorandum written by the Democratic staff, Mr. Cohen described Mr. Bolton’s request as unusual, saying it was one of only two occasions he could recall in which senor Bush administration officials had traveled to C.I.A. headquarters to complain about one of his subordinates. The other occasion was a related visit by Otto Reich, a close ally of Mr. Bolton’s, who also sought Mr. Armstrong’s removal.


“Mr. Cohen listened to those concerns, took them seriously, fully investigated them and determined that they were without merit,” according to the summary written by the Democratic staff, which was made available late Friday. The notes say that Mr. Cohen presented the issue on several occasions to Mr. McLaughlin, and that Mr. McLaughlin stated that he was not going to remove Mr. Armstrong from his position.

One former intelligence official said Mr. McLaughlin had “laid his body down” to block the request from Mr. Bolton.

Bolton’s demands clearly caused a crisis among officials at the CIA as well as the State Dept.:

John C. Gannon, who preceded Mr. Cohen as chairman of the National Intelligence Council, said in an interview on Friday that he believed that Mr. Bolton’s behavior had been “inexcusable.”

“If you don’t like the results of analysis, then you don’t accept it,” said Mr. Gannon, who left government recently after serving as the Republican-appointed staff director of the Senate Homeland Security Committee. “But you don’t try to remove the people whose view you disagree with.”

The pressure to come up with the “correct” intelligence analysis weighed heavily, affecting inclusion in assignments:

Robert L. Hutchings, who succeeded Mr. Cohen as head of the intelligence council, said the effects of Mr. Bolton’s objections to Mr. Armstrong had lingered as late as last year, when the officer was not included in a briefing team assigned to discuss with other senior officials the result of a new intelligence estimate on Cuba to which Mr. Bolton had objected.

“There was a group of firebrands who we figured would not like the judgment,” Mr. Hutchings said in a telephone interview on Friday, making clear that he included Mr. Bolton among that group. “We anticipated that the findings would be unwelcome in some quarters, and we wanted to depersonalize this thing as much as we could, to make clear that it was the assessment of the intelligence community, and not a particular individual.” Mr. Hutchings now holds a teaching post at Princeton University.

“Democratic Congressional officials,” reports the NYTimes, “said the Senate committee was also reviewing an episode that was first disclosed Friday by The Washington Post.”

This case revolves around the transfer of a young career State Department officer, Rexon Y. Ryu, whom Mr. Bolton had accused of insubordination for failing to produce a document requested by Mr. Bolton’s chief of staff.

The WaPo article — titled “Bolton Faces Allegations That He Tried to Fire Analysts” — reports that “one of the officials recalled Bolton saying that he had a file on Ryu and did not want him to work on issues he was involved in.”

John Wolf, Ryu’s former boss, said that Ryu was a brilliant and dedicated civil servant, and that the allegations were found to be baseless.

Even from afar, it’s clear to me that John Bolton is a man who relentlessly, obsessively stalks those who don’t come up with what he wants to hear, and that Bolton’s anger and resentment against a number of individuals have lasted for years.

In testimony this week before the Senate, Carl Ford, the Assistant Secretary of State for the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) — characterized as “a man not for sale” — spoke of the dangers of the politicization of intelligence analysis and of Bolton’s brutal attempts to squeeze subordinates into giving him the intelligence he wanted:

Ford emphasized that politicization is the main danger to intelligence analysis.  He described politicization as a “team sport” since at least two are needed—the one exerting political pressure and the “weasel.”  He described in some detail Bolton’s attempt to bully an INR analyst into changing his conclusions to fit Bolton’s extreme views on Cuba’s biological warfare capability.  The analyst, who is several grade levels lower than Undersecretary Bolton but no weasel, stood firm and was treated to a torrent of verbal abuse.  Later, when Bolton made it clear to Ford that the analyst should be removed, Ford said, in effect, over his dead body.

In the end, the analyst’s firmness prevented Bolton from representing his extreme opinions on Cuba as the views of the U.S. intelligence community.  (Pity that this INR analyst apparently had no soul mate in courage among intelligence analysts of Iraq elsewhere in the community.)  To his credit, Ford gave his analyst strong support.  Nonetheless, this crass attempt at politicization threw such a fright into INR analysts that Ford decided to use the incident as an important teaching moment for staff and instituted defense-against-politicization training.

Emphases mine.

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