On the heels of revelations about Bolton’s abusive behavior towards analysts whose work product didn’t suit his purposes — and growing unease among GOP senators before the Tues. vote (Hagel quote below fold) — comes today’s WaPo:
Iran, IAEA Matters Were Allegedly Kept From Rice, Powell
By Dafna Linzer, April 18, 2005; Page A04
John R. Bolton … seeking confirmation as the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations — often blocked then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and, on one occasion, his successor, Condoleezza Rice, from receiving information vital to U.S. strategies on Iran, according to current and former officials who worked with Bolton.
As Steven D would say, this is unAmerican. Playing games with intel is dangerous. More below …
Update [2005-4-18 10:3:37 by susanhbu]: Reports the LA Times today:
“We need a uniter,” Hagel said on CNN’s “Late Edition.” “We need a builder. We need someone who will reach out to our friends and our allies at the United Nations.”
And the Nebraska senator hedged when asked whether he would vote for Bolton. “At this point, I will,” he said. “But I have been troubled with more and more allegations, revelations, coming about his style, his method of operation.”
Hagel is second in seniority among the 10 Republicans on the committee. With eight Democrats on the panel, a vote by Hagel against Bolton could tip the result into a tie — an event that would send the matter to the full Senate without a recommendation.
Sometimes, reports WaPo, “career officials found back channels to Powell or his deputy, Richard L. Armitage, who encouraged assistant secretaries to bring information directly to him.” Get that? Armitage — hardly a retiring wallflower type himself — had to intervene and encourage that the information be brought directly to him, instead of through Bolton.
But, in other cases, “the information was delayed for weeks or simply did not get through.”
Two officials described a memo that had been prepared for Powell at the end of October 2003, ahead of a critical international meeting on Iran, informing him that the United States was losing support for efforts to have the U.N. Security Council investigate Iran’s nuclear program. Bolton allegedly argued that it would be premature to throw in the towel. “When Armitage’s staff asked for information about what other countries were thinking, Bolton said that information couldn’t be collected,” according to one official with firsthand knowledge of the exchange.
As WaPo points out, “[i]ntra-agency tensions are common in Washington, and as the undersecretary of state in charge of nuclear issues, Bolton had a lot of latitude to decide what needed to go to the secretary.”
Rice, who was frozen out of critical intel, is now freezing out Bolton:
Publicly, Rice has staunchly defended Bolton’s credentials and urged the Senate to quickly confirm him. But privately, officials said, she has kept him out of key discussions on Iran since taking over in January.
The vote is tomorrow:
Testimony last Tuesday by former State Department intelligence chief Carl W. Ford Jr. had left several of them shaken after he described Bolton as a “serial abuser” who picked on junior officers who dared to challenge him. Chafee had said that Ford’s testimony was strong but that it did not show a pattern.
But, yesterday, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) said the allegations were beginning to pile up.
“If there’s nothing more that comes out, I will vote for Bolton,” Hagel told CNN’s “Late Edition.”