"No matter how paranoid or conspiracy-minded you are, what the government is actually doing is worse than you imagine." - - - William Blum

April 27, 2005

Clemons on Bolton

For all Left is Right readers who want to keep up with the John Bolton saga and don't want to spend hours searching for legitimate information, your best bet is to start at The Washington Note, a highly reputable blog by Steve Clemons, who "specializes in U.S. foreign policy matters, with significant experience both in Asia-Pacific and transatlantic policy matters, as well as broad international economic and security affairs". Here's a sample:

Tomorrow the administration will receive a letter co-signed by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar and Ranking Member Joseph Biden requesting that the 10 NSA intercept transcripts requested by John Bolton during his tenure as Under Secretary of State be made available to Senators and cleared senior Committee staff.

This is a very important step because if the administration fails to comply, it is now not only defying Senator Chris Dodd who has been trying to get a response on these transcripts for weeks, it is defiance of Chairman Lugar.

There are two theories as to why the NSA transcripts have not been provided yet. The first is that there are complicated protocols and precedence issues involved with the NSA providing these materials. I do not have evidence just yet of the case, but I have heard that there is in fact a precedent of the NSA providing intercept material to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in another circumstance. These kinds of intercepts are among America's most secret kind of secrets -- and this request for a rather large number of intercepts is significant. There may also be genuine concerns about protecting sources and methods of intelligence collection -- and not having certain kinds of information leak out that could conceivably endanger national security.

The second is that this is a smoke screen that the State Department and Condoleeza Rice and others are manipulating to drag out the process of getting vital information on Bolton's interest in the various U.S. officials named in the transcripts.

Sources tell TWN that the State Department has not signed off on NSA providing the transcripts and that the issue involved is not only resolving the logistics of making the transcripts available -- but also working with State collaboratively so as not to inadvertently harm various diplomatic agendas or people mentioned.

The bottom line is that Dodd and others have worked for a very long time to get into the transcripts -- and the administration has hid behind drag-their-feet protocol matters. NSA also had the audacity to claim that they would provide information only to the Senate Intelligence Committee. I'm sure that as miffed as Senator Lugar was with some Members of his Committee that the Bolton matter was dragged out an extra three weeks, such a response from the NSA and State Department would be equally irritating, if not more.

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