Friday, May 06, 2005

Bolton Saga Continues

Here are some of the most recent developments in the Bolton nomination drama:

- According to Glenn Kessler in the Washington Post, Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff will interview Larry Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell. Wilkerson previously told reporters that Bolton would make an "abyssmal" UN Ambassador.

- Former Powell deputy Richard Armitage, in a surprise move, half-endorsed Bolton on Thursday in a statement to an AP reporter. "John Bolton is eminently qualified," Armitage said, adding "He's one of the smartest guys in Washington." Here's the half part though: asked if Bolton was a good choice, Armitage replied "It was the president's choice and I support my president." Hardly a ringing endorsement, if you ask me.

- In response to Senator Lugar's letter on Wednesday to Secretary Rice limiting the focus of the investigation somewhat, Biden sent a rebuttal note to the State Department. He writes that he disagrees with Lugar regarding the relevance of the information pertaining to Syria and Sudan that he'd requested, and adds

"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."

Steve Clemens has the full text of the Biden letter and more information. Secretary Rice, speaking for the State Department, said yesterday "We have every desire to have the committee have the information that it needs" and promised to get materials to the Senate "as rapidly as possible."

- Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte is reportedly "in discussions" with Intelligence Committee leaders Pat Roberts and Jay Rockefeller to determine how the Foreign Relations Committee will be able to examine transcripts of ten NSA intercepts requested by Mr. Bolton. No word yet on when or how those will be made available to the committee.


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