Thursday, May 05, 2005

Lugar, Staff Hampering Bolton Investigation?

New York Times Bolton-reporter Douglas Jehl today echoes blogger Steve Clemons, reporting that Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Dick Lugar has "declined to endorse" (Jehl) or "tr[ied] to shut down" (Clemons) part of the committee's inquiry into John Bolton. Senator Biden on Friday submitted a list of nine "broad requests" to the State Department seeking information, three of which dealt with an allegation that Bolton tried to "toughen intelligence estimates" of Syria contrary to evidence. In his own letter to Secretary Rice, Lugar explicitly did not endorse the requests for information pertaining to Syria, or to another dispute concerning Sudan.

In his letter to Rice, Lugar specifically asks the Secretary to provide information per Biden's request concerning five other areas of inquiry. Lugar's letter is here, via Clemons. Considering the time frame (under the agreement worked out by committee staff, the investigation into Bolton must be completed by Friday), I don't disagree with Lugar's action. The five areas that he has requested information on are certainly the most important aspects of the matter and should be investigated most thoroughly. Of course, if time allows, the Syria and Sudan information should also be provided for analysis.

Clemons reports that Lugar's letter has had a "chilling effect" on the committee staff conducting the investigation, and that conflicts have also erupted between Republican committee staff and the personal staffs of several Republican senators. These senators, Clemons says, are trying to read the investigatory material and transcripts being produced - and the committee staff is not providing "digests of materials or highlighted passages of importance in the material. In other words, the Republican staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are engaged in trying to hinder access to important evidence on Bolton from THEIR OWN TEAM." If true, this is disturbing, and may lead to yet more delays in the process if Republican senators feel they have been unable to examine all the evidence.

More to come, no doubt!


At 5:46 PM, Blogger Robert Rouse said...

As if being in a perpetual red state isn't bad enough, it is stories like these that shame me when I admit to being from Indiana. I grew up thinking Dick Lugar was a fair man. He was my mayor when I was a teen. As I got more and more involved in studying politics, I came to realize what a partisan man Lugar can be.


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