Monday, June 06, 2005

Bolton News: Leaks, and a Compromise Offer

Steve Clemons at The Washington Note reported earlier today that one of the ten NSA intercepts John Bolton requested during his tenure as Undersecretary of State for Arms Control concerned Libya, and that "[t]he identity of the U.S. official requested by Bolton was William Burns, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs." Clemons does not tell us the date on this intercept request, but if it was after Bolton was removed from the Libya negotiations (at the request of the British), that would seem to go against arguments made by proponents of the Bolton nomination that all of the intercept requests he made were appropriate and applicable to work Bolton was doing.

This evening, Clemons adds (and clearly this is accurate, since he got the previous story from somewhere), that "the intelligence community is leaking material. Some elements of the intel community are irritated that John Bolton had such easy access to highly sensitive material - and misused it. The information leaked to TWN today and to Doug Jehl of the New York Times more recently may be part of a drip-by-drip effort to show the public what is being missed in the Bolton debate."

If we start seeing more leaks like that given to Clemons (assuming its accuracy) that are clearly coming from inside the intelligence community (no senators have seen the names of the American officials requested by Bolton, so the swiss-cheese nature of Capitol Hill cannot be blamed for this), it may make moot the requests from Democrats to get the information that they are using to stall proceedings for the moment.

This afternoon, Connecticut Democrat Chris Dodd offered a compromise on the requested documents, the AP reports. In a letter to Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte, Dodd "offered to send Negroponte a list of names, and if none are in the classified intercepts, 'the matter would be closed,'" says the AP article. "Dodd’s office declined to say who may be on such a list, and Negroponte’s office had no comment."

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Monday that while further action on Bolton is possible this week, but is not "certain."

Political Affairs has more on the Bustani allegation from this weekend.

[Update: Doug Jehl at the New York Times has this story on the Dodd proposal for Tuesday's edition. -- 10:07 p.m.]


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