Friday, June 10, 2005

Dems Try Again for Bolton Compromise

Doug Jehl's back on the Bolton-beat with a Saturday New York Times article outlining the latest attempt by Democrats to work out a compromise with the Administration over information concerning disputed NSA intercepts. On Thursday, Senators Dodd and Biden sent a letter to Pat Roberts and Jay Rockefeller, the top senators on the Intelligence Committee, in which they suggest that DNI Negroponte identify whether any of some three dozen "names of concern" are among those requested by Bolton from the NSA-monitored conversations.

Jehl notes that "a Republican Congressional official" expressed concern at the number of names on the list, saying that previous requests had centered around fewer names. Apparently to counter the inclusion of more names, Biden and Dodd say they will drop their demand to see the names provided that Roberts and Rockefeller are able to view them:

"If there is any overlap between our 'names of concern' and those provided to Mr. Bolton by the N.S.A., we would request your assistance as chairman and vice chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence in understanding whether there was any inappropriate use of the 'names of concern' by Mr. Bolton or his staff. If, on the other hand, Director Negroponte informs both of you that no overlap exists, then we believe we will be one step closer to an up-or-down vote on the nomination."

Jehl's article notes that no comment from the White House or Negroponte's office was forthcoming. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, after his strong statement last night, said "So far, the administration has offered only one option: stonewall and obstruct. If the administration decides to work in good faith to give the Senate the information it deserves, Senate Democrats are ready to immediately give Bolton an up-or-down vote."

Thirty-six names does seem like quite a few. There is certainly negotiating room here, and I hope some accommodation can be reached that will give Bolton's opponents some part of the information they have requested. The ball remains in the Administration's court, and the choice is clear: accept a compromise and turn over some of the information, or further delay Bolton's potential confirmation.


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