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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Top Ten Problems With John Bolton

1. Bolton’s role in the Bustani Affair helped block alternatives to the Iraq war. It reflected his personal as well as the administration’s bullying style of "diplomacy" when it came to clearing obstacles to attacking Iraq and demonstrates his personal disdain for international law and institutions, especially the UN. (Bustani was a UN chemical weapons expert that called for sending specialists to Iraq in 2002 to search for chemical weapons. Bolton was the point man for the Bush administration’s improper campaign to have him fired. Perhaps Bolton and the Bush people knew he’d find as much WMD in Iraq as US search teams have found since. Click for more information.

2. Bolton may have requested secret information from the National Security Agency about Syria’s weapons programs in order to exaggerate the advancement of those programs in order to build a case that Syria posed a serious or imminent threat. So far, documents related to this issue are being closely guarded by the White House, which refuses to show them to the Senate committee overseeing Bolton’s nomination process. What is there to hide?

3. Exaggerating or inventing information about countries Bolton doesn’t like wasn’t exclusive to Syria. Bolton tried to get two intelligence analysts fired because they disagreed with him about the possibility that Cuba had the potential to develop chemical and biological weapons. Witnesses stated that one of these individuals was Christian Westermann, an intelligence analyst with the State Department. Bolton argued with Westermann in 2002 while preparing for a speech in which he alleged Cuba had a biological weapons program. Cuba hadn’t done what Bolton claimed.

4. Bolton then misled the Senate under oath about punishing people who disagreed with him. Bolton misled the committee by testifying under oath that he did not seek to discipline, or have removed, intelligence analysts with whom he disagreed. But in the case of an intelligence officer for Latin America, the report said documents showed Bolton and his staff "actively discussed efforts to punish and remove the NIO (national intelligence officer) for several months in the summer and fall of 2002." Is this a paranoid personality?

5. Bolton has nothing but disdain for the UN and international law. Bolton once said, "there’s no such thing as the United Nations," adding that if the UN’s building in New York "lost 10 stories, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference." In 1998 he even spoke against the payment of any further U.S. dues to the world body. In the Bustani Affair, Bolton personally used the threat of withholding US dues to pressure other countries into supporting the call to fire Bustani. Bustani later was found to have been fired improperly and was offered a reinstatement.

6. Bolton was among the "ordinary citizens" who led a near riot in Tallahassee demanding an end to the vote count in the 2000 election in Florida. Bolton was a Bush-Cheney loyalist along with all of the other "ordinary" people that stormed a Tallahassee library that day. He was quoted by the media a saying, "I’m with the Bush-Cheney team, and I’m here to stop the count."

7. Bolton does not believe in diplomacy. After Ambassador Thomas Hubbard asked him to tone down the text of a speech commenting on Kim Jong-Il, Bolton refused, decided to forego diplomacy on the eve of crucial talks with North Korea and called Kim Jong-Il a "tyrannical dictator." North Korea then refused to have any dealings with Bolton. Despite what one thinks of Kim Jong-Il, Bolton’s inability to close his mouth precludes him from diplomatic service. The stakes involved in talks with North Korea included finding ways of avoiding escalating global nuclear conflict. How much Bolton contributed to the present impasse isn’t clear.

8. Bolton puts the "faulty" in faulty intelligence. According to senior intelligence officials testifying under oath to the Senate committee, Bolton’s draft testimony prepared for a House hearing on Syria in 2003 went well beyond what the intelligence community could clear. Several federal departments and agencies objected to what Bolton intended to say.

9. Bolton is a loose cannon. After trying to overstep his authority in the Syria testimony in 2003, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage (at the time) instituted an extraordinary policy to address the problem, requiring all of Mr. Bolton’s public presentations to be cleared by Larry Wilkerson, Secretary Colin Powell’s chief of staff, or by the Deputy Secretary himself. Being such a loose cannon in a regime of loose cannons suggest that Bolton may be over the edge.

10. Bolton abused his power and access to secret intelligence to find out information about US individuals and businesses. According to the New York Times, the Bush administration has acknowledged that Bolton did this. Senate Democrats are concerned that Bolton abused his authority, for personal and political reasons: in order to keep track of opponents of administration pollicies but also to keep tabs on intelligence officials with whom he has had disagreements in the past. Definitely a paranoid personality in the Nixon vein.

--Contact Leo Walsh at pa-letters@politicalaffairs.net.


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