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April 12, 2005

Screwed on Bolton
Posted by Suzanne Nossel

Pretty disheartening stuff on Bolton.  A staunch conservative risks his career to come forward and say that Bolton is a “serial abuser” of underlings who challenge his views.  Steve Clemons understandably thinks, upon hearing the testimony, that this will be the strike that moves the needle.  Yet this apparently does nothing to move conservatives on the SFRC off the idea that the President’s deserves "deference" in his choice of nominee.

Disturbing on a bunch of levels:

Perhaps the most important finding of the 9/11 Commission and the Silberman-Robb Reports (see attached) was that the U.S. intelligence establishment to take adequate account of dissenting views, and the need for steps to ensure that dissenters get a full hearing in future.  But when confronted with a nominee who seems to fit the worst of this pattern, the Senators look the other way.

Also, there’s no question that having an Ambassador with a track record of vindictiveness will have a chilling effect on the staff at USUN.  With 190 delegations to deal with, an Ambassador (as well as the mothership back at Main State) must rely on staff to pick up on attitudes and positions and help formulate strategy.  If Bolton is unwilling to brook dissenting views, cautious foreign and civil service officers will keep their mouths shut, limiting the quality of analysis that goes both to Bolton and to Washington.

I don’t know whether an analyst fired for refusing to clear inaccurate statements concerning U.S. intelligence would be able to invoke the protection of a whistleblower statute. 

But, particularly given the findings of the 9/11 and Silberman-Robb Commissions, it seems pretty clear that some form of protection is needed (never mind that the head of Bush’s Whistleblower Agency is himself under investigation by the FBI on charges of corruption and cronyism -- actually, you should mind, this too is a symptom of exactly the same problem that will lead to Bolton’s being confirmed despite today’s revelations . . . ).

In other words, if isn’t in violation of existing law, Bolton’s action in attempting to get the analyst booted probably ought to be.

According to Laura Rozen, there are more State staffers willing to come forward with similar stories.  But it doesn’t sound as though their testimony will make any difference. 


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Well, I'm just wondering what evidence there is from the last four years that the Republican leadership is, in any way, pervious to facts on foreign policy.

Bolton does, in that light, look like the authentic face of the Bush-era GOP.

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