Friday, April 22, 2005

Bolton: Outrageous Outtakes
April 22, 2005
Bolton: Outrageous Outtakes
by Ari Berman

** The delay in the John Bolton proceedings may be the first time a Bush Administration confirmation hearing has produced an unexpected result. The unforeseen outcome was all the more amazing considering how Republicans attempted to shove Bolton down the Senate's throat. In a precursor to the brewing battle over judicial nominations, Republican Majority Leader Bill Frist shut down all Senate business on the day of the vote, preventing Democrats from seeking more time. When Senator Barbara Boxer objected, a majority of Republicans overruled her, prompting the Senate to meet that day, confident that only a rushed hearing could give Bush his man at the UN.

** The Senate Foreign Relations Committee didn't get any help from the State Department either. The 17th paragraph of a Washington Post article on Wednesday contained the revelation that "Condoleezza Rice told her senior staff she was disappointed about the stream of allegations and said she did not want any information coming out of the department that could adversely affect the nomination." Condi's gag order may violate 18 U.S.C Section 1505 of US law, which prohibits any threat that results in impediment of an investigation. The penalty? A fine or imprisonment of five years. We prefer the latter.

** What's more, the hearings revealed that Bolton was eavesdropping on confidential National Security Agency intercepts, possibly to gain ammunition to use against his internal State Department enemies, more and more of whom keep turning up. Bolton made ten such demands, but the State Department and NSA still have not provided the intercepts, leaving the committee in the dark about which officials Bolton spied on and why. As Laura Rozen writes, "John Bolton misuses intelligence the way communists use it in police states." And the Bush Administration hides intelligence the same way the Politburo used to.

** Luckily for the country, Republican George Voinovich emerged as the lone voice of Republican opposition. Immediately after his objection derailed a vote, the Republican attack squad went into action. An ad running in Voinovich's home state of Ohio by the anti-UN group Move American Forward takes the form of a folksy husband and wife conversation: "Wife: Shame on Senator Voinovich. After the Democrats smeared Condoleeza Rice for Secretary of State and Alberto Gonzales for Attorney General, how could Voinovich side with the Democrats in smearing John Bolton? Husband: It seems like Senator Voinovich has become a traitor to the Republican Party. Wife: Enough's enough." Yes, enough's enough. It's time for Rice and Gonzales to be re-confirmed.

** If the Committee hearings didn't blow to pieces Chairman Richard Lugar's "moderate" cover, his decision last week to support Bill Frist's nuclear option for judicial nominees certainly did. "I would not take a stand against my party's view," Lugar explained. That's clear. But taking a stand for a UN ambassador and right-wing judiciary he so obviously loathes makes Lugar's fealty all the more revolting. Even Bolton's old boss, Colin Powell, long considered the "good soldier," has refused to back his discordant deputy this time around.