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Friday, July 22, 2005

Bolton Down the Hatches, or the Drain?

One thing I've wondered about for a long time is whether John Bolton fits into all this RoveWarLiesDeathGate stuff. I even suggested the possibility a while back, but I was fairly dismissive of it. I've actually been thinking that a call to Bolton would make a lot of sense for an MSM type for quite a while. And weeks (maybe even months) ago, on the way back from a movie in G'town, I told my lady that I wouldn't be shocked if the NSA intercepts were related to all this. She mocked me back then as paranoid (kind of like Bu$h Ate My Baby, aka my conservative friend Peter, likes to do) .

Times change.

Even so, Bolton is such a nut that the most plausible thing is he's dirty here, dirty there, and dirty everywhere -- you don't need the intercepts to be related to RWLDGate, even if they might be.

But I really am surprised that no one in the MSM got onto Bolton's case sooner. I say this partly b/c of his repeated involvement in all sorts of WMD scams on the public, partly b/c he's supposed to be tight with the VP's office, and most especially b/c of the State Department memo and all the back-and-forth between him and Carl Ford, whose name keeps turning up in RWLDGate stories. Not to mention Armitage, and to a lesser extent Powell, who are not rumored to be big fans of JB.

So when I read today's NYT piece by David Johnston, I was intrigued by this passage, buried way at the end of an A1 story, long after the jump:
Democrats who have been eager to focus attention on the case have urged reporters to look into the role of several other administration officials, including John R. Bolton, who was then under secretary of state for arms control and international security and has since been nominated by Mr. Bush to be ambassador to the United Nations.

In his disclosure form for his confirmation hearings, Mr. Bolton made no mention of being interviewed in the case, a government official said. In the week after Mr. Wilson's article appeared, Mr. Bolton attended a conference in Australia.

So what's notable about this passage? Several things:
  1. "Democrats...have urged reporters to look into the role...including John R. Bolton" -- I doubt this is a reference to my recent comment on this site, which means that folks who talk regularly to reporters (hmmm, Senate Dems?) have been on this for a while.

  2. The point about Bolton's disclosure form is important because there's apparently a section where you're asked to say whether you're involved in any way in any legal proceedings; this issue is discussed earlier in the same article. Read the second sentence I've excerpted, and focus on the phrase "a government official said". Why not "a WH official", "an Administration official", or something similar? Makes me think this is either a State person or, much more likely, a Senate source (the House doesn't have a role in confirmations, so you'd think Senate staff or Senators would be the most likely source here).

  3. I'm guessing that the disclosure form is signed under penalty of perjury. So what?, you ask -- maybe he just didn't testify. But here's David Shuster's Hardball report last night (courtesy of Steve Clemons):
    According to lawyers, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and undersecretaries, including John Bolton, gave testimony about this memo.
This stuff obviously raises a lot of questions. One possibility, noted by some folks at TPMCafe, is that Bolton testified months ago and no longer considered his involvement current. That would make you wonder why Karen Hughes and Robert Joseph felt compelled to mention their involvement, but it's certainly possible that people can differ on their interpretations of their obligations (it's also possible there is no discretion; I don't know what the form says).

But I want to point out a couple other things about the NYT article. First, it's written by Johnston, who I think is a GA (general assignment) reporter. But its notes say it was reported by Johnston, Richard Stevenson and Douglas Jehl, with contributions from Anne Kornblut. Stevenson is a WH guy, and Kornblut is a GA person at the Times, having covered the WH for the Boston Globe previously. No surprises there. As I understand it, though, Jehl is an intelligence/State guy. Interesting that he's involved in this article, and you have to think he's the one who checked out the Bolton stuff.

Which raises my second point. Why didn't someone just call Bolton? Doesn't that make more sense than simply reporting someone else's [I assume] comment about Bolton's disclosure form? It seems like the first thing you'd do in a reporter's shoes on this story. If they did call Bolton, why doesn't the story say that? If he refused to talk on the record, say that.

And what in the world is the significance of the fact that Bolton was in Australia the week after Wilson's column ran? Is that supposed to mean he couldn't have talked to reporters? Don't they have phones in Australia? And in any case, my money says that if Bolton's involved with reporters here, it has to do with Judy Miller, and it probably happened after Kristof's May 2003 column and before Wilson's July 2003 op-ed. I'd guess they talked around the time of the June 10, 2003 State Dept memo everyone is exercised about now. Which makes his travel to Australia in the second week of July a distraction.

Which, in turn, makes me wonder if Jehl called Bolton, who refused to speak on the record but told Jehl on background that he [Bolton] was in Australia after Wilson's column, knowing that Jehl could check that against official State documents, and thus it would get into the paper. If you think this is all paranoid (Peter, you still reading?), fine. But please explain to me (i) why no on-the-record call to Bolton, (ii) what the significance of the Australia thing is, and (ii) why it's in the paper.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm with you on the Australia thing. Jehl & Johnston obviously think Bolton's downunder jaunt has some kind of significance on the larger narrative. It would kind of work as cover for Bolton not being involved in the post-leak conspiracy. But it would seem more likely that Fitzgerald would be interested in what if any role Bolton had played pre-leak, maybe say in giving a head's up in re: the State memo to Scooter and his other buddies in the VP's office.

7/22/2005 4:19 PM  
Blogger Jonah B. Gelbach said...

i totally agree. see my "conspiracy" post from monday july 11.

thanks for the comment


7/22/2005 5:34 PM  
Anonymous lerxst said...

so looks like we can add Bolton to the list of probable perjurers:

Rove, Libby, Novak, Fleischer, Bolton...

am I forgetting any?

7/22/2005 6:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

on the TPMCafe thread, a poster confirmed that Bolton's handpicked assistant/virtual chief of staff, Fred Fleitz, is on loan from the CIA -- from the CIA's WINPAC. Valerie Plame worked at WINPAC. That's one helluva connection.

7/22/2005 10:16 PM  

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