Thursday, May 26, 2005

Today's Senate Showdown

Newsweek has a good summary of the ongoing controversy on Bolton's request for 10 NSA intercepts involving Americans. Because the Bush administration is holding back on allowing Senate leaders to view the same sensitive documents, Bolton's critics plan to hold a cloture vote to extend debate on his nomination, not to filibuster but to pressure the adminstration to be more forthcoming.
The only Senators who have been briefed on the intercepts are Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts and Ranking Member Jay Rockefeller, who are constrained in what they can share with their colleagues. Even so, they were not allowed to see the names of the 19 Americans whose conversations were captured in the intercepts. Senator Rockefeller disclosed possible evidence that Bolton mishandled this sensitive material. Newseek reports that Senator Roberts sees the matter differently:
Roberts blamed the State Department’s alleged procedural failings on Carl Ford, a former head of State Department intelligence. (Coincidentally or not, Ford was the only witness to give scathingly critical testimony against Bolton at his public confirmation hearing.)
This story is not about Democratic opposition, but about Republican discontent with Bolton. A point that was consistently made by Senators Biden and Voinovich is that most of the criticism and damaging revelations about Bolton have come from Republican appointees.
TWN has posted Joe Biden's prepared remarks from yesterday.
The record presented by the Foreign Relations Committee is clear:
§ the documents we have uncovered;
§ the interviews with those who had to pick up the pieces in INR, in CIA, in the office of the Secretary of State, and in South Korea;
§ the testimony of former Assistant Secretary Carl Ford, a conservative Republican if ever there was one.
All of this record has given us clear warning that Mr. Bolton is the wrong man for the job.
Mr. Bolton’s appointment is not in the national interest.
Not included in Biden's prepared remarks was his comment that if the Senate held a secret ballot, Bolton wouldn't get more that 40 votes. Voinovich echoed hiis assessment, saying that Bolton wouldn't be confirmed in a secret ballot.

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