O The sum and substance of the charges leveled by such individuals seem to come down to this: For the past four years, Secretary Bolton has worked tirelessly to use diplomatic and other tools to call attention to and ameliorate pressing national security problems. Doing so has required him to overcome considerable institutional inertia, ideologically motivated opposition and chronic bureaucratic skullduggery.
Along the way, Mr. Bolton has clearly bruised some egos. But he did not manufacture or distort intelligence, get people fired for actions that even their supervisors considered to be inappropriate or engage in punitive measures that could conceivably be accurately characterized as ?serial abuse? of subordinates.
At the eleventh hour, the attack on Secretary Bolton has come up with a heretofore unknown charge: According to Monday?s Washington Post, unnamed State Department sources claim that the Under Secretary deliberately withheld information from his superiors related to diplomatic and other aspects of Iran?s proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
There is a certain irony to this accusation, whose timing smacks of a last-gasp bid to derail the Bolton nomination: It ostensibly rests on information ?back-channeled? to those superiors by Mr. Bolton?s subordinates in order to circumvent him and the normal reporting channels. At the same time, Secretary Bolton is being taken to task for allegedly circumventing similar channels to secure information from the Central Intelligence Agency. He is said to have done so in order to ensure that intelligence information he was relying upon was not being distorted by analysts with their own agenda in Foggy Bottom?s Office of Intelligence and Research.
Generally speaking, government works best when there is an abundance of information. Intelligence analysts are seconded to agencies like the State Department ? and not just John Bolton?s office ? precisely in order to facilitate the timely sharing of relevant data with policy-makers. And, while senior officials are entitled to make decisions about which of the countless number of memos generated every day they deem worthy of passing up the line and when, Secretaries of State generally rely as much on direct contacts with their counterparts as staff memoranda to keep them apprized of allied views about pending issues.
Mr. Bolton?s experiences and conduct under clearly very difficult circumstances in the State Department over the past four years are, if anything, evidence that he is the right man for the UN job. After all, he is accustomed to dealing with institutions hostile to President Bush, his administration and its security policies. He has demonstrated the necessary diplomatic and bureaucratic skills needed to overcome myriad obstacles thrown in his way by opponents, foreign and domestic. And he has displayed the sort of principled tenacity that will certainly be even more necessary to truly reforming the United Nations than it has been to trying to get, and keep, the State Department on the President?s team.
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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