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June 07, 2005

Bolton and Wolfowitz (Why Oh Why Are We Ruled by These Fools? Department)

More thuds and screams from inside the Topkapi Palace:

Here's Thomas Fingar of the State Department sticking his knife into the back of U.N. Ambassador-nominee John Bolton before Senate Foreign Relations:

PAUL FOLDI: What did Mr. Bolton say to you?

MR. FINGAR: That he was the President's appointee, that he had every right to say what he believed, that he wasn't going to be told what he could say by a mid-level INR munchkin analyst.

PAUL FOLDI: Did he actually use those terms?

MR. FINGAR: That's my recollection. He said that, one way or another, several times. Said that he wanted Westermann taken off his accounts. I said, "He's our CW/BW specialist, this is what he does." He expressed again, as I remember it, that he was the President's appointee, he could say what he wanted, I said, "John, I'm coming into this cold, let me go downstairs and find some facts." I said, "I don't even know what you're talking about in terms of a document." And I left. After I looked into it, saw the e-mail that accompanied it, I sent an e-mailed up, which re-versed two points that I made in his presence, again, which was that we had two fundamental obligations in handling material -- intelligence-derived materials to use in speeches -- one was protection of sources and methods to make sure things were properly cleared; and the other was to make sure that policymakers were aware when they were going to say something that would not be supported by the Intelligence Community. That if asked, "Do you agree with this?" that the Intelligence Community would say yes, or no. That we owed it to him to flag that, and I thought that is what Christian was doing.

PAUL FOLDI: What did you tell Mr. Westermann? Did you get a chance?

MR. FINGAR: I didn't see him until the next day, as I remember, and I told him what had transpired in the conversation. I told him that he, Mr. Bolton, wanted him taken off of those accounts. I said we had no intention of doing that, no to worry about it, he was our CW/BW analyst...

FRANK JANNUZI: Was Mr. Westermann ever disciplined, or punished for his conduct in the clearance of this language?

MR. FINGAR: No....

FRANK JANNUZI: Subsequent to this incident, it's our understanding Mr. Westermann was instructed -- perhaps by his office director, perhaps by someone else -- to essentially try to minimize his personal contact with Mr. Bolton, is that correct?

MR. FINGAR: Yes, it was in the context of -- he didn't have a particular responsibility to go to that office, to be the one carrying materials up there -- and it was sort of, why walk into a buzz saw?... I knew I was dealing with somebody who was very upset, I was trying to get the incident closed, which I didn't regard as a big deal. I knew John was mad. I assumed, when people are mad, they get over it. So, did I lean over in the direction of "Sure, we'll take responsibility"? He thanked me for it, at least as far as I'm concerned, in my dealings with Bolton, that closed it....

Here's Thomas Fingar being chosen by new intelligence czar John Negroponte as a principal deputy--as the guy who controls what Bush will see and what he will not see each morning:

Thomas Pincus: Thomas Fingar, head of State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, will become Negroponte's deputy director for analysis and chairman of the National Intelligence Council. The intelligence reorganization legislation gives Fingar responsibility and authority for setting standards and coordinating objectives for U.S. intelligence efforts, although it leaves the analysts at their respective agencies with the goal of allowing them to present independent views. Fingar will also have what a senior intelligence official involved in the process described to reporters Friday as "governance" over the President's Daily Brief, the summary of most important items given to Bush daily....

Negroponte does not seem unhappy at Fingar's use of colorful metaphors--"walking into a buzz saw"--or at failure to soften his recollection of what dealing with Bolton was like.

One correspondent writes that the Bush administration's treatment of Bolton and Wolfowitz is best thought of as like:

...that scene in "Animal House" where the dis-favored pledges are sent off to sit with the foreign-exchange students. The Bushies are mad at Bolton and Wolfowitz: they said that Iraq would be easy, and it isn't. But the Bushies don't want to fire them--one Richard Clarke and one Paul O'Neill are enough. So the Bushies send them to the U.N. and the World Bank: getting them out of the White House decision-making loop by sending them to sit with the foreign-exchange students. These moves are sold as promotions--or at least as lateral moves--but the real upshot is that Bolton will be interminably lectured by Third World ambassadors, that Wolfowitz will rack up the miles visiting the world's un-garden spots, and that both will be out of all important loops.

The problem with this, of course, is that the Bush administration is wrong to view the World Bank and the U.N. as unimportant backwaters where nogoodniks can be safely parked.

The jobs of World Bank President and U.N. Ambassador are key to the U.S.'s foreign policy effort: they are how we deploy a great deal of our soft power.

Posted by DeLong at June 7, 2005 10:03 PM