Thursday, April 28, 2005

Colin Powell in the attack - Condi Rice in trouble

Sidney Blumenthal provides an extremely interesting article in today’s Guardian on the campaign Colin Powell is now conducting to scuttle the Bolton nomination as Ambassador to the UN.

But now he [Powell] has re-emerged [from his retirement] to conduct a campaign to defeat President Bush's nomination of conservative hardliner and former undersecretary of state John Bolton as US ambassador to the UN.[...]

Blumenthal goes on to list Bolton's misdeeds and Powell's resulting actions.

[...]And after Bolton attempted to coerce a state department intelligence officer to agree to an unfounded report about nonexistent Cuban WMD, Powell personally assembled the entire intelligence staff to instruct them to ignore Bolton. When the British foreign secretary Jack Straw complained to Powell that Bolton was obstructing negotiations with Iran on the development of nuclear weapons, Powell ordered Bolton to be cut out of the process, telling an aide: "Get a different view." The British also objected to Bolton's interference in talks with Libya, and again Powell removed Bolton. But as much as he may have wanted to, Powell could not dismiss him because of his powerful patron: Vice-President Cheney.

The Bolton confirmation hearings have revealed his constant efforts to undermine Powell on Iran and Iraq, Syria and North Korea. They have also exposed a most curious incident that has triggered the administration's stonewall reflex. The foreign relations committee has discovered that Bolton made a highly unusual request and gained access to 10 intercepts by the National Security Agency, which monitors worldwide communications, of conversations involving past and present government officials. Whose conversations did Bolton secretly secure and why?

Staff members on the committee believe that Bolton was probably spying on Powell, his senior advisers and other officials reporting to him on diplomatic initiatives that Bolton opposed. If so, it is also possible that Bolton was sharing this top-secret information with his neoconservative allies within the Pentagon and the vice-president's office, with whom he was in daily contact and who were known to be working in league against Powell.

If the intercepts are released they may disclose whether Bolton was a key figure in a counter-intelligence operation run inside the Bush administration against the secretary of state, who would resemble the hunted character played by Will Smith in Enemy of the State. Both Republican and Democratic senators have demanded that the state department, which holds the NSA intercepts, turn them over to the committee.

Blumenthal also explains how Condi Rice, who achieved her current position by absolute loyalty to Bush and Cheney, is trying to put a lid on the information coming out of the State Department about Bolton. She is the one holding up the NSA intercepts.

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