August 2, 2005, 9:15 P.M.
Some Call It Treason:
President Bush has once again demonstrated how completely out of touch with reality he is and how little he cares about anyone, regardless of their political party, who disagrees with him. This week Bush ignored the Senate and members of his own party when he did an end run around the Senate and installed embattled nominee John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations. This ends a five-month battle over Bolton’s appointment.
During the confirmation hearings, the Senate heard evidence of Bolton of abusing subordinates and twisting intelligence to fit his conservative ideology. Although no wrongdoing rising to the level of actionable abuse or violations of the law occurred, there was certainly ample evidence that Bolton is a bully who demonstrates no real aptitude for the job of ambassador. “This post is too important to leave vacant any longer, especially during a war and a vital debate about U.N. reform,” Bush said. He said Bolton had his complete confidence.
Bush put Bolton on the job in what is known as a recess appointment. A recess appointment is an avenue available to the President when the Congress is in recess. The Constitution permits the President to make a recess appointment and the appointment legally lasts until a newly elected Congress takes office in January 2007.
Within five hours of his appointment, Bolton arrived at the U.S. mission in New York to begin work. Bolton joined Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at the announcement ceremony and said he was honored and humbled by the President’s appointment. “It will be a distinct privilege to be an advocate for America’s values and interests at the U.N. and, in the words of the U.N. charter, to help maintain international peace and security,” he said.
This is an interesting statement since the biggest sticking point with Bolton was his active criticism of the UN and his less than stellar commitment to U.S. Membership in the UN. Of course Bush shares Bolton’s nationalistic approach to the UN and apparently wants to send a message with this appointment. Bush justified this back door nomination claiming that Bolton had been supported by a majority of the Senate but that “because of partisan delaying tactics by a handful of senators, John was unfairly denied the up-or-down vote that he deserves.”
Bush had refused to give up on the Bolton despite the fact that the Senate had voted twice to sustain a filibuster against his nominee. Democrats and some Republicans had raised questions about Bolton’s fitness for the job, particularly in view of his harsh criticism of the United Nations.
This appointment, and the way it was handled is just more evidence of the disrespect that the President, his advisors and his supporters have for the American political process and for the role of the US as a player on the world stage. These issues serve to further weaken our country. When viewed in light of the Valerie Plame outing by Karl Rove, there is a clear signal emanating from the administration that politics comes before global citizenship, and patriotism.
One of the principal complaints against our intelligence services in the wake of 9/11 was that we lacked human assets. The CIA was tasked with mending our overseas human intelligence assets and to improve our ability to infiltrate organizations operating against our interests. To do that, we ask Americans to risk their lives and to risk the lives of their contacts in order to gain valuable information. In virtually every country in the world, spying is illegal and thus our agents regularly entice others to break the law. In order to do this, they must be able to convince their sources that they will be protected. They lose credibility when our President shows a disdain for the law, and when his man Rove can give up one of our own agents to get back at her husband for being outspoken in criticizing the administration. More importantly however the, message is that nothing, other than political advantage, is important.
Whether or not one could determine who Plame was from her husband’s Who’s Who listing or not is not the issue. Plame was a covert CIA operative and her identity was given up by the most powerful man in the White House because her husband debunked a lie told by the President in his State of the Union address. Clear message here: Only politics is sacred. You are either with us or against us. The problem is that there is little incentive for anyone outside this country to help us if there is a chance that somewhere in the chain of command there is someone who might get “outed” for similar reasons. There is an obvious chilling effect on human resources at work here and that weakens our ability to gather intelligence and thus to defend ourselves. Some might call this treason.