Dual Loyalties

My opinion on the people who shape our world

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: U.N.leash Woolly Bully Bolton

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: U.N.leash Woolly Bully Bolton: " OP-ED COLUMNIST
U.N.leash Woolly Bully Bolton
By MAUREEN DOWD

Published: April 27, 2005
Why are they picking on poor John Bolton? Everyone knows the man is perfect for the United Nations job.

For one thing, his raging-bull temperament is ideally suited to an organization steeped in global pettifoggers and oil-for-food pilferers.

The uncombed, untethered Mr. Bolton is fabulously operatic - the Naomi Campbell of the Bush administration, ready at a moment's notice to beat up on underlings.

Who doesn't want to see Old Yeller chasing the Syrian ambassador down the hall, throwing a stapler at his head and biting at his ankles?

Who doesn't want to see him foaming at the mouth - yes, it will be hard to tell - at the Cuban delegate over Castro's imaginary W.M.D.?

Who doesn't want to see him mau-mauing the Iranian mullahs?

Who doesn't want to see him once more misusing National Security Agency eavesdropping technology, this time to spy on Kofi and son?

Who doesn't want to see him outrage North Korea by calling Kim Jong Il a fat, maniacal munchkin?

Even if his suave statesmanship were not so perfectly suited to high-level diplomacy, Mr. Bolton should still get the job. A ruthless ogre who tried to fire intelligence analysts who disagreed with his attempts to stretch the truth on foreign weapons programs deserves to be rewarded as other Bush officials have been.

After all, he was in sync with the approach of Condi Rice, Paul Wolfowitz, Stephen Hadley and Bob Joseph - who were all up for big jobs after they torqued up intelligence to fit the White House's theological beliefs.

Condi breezed into the secretary of state job, even after she helped Dick Cheney gin up the Iraq war, ignoring reports debunking the notion of Iraqi nuclear tubes, and even after she told Congress she'd shrugged at the Aug. 6, 2001, presidential daily brief headlined "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States."

Mr. Wolfowitz was eager to sell the war, ignoring predictions of insurgency and possible civil war. So he and Donald Rumsfeld left our troops so stretched and vulnerable that they were reduced to using cardboard cutouts to stand sentry, and to jury-rigging Humvees that had not been properly armored, resulting in many lost limbs and lives.

So Mr. Wolfowitz now has the prestigious job of World Bank president.

George Tenet presided over the two biggest intelligence failures in modern history. He slam-dunked a Medal of Freedom out of them.

Just as Mr. Bolton and Mr. Cheney tried to shovel distortions into Colin Powell's U.N. speech, Mr. Hadley and Mr. Joseph put distortions into President Bush's State of the Union address.

Dick Cheney intimidated C.I.A. analysts before the war. And he and President Bush let North Korea and Iran race ahead with their nuclear programs, and let Osama roam free, while they indulged their idée fixe on Iraq. Their reward? A second term.

In the Bush 41 era, good manners and judiciousness were prized. In Bush 43's Washington, bristling and bullying are the cardinal virtues. Putting an ideological filter on reality is a good career move.

Once more using 9/11 as a rationale, Karl Rove told USA Today that the terrorist attacks proved that officials should "be contesting, not simply supinely receiving, information from security analysts." He also rejected a deal with Senate Democrats on judiciary nominations and defended the rip-out-their-eyeballs tactics of Mr. Bolton and Tom DeLay.

Mr. DeLay, who makes Donald Rumsfeld seem shy, created what The Washington Post called "an ethics-free zone" in the capital by bullying the House ethics panel, and now he and Dick Cheney are trying to bully the judiciary. Mr. Cheney also defended Mr. Bolton against criticism from the Colin Powell camp.

Colin Powell never got it: there's nothing wrong with a little abrasiveness to win global domination.

We should give the Bush administration credit for not being hypocritical by supporting a mealy-mouthed, mewling conciliator along the lines of Jeanne Kirkpatrick. If John Bolton is unfairly denied a chance to ply his diplomatic talents at the U.N., maybe he can work for Bill Gates.

After Mr. Gates shamefully backed down from supporting gay rights legislation - a Washington State preacher had threatened to boycott the company - Microsoft could use a feral muscleman to face down the evangelical bully.

That's a job - or an ankle - Mr. Bolton could really sink his teeth into.

E-mail: liberties@nytimes.com"

JTA NEWS: After departure of key AIPAC man, some ask who will guide group now

JTA NEWS: "BEHIND THE HEADLINES
After departure of key AIPAC man,
some ask who will guide group now
By Matthew E. Berger and Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON, April 26 (JTA) — Not so long ago, the word on Steve Rosen, policy director for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, was that he was so knowledgeable that he trained the group’s board members in the ways of Washington.
In his 23 years with the pro-Israel lobbying powerhouse, Rosen’s encyclopedic knowledge of Middle East geopolitics and Beltway power politics nurtured AIPAC’s lay leadership and guided its policies.

Now that the same leadership has fired Rosen because, AIPAC says, of information arising out of an FBI investigation into alleged mishandling of classified Pentagon documents, the question is raised: Who will guide AIPAC now?

Rosen’s imprint remains in substantial ways: Iran’s threat to Israel, his top priority in recent years, is to be the centerpiece of this year’s AIPAC’s policy conference, which begins May 22. The conference will feature a walk-through exhibit on how close Iran is to developing a nuclear weapon.

Yet tactically Rosen’s departure already is being felt as AIPAC returns to its roots, working Capitol Hill and moving away from the executive branch lobbying that was emblematic of Rosen’s approach.

Significantly, the only on-the-record statement proffered by AIPAC since JTA revealed last week that AIPAC had fired Rosen and Keith Weissman, its senior Iran analyst, who also has been targeted by the FBI, emphasizes congressional lobbying.

“With growing membership, record attendance at events around the country, and continued successes on Capitol Hill, AIPAC is energized and focused on the future,” spokesman Josh Block said.

Some of the group’s recent successes on the Hill include backing Congress’ approval of $2.6 billion in foreign aid for this year, extending the duration of Israel’s loan guarantees and attaching strict oversight guidelines to $200 million in assistance to the Palestinian Authority.

The Senate also unanimously passed a bill expanding homeland security cooperation between Israel and the United States. The House of Representatives passed a resolution urging the European Union to put Hezbollah on the E.U. terrorist list and overwhelmingly passed two resolutions condemning Syria for its occupation of Lebanon and continued human-rights violations.

A key House panel has approved the Iran Freedom and Support Act, which has garnered more than 155 co-sponsors in less than three months since its introduction.

AIPAC’s grass-roots supporters have sought assurances that the FBI investigation won’t impinge on the lobby’s effectiveness. AIPAC hosted a conference call last week for Jewish leaders to address the revelation that Rosen and Weissman had been fired. The key message: AIPAC as an organization was not the target of the FBI probe.

A measure of AIPAC’s determination to reassure its base is its recent willingness to go on the record about its Capitol Hill successes, a sharp reversal of a longstanding policy to play down AIPAC’s influence.

AIPAC officials say the grass roots are solidly on board. AIPAC expects 5,000 people at the policy conference, which culminates with a day of show-of-strength lobbying on the Hill. The number is commensurate with previous conferences, AIPAC officials said.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon are slated to address the conference, a show of support from both governments. A wide list of congressional leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), also will be featured.

Officials say that financial contributions continue to grow, and that 5,000 people have attended AIPAC events across the country in the past five weeks.

Off the Hill — especially at the State Department and the Pentagon — Rosen’s departure is expected to diminish AIPAC’s Washington visibility.

“Steve Rosen is not a politically known Hill quantity,” one former AIPAC staffer said. “But he was very well known in the State Department, Pentagon and Israeli Embassy.”

Still, lower visibility in those areas might not be a bad thing for now. It was precisely the relationship between Rosen and Weissman and a Pentagon Iran analyst, Larry Franklin, that precipitated the FBI’s investigation.

Sources say the FBI moved against AIPAC after FBI agents observed Franklin exchanging information with Rosen and Weissman at a restaurant in Arlington, Va., in 2003. It’s not clear whether the agents were targeting Franklin or the AIPAC staffers.

However, several reports subsequently said that the FBI threatened Franklin with prosecution unless he mounted a sting against the two AIPAC staffers, giving them false information about an imminent threat to alleged Israeli agents in Kurdistan.

Once Rosen and Weissman relayed that information to Israel, according to those accounts, the FBI moved in, confiscating files from their offices in August and December. Franklin since has returned to work for the Defense Department, albeit in a nonsensitive post.

After the August raid, and again in December, AIPAC stood squarely behind the two men. A rift began to show around January, about the time several top staffers were testifying before a federal grand jury convened by Paul McNulty, the U.S. attorney for eastern Virginia. That was when AIPAC placed Rosen and Weissman on paid leave.

The rift was revealed to be final last week. After prodding by JTA, lawyers for Rosen and Weissman issued the following statement: “Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman have not violated any U.S. law or AIPAC policy. Contrary to press accounts, they have never solicited, received or passed on any classified documents. They carried out their job responsibilities solely to serve AIPAĆs goal of strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

It was the first on-the-record statement to come from the pair’s lawyers, Abbe Lowell and John Nassikas; in the past, all such statements have come from AIPAC and its lawyers. It also was the first statement to suggest that Weissman and Rosen had been accused of violating AIPAC policy.

Within hours, AIPAC countered with its own statement.

“The statement made by Rosen and Weissman represents solely their view of the facts. The action that AIPAC has taken was done in consultation with counsel after careful consideration of recently learned information and the conduct AIPAC expects of its employees,” an AIPAC statement said.

AIPAC would not detail the new information.

Nothing in the statements from either side suggested that action by McNulty was imminent.

Former AIPAC staffers say there are good and bad things about Rosen’s departure. With Rosen pegged by those staffers as a “loose cannon,” some hope the organization can become more focused without his pervasive presence.

“He was a brilliant bureaucratic infighter,” one former staffer said. “He knew how to do the little things to further his agenda.”

Rosen’s connections with bureaucrats and appointed officials helped AIPAC garner insider information on Middle East policy. Policymakers on the Hill and Jewish donors craved the tidbits Rosen’s operations uncovered, and helped the organization gain a loyal fan base in Washington.

Rosen also crafted strong ties with AIPAC board members, which helped him win internal political battles over the years, former staffers said.

“You can’t look at AIPAC now and say it is successful despite Steve Rosen,” one former staffer said.

Steve Grossman, a former AIPAC president, said Rosen had a “virtually encyclopedic knowledge of the issues.” But he believes the organization has many other professionals who can pick up the mantle.

He said Howard Kohr, AIPAC’s executive director, “has made sure there were a considerable number of people with lots of credibility who are able to step in and do it without losing a beat.”

Former staffers, many of whom did not get along with Rosen, suggested last week that he could try to sabotage AIPAC or the pro-Israel agenda if he is unhappy with his severance settlement from AIPAC. Grossman said he did not believe that was possible.

“Steve’s committed to and personally dedicated to the cause of U.S.-Israeli relations,” Grossman said. “It is such a critical part of his life that I have no concerns at all.”"