Sen. Rockefeller: Bolton Mishandled NSA Intercepts

From Holden:

Jeebus, Republicans. How bad does this guy have to be before you vote no?

The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee said today that John R. Bolton might have mishandled classified information by sharing with another State Department official details about a communication intercepted by the National Security Agency.

The assertion, by Senator John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, followed a two-week review of the issue by the committee’s staff. Mr. Rockefeller outlined his findings in a three-page letter to the leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on the same day that the full Senate is beginning debate on Mr. Bolton’s nomination as ambassador to the United Nations.

“On at least one occasion,” Mr. Rockefeller said in the letter, Mr. Bolton appeared to have shared with another State Department official information he received from the security agency about an intercepted communication. Mr. Rockefeller said Mr. Bolton appeared to have taken the step even though the security agency had directed that “no further action be taken on this information without prior approval of the N.S.A.”

Mr. Rockefeller recommended that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee interview Mr. Bolton “to conduct a more complete understanding of the extent to which he may have shared with others” information obtained from the National Security Agency, including identifying information about 19 Americans mentioned in classified intercepts.


The Intelligence Committee’s inquiry has focused on what the State Department has acknowledged were 10 occasions in which Mr. Bolton used his authority as an undersecretary of state to obtain the names of Americans mentioned in communications intercepted by the security agency, which handles eavesdropping efforts. Under normal procedures, the names of Americans are deleted from the intelligence reports prepared by the security agency and can be released only upon request and after a high-level review.


The new director of national intelligence, John D. Negroponte, and his deputy, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, had refused to provide a briefing to the leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which had made Mr. Bolton’s handling of the classified information a focus of its inquiry into the nomination.


To date, the State Department and Mr. Negroponte’s office have said virtually nothing in public about the information sought by Mr. Bolton, saying that the details remain highly classified. The nature of the intercepted communications, the dates on which they occurred, and the identities of the Americans who took part in them remain unknown. Even in a highly classified briefing with the Senate Intelligence Committee he provided to the senators, General Hayden refused to share the names of the those whose identities Mr. Bolton had obtained, according to Congressional officials from both parties.