Friday, April 15, 2005

Is Party Loyalty A Threat To National Security?

Chan Lowe, The South Florida Sun Sentinel

Yesterday the Washington Post (via Laura Rozen) noted a third attempt by John Bolton to purge a deputy who disagreed with him. This time the accusation is directly related to the leadup to the current Iraq War.
In 2003, John R. Bolton, President Bush's choice for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, ordered a young official working closely with then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell removed from duties in the State Department's nonproliferation bureau in what U.S. officials described as a third attempt by Bolton to purge career officials he perceived as impeding his policy goals.

The officials, who would discuss the incident only on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss it, said Rexon Ryu, an expert on nonproliferation issues in the Middle East, was transferred to another bureau after he failed to produce a document requested by Bolton's chief of staff...

A graduate of Princeton University, Ryu was described by officials as a rising star in the State Department who quickly won the confidence of Powell and Wolf, the former assistant secretary of state for nonproliferation who was also Bush's envoy to the Middle East.

At the time of the incident with Bolton, Ryu was working closely with Powell on sensitive issues related to Iraq and traveling with Wolf to Jerusalem. He was also about to take on an additional portfolio -- nonproliferation discussions with Group of Eight countries -- which Bolton directed...

After Bolton accused him of concealing the document sought by his chief of staff, the nonproliferation bureau determined that Ryu's actions were unintentional.

"We looked into the concerns, found the omission was inadvertent and that there was no basis to the allegation," said Wolf, who left the State Department last year and now runs the Eisenhower Fellowships in Philadelphia. "Rexon has provided inspired and loyal service to his country, the president, Secretary Powell and to me as his immediate supervisor."

Ryu, who was then 30, was transferred to the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs and then spent eight months working for Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage.

The officials said Bolton never demanded that Ryu be fired. But one of them said, "If Bolton says he doesn't want him working on any issues, what are you going to do?"
Rozen notes that Ryu was in fact transferred.

Rozen has a laundry list of scandalous Bolton actions on War and Peace, including pressuring analysts on China, North Korea, and, as I mentioned, Iraq. She also notes his horrendous stance on intervening in genocides and ethnic cleansing in the Former Republics of Yugoslavia, Somalia, and Rwanda. ArmsControlWonk adds Cuba to the list of places that John Bolton wanted analysts to lie about, and the site also notes that Bolton may have had his hands in the Niger Uranium lie that lead the White House to out Joe Wilson's wife Valerie Plame as an active CIA Agent.

And through all of this the supposed "national security" and "moderate" Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee seem to value party loyalty over the good of our security.

We all know that intelligence agents were pressured over Iraq's supposed WMD programs, and that this lead to a series of false assumptions about Iraq's capabilities (at least amongst the simple minded Democrats who couldn't see through the bullshit they were being fed). We also know that in the post-Cold War world we face non-traditional security threats that require our analysts to think outside the box, with the ability to dissent from the position of the civilian leadership when necessary to protect the American homeland. And yet the Republicans seem more concerned with making sure that President Bush doesn't lost face than they are with placing capable personnel into foreign policy positions.

I don't wish or pray that the United States get hit by some sort of unconventional weapon/tactic or by some non-state actor. I won't get any pleasure in saying "I told you so" after we're attacked or we "miscalculate" an enemy that we've decided to ignore. But I believe, full heartedly, that the lock-step march of all of the "security experts" surrounding the Bush Administration will have disastrous consequences. You can only ignore reality, even those parts that you don't like or that go against your ideologies, for so long. Eventually we will have to deal with the real threats we face (unlike the imagined threats that the Neo-Cons see in their hallucinations/dreams), unfortunately we may be forced to deal with them after we've been attacked, and of course by then it's too late.