INTEL: THE BOLTON STANDOFF

The Senate dead-lock over John Bolton's nomination to the United Nations centers on requests by Democrats for secret info relating to Bolton's State Department tenure. But three congressional sources (who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the material) say the intel community was willing to give Dems access to key info at the center of the dispute: details of requests Bolton made for the names of Americans inadvertently monitored by the National Security Agency's worldwide electronic eavesdropping network. NSA normally blacks out American names when it forwards intel reports to other agencies. But the agency will unmask names if requesting officials certify in writing they need them to "understand the intelligence." Bolton sent NSA 10 such requests, and 19 U.S. names were disclosed to him, according to congressional correspondence.

Two of the congressional aides familiar with details of negotiations between the administration and Capitol Hill said that when Senate staffers first asked about Bolton's requests, NSA indicated it was willing to help out. "NSA told us they'd provide the [Senate intelligence] committee with the names," one of the officials told NEWSWEEK. But NSA said this would first have to be approved by the office of the new national intel czar, John Negroponte. The three congressional sources said that former NSA director Gen. Michael Hayden, Negroponte's deputy, was willing to compromise with Dems by turning over the names. In the end, Hayden briefed GOP Senate intel chair Pat Roberts and Democratic vice chairman Jay Rockefeller, but declined to turn over the names, leading to the current impasse. Bob Callahan, a spokesman for the intel czar's office, insisted: "At no time did General Hayden offer to provide Congress with the names."

INTEL: THE BOLTON STANDOFF | News