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What Bolton Says

My column today covers some impressions of Ambassador John Bolton gleaned from a conference call with him on Monday. At the tail end of the call I managed to ask Ambassador Bolton about the New York Times' leaking of the SWIFT story, and this is what he said:

"This is one that, the publication of those stories is really very hard to defend....this is revealing something that was quite important and has been very effective in watching how the terrorists move money around, laundering it so that they can move it to places where they need to use it. And at some point somebody needs to make a decision in responsible media whether that World War II spirit that said "loose lips sink ships, don't spill our secrets", is something we still believe or not. So I don't think we can calculate the negative effect of the publication of that - how bad it's going to be."

By the way, if you're looking for a counterpoint to my column, Niall Stanage puts a hit on Bolton in the New York Observer this morning, airing conspiracies that Bolton's real agenda is to destroy the U.N. rather than reform it and/or he's merely positioning himself to write a big tell-all book in the future.

I have no doubt Bolton is tough and aggressive, or that his style may rankle some in Turtle Bay. The question, however, isn't so much whether Bolton is tough but whether he's fair and reasonable as well. I don't know that I've seen any evidence suggesting he's fallen short on either count. Recognizing that the term "fair and reasonable" is subjective, I'd still be delighted for Bolton's critics to lay out exactly which parts of the reform package being pushed by the U.S. Mission they find to be unfair and/or unreasonable and why.