- The Washington Times - Monday, March 26, 2007

Bolton remains busy

NEW YORK — It’s been three months since John R. Bolton left his post at the United Nations and his service in the Bush administration, but he hasn’t gone quietly — nor, really, has he gone very far. Mr. Bolton has filled his days back in Washington with long-delayed conversations with congressional and administration figures, think tanks and policy groups and is getting around to reflecting on his often stormy 16 months representing Washington at the “House of Peace.”

Mr. Bolton, who has energetically taken to the road on paid speaking engagements, is compiling his recollections and views in a book called “Surrender is Not an Option: Defending America at the U.N. and Abroad.” It will be a survivor’s tale of “how policy was made and things were done at the U.N. during my tenure there,” the nonproliferation expert said, singling out the Security Council’s adventures with Iran and North Korea.

“Policy is not made by big abstract forces in the sky but by people,” he said after a lunch of scallops and warm apple tart at the Four Seasons. “I try and tell that story to help us learn lessons of what we did right, what we did wrong and how we can affect policy in the future.”

Simon & Schuster, which plans to issue the book Nov. 6, paid “a very nice advance,” Mr. Bolton said last week after an off-the-record luncheon address to the conservative Hudson Institute.

“But my objective is to sell enough copies of the book to earn back the advance, because I want the book to be read.”

No doubt it will be. Members of the Hudson Institute, a conservative-leaning policy group, applauded the book’s title, and several guests eagerly spoke about it during the lunch.

The hawkish Mr. Bolton, who was something of a personality in a sea of U.N.-blue and diplo-gray on Tuesday, braved Comedy Central’s “Daily Show,” despite the program’s frequent mustache jokes and sometimes distressing video clips. Host Jon Stewart did most of the talking, but Mr. Bolton was graceful, if not the loquacious, commentator of his U.N. stakeout days.

Commission seeks help

The responsibilities of the so-called Brammertz Commission have multiplied, but the U.N.-mandated group is hampered by an inability to fill key jobs.

Serge Brammertz, head of the International Independent Investigation Commission, told Security Council members Wednesday that difficulty in recruiting qualified Arabic speakers is “creating significant delays” in the probe into the killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Only three of 27 jobs for interpreters, translators and transcribers have been filled, and the vacancies reduce the team’s ability to interview witnesses and experts and transcribe what they say for wider use.

The inquiry, which seeks to unravel the political assassinations, has been unable to find qualified Arabic speakers, Mr. Brammertz told reporters, because of security concerns, the difficult hours and a prohibition against their bringing family members to Beirut.

There have been death threats against local staff, and Mr. Brammertz always travels with bodyguards, even at the United Nations.

The commission was able to fill posts with 35 U.N. staffers and five Lebanese in the past three months with the help of the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations, which maintains a mission in southern Lebanon.

The commission is also trying to find qualified people to work as analysts, investigators, legal officers, forensic experts and database administrators, Mr. Brammertz told the Security Council. His mandate expires at the end of June, even though the scope of the investigation is expanding.

Mr. Brammertz, a state prosecutor in his native Belgium, declined to say whether he would seek another term or leave the inquiry commission with one more vacancy.

Betsy Pisik can be reached by e-mail at bpisik@washingtontimes.com.

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