John Bolton Uses 'Shadow' Council To Help Vet White House Hires

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John Bolton relies on an outside group of advisers with ties to think tanks and organizations that will only reinforce the administration's desire to wage war.

Close-up of Bolton looking at Trump.

Everybody knew making John Bolton the new National Security adviser spelled trouble to any ongoing or future peace negotiation involving the United States. Now, we know that his presence in President Donald Trump's White House also means that a “shadow” group is actually in charge of shaping the president’s foreign policy.

According to The New York Times, Bolton relies on advisers that work within different conservative political organizations and think tanks. Known as the “shadow” National Security Council, their influence is such that they help vet “prospective new hires for views that would be compatible with [Bolton’s].”

This use of unofficial counsels is worrying former National Security Council members and government watchdog groups.

The New York Times said it believes this opens the door to conflict of interest charges. Over time, it addes, it may also create an “echo chamber” of views that will only reinforce Bolton’s hawkish and war-hungry nature, as well as his blind support for foreign governments, such as Israel.

As a result, there would be no room for dissent, no room for anyone truly concerned about anything but Israel, and no room for diplomacy or clear thinking in the Trump White House — not that there’s ever been much of that prior to Bolton’s involvement.

Still, the “shadow” NSC could be of great concern to the future of our foreign relations if the president is pressed about Bolton’s lack of interest in debating ideas.

Some of the individuals involved in Bolton’s group of trusted advisers include Frederick H. Fleitz, the senior vice president for policy at the Center for Security Policy, a far-right think tank that has been widely criticized for its anti-Muslim bias; Sarah Tinsley, the director of the Foundation for American Security and Freedom, Bolton’s own think tank; and David Wurmser, the Middle East adviser to former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney. Needless to say, Cheney wasn’t the best when it came to Middle East policy.

A former official in the President Ronald Reagan administration, Charles M. Kupperman is currently holding a leadership role on the secret council.

But it’s another member of the “shadow” group, Matthew C. Freedman, who seems to have a special place in Bolton’s heart. And that is what's most concerning.

According to The New York Times, Freedman has a history of working as a foreign lobbyist whose former clients include Ferdinand Marcos, the Philippine dictator known for his regime’s corruption and brutality.

Freedman also worked with Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, in the 1980s and 1990s. They also have something else in common: They both worked for Trump. Freedman held a position during Trump’s transition but was kicked out after using his lobbying job’s email to conduct government business.

When it comes to following through on his most well-known promise — “draining the swamp” — Trump, indeed, fails.

Bringing Bolton to the White House not only put us in danger of war with countries that were either considering peace or halfway to fully embracing it; it also increased the involvement of single-minded organizations and lobbyists in the political process.

Banner/Thumbnail Photo Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

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