Former National Security Adviser John Bolton is intending to publish a book in March recounting his experiences in the Trump White House. As is standard procedure for such an undertaking, Bolton (or his publisher) submitted a manuscript for the National Security Council to review.
Today, Trump’s representative , Patrick Philbin, told the Senate “Ambassador Bolton was notified that the manuscript he submitted includes classified information, including at the top secret level, so in the current form it can’t be published, but they will work with him as expeditiously as possible to provide guidance so it can be revised and he can tell his story.”
So, taking Philbin’s words as truth, has Bolton committed a crime? Consider all the people involved in the creation of his book: editors, publishers, a ghostwriter or two, fact-checkers, etc. Presumably they do not all have Top Secret security clearances. Can Bolton be in trouble for revealing top secret info to them?
Well, that requires enough generosity to qualify for sainthood, but just for the sake of argument… I don’t think it fair to assume Bolton shared classified info. Let someone name a specific unauthorized recipient before making the accusation.
In general, people with security classifications write books all the time, and this process of NSC review prior to publication is very routine. Presumably these books are also being read by publishers, ghostwriters and so forth; so I don’t know exactly how that works legally, but I don’t see any reason to think that Bolton in particular did anything wrong here. Conceivably the person who leaked the info to the NYT could be in some legal jeopardy should they be identified, though.
Something can be top secret even after being published in a newspaper.
John Bolton is, to me, no saint, but he is a good enough man to avoid publishing a real secret, like the name of a U.S. spy infiltrated in an Iranian nuclear facility, or the schematic for how we fit an H-bomb onto one of our smaller missiles. I doubt he even knows any of that.
Bolton has had at least four (possibly six)* books on politics and foreign policy published. He is well-acquainted—as is his current publisher and their respective attorneys–with the process of scrubbing a manuscript of any potential classified or sensitive information.
If a claim is made by the Trump administration that classified information is revealed in the new book, look carefully at the dates the information was classified.
The odds are very good that those dates will fall within the past few days.
*There’s another John Bolton with a lot of books that come up in any search. The closest I’ve come to a list of books by this John Bolton is here:
The “six” number is one I’ve heard in commentary, but I haven’t found a site that lists all six.
any and all knowledge of anything bolton does, or does not know, about the current administration has been retroactively declared super duper top secret and would affect national security since it would lead to the impeachment of our dear leader.
At this point, Bolton is unable to read the mcdonalds menu since that is also top secret - they don’t call it “secret sauce” for nothing.
My own conspiracy theory: The White House has had the ms for a month and Bolton realized it was going to be blocked, so he leaked it or some juicy parts of it. Just to get it out in public that the orange monster had really ordered the $391 M held back, until…