Jeffrey Lewis"Mr. Smith" is Fulton Armstrong

The anonymous “Mr. Smith” from the Bolton hearings, if I understand Senators Kerry and Lugar correctly, is Fulton Armstrong, National Intelligence Officer for Latin America since June 2000.

Here is Armstrong’s bio from an archived copy of the NIC website (as of December 2003):

Fulton Armstrong
National Intelligence Officer for Latin America

Fulton T. Armstrong was appointed National Intelligence Officer for Latin America on 1 June 2000. Previously Mr. Armstrong served as Chief of Staff of the DCI Crime and Narcotics Center (CNC). Prior to that, he served two terms as a Director for Inter-American Affairs at the National Security Council (1995-97 and 1998-99) and as Deputy NIO for Latin America (1997-98).

Mr. Armstrong began his government career in 1980 as Legislative Assistant and Press Secretary to US Representative Jim Leach. In 1984-95, he served as analyst, political-economic officer, and manager specializing in Latin America in the both the intelligence and policy communities.

Prior to joining government, Mr. Armstrong worked four years as a reporter, editor, and translator in Taiwan. He earned his B.S. in Linguistics and Spanish at Georgetown University in 1976. He is fluent in Spanish and Mandarin Chinese.

Insight on the News reported at the time that Armstrong was coordinating Bolton’s talking points for the speech in question—so I don’t understand why we are using a pseudonym.

The Insight… story is interesting because it suggests that Bolton was pushing for a very, very hawkish assessment on Cuba:

In his gagged statement, a copy of which was obtained by Insight, Bolton expresses “frustration” at the apparent unwillingness of U.S. intelligence agencies to disclose information about Cuba’s biological weapons which could include anthrax, smallpox and variants of encephalitis such as West Nile virus. Recent outbreaks of West Nile virus that have killed more than 30 Americans and infected another 675 have been traced to birds that may have been infected at Cuban bioweapons labs, according to defecting scientists who report Fidel Castro’s experiments using animals as carriers of weaponized germ agents.

Wow. Does that really imply that Bolton wanted to pin West Nile on Castro? Or, is Insight… just engaging in the old tactic of placing statements next to one another to imply a relationship?

Late Update: Let me be clear about this: Senators Kerry and Lugar said nothing new by mentioning Armstrong’s name.

  • The Washington Times-owned Insight on the News identified Armstrong as the NIO who was “coordinating” Bolton’s speech in September 2002.
  • The New York Times published a story about efforts by Otto Reich to pressure Armstrong in January 2003.
  • A Wall Street Journal opinion piece accused Armstrong of a “lackadaisical approach to a mounting body of disturbing evidence” about threats to the United States from Cuba and Venezuela in March 2003.
  • Salon mentioned Armstrong, again by name, as an analyst who had been smeared as ” somehow under the influence of the Cuban government” in January 2004.

Senator Lugar—according to my transcript—opened the hearing by announcing:

Now, staff has in fact interviewed Mr. Westerman; Carl Ford, who will be appearing before the committee, as I understand, tomorrow morning at our hearing at 9:30; Mr. Fred Flights (ph), the Bolton special assistant who might know something about this; Tom Fingar, the INR principal deputy assistant secretary at the time; Fulton Armstrong, national intelligence officer for Latin America at the NIC at the time; Stuart Cohen, Mr. Armstrong’s supervisor at the NIC at that time.

Later, Chris Dodd suggested there was something untoward about mentioning Armstrong’s name and everyone played along with the ridiculous “Mr. Smith” charade until Kerry read Armstrong’s name in a transcript.

Even later update: Anne Gearan, AP Diplomatic Writer, should be ashamed of this paragraph:

Committee Chairman Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., both mentioned a name, Fulton Armstrong, that had not previously come up in public accounts of the intelligence flap.

Other than the four that I cited, she means.

Comments

  1. Bernhard (History)

    That AP piece is reprinted in the Washington Post and there it is even censored!

    Instead of writing the full name of Fulton Armstrong as in the AP piece, the Washington Post uses the phrase “[the person in question].”

  2. Mick (History)

    And lest we forget: CUBANET.
    [Si — ACW.]

  3. FactChecker (History)

    Even the NY Times repeated this untrue story today.

  4. Al (History)

    That’s exactly why I love blogs. People set things straight. Thank You! 🙂

  5. Tom Killiam (History)

    Whoever started the leak of the name it was no doubt someone in the hawk camp with Bolton, throwing tantrums at not getting supporting intelligence for paranoid theories, just like with Wilson and the Niger/uranium fiasco.

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