Bolton ‘glad’ first presidential debate focused on foreign policy, rips Obama’s handling of bin Laden information

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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Former United Nations ambassador and potential 2012 presidential candidate John Bolton told The Daily Caller he’s “glad” Fox News’s South Carolina presidential debate Thursday evening focused mostly on foreign policy.

“I think it shows how early in the process it is and how really unstructured the debate over national security is,” Bolton told TheDC before speaking at a Republican National Lawyers Association event at the National Press Club. “I was glad that the Fox questioners raised it and I think it’s obviously appropriate in the week after the death of [al Qaeda leader Osama] bin Laden and in that sense, I was happy that the subject matter took up the majority that it did.”

Bolton said Obama’s public relations shambles surrounding the bin Laden information release has tarnished the good news and has possibly jeopardized future national security opportunities. “He’s taken what is a great national triumph and it’s being frittered away in the way it’s been handled very unprofessionally,” Bolton said. “I particularly object to leaking out aspects of what we may have learned in terms of information that was in the compound. I think you need much greater discipline to exploit the potential intelligence that we had and certainly you don’t alert other potential targets that, number one, we gathered a treasure trove of intelligence, and I wouldn’t have even started there.”

Referring to leaked intelligence about a planned terrorist attack later this year, Bolton said Americans should still brace for an attack even though bin Laden is dead. “I don’t think there’s any question that we have to worry about retaliatory attacks and that a heightened level of vigilance is necessary and certainly to prepare and protect against those attacks,” Bolton told TheDC. “If there’s actionable intelligence, we should be prepared to use it. What I object to is this sort of gratuitous leaking out of this information because I think so doing may have political benefits but it alerts the people who are potentially planning these attacks that we’re onto them and that, in turn, will cause them to change their operations.”

Bolton said he’d release the photos of the dead bin Laden, but that he disagrees with Obama burying the body at sea. “I would have brought the body to Guantanamo Bay,” Bolton said, referring to Alan Dershowitz’s Wall Street Journal op-ed on Thursday.

The former U.N. ambassador also told TheDC he wouldn’t have gone to Ground Zero on Thursday as Obama did. He said he would’ve gone on Sept. 11 this year, the tenth anniversary, as originally planned.