Part III: Obama Adviser David L. Boren re: Foreign (inc. Energy) Policy

In Part I I provided extensive information courtesy of, A Project of the Center for Media and Democacy, on former chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee David L. Boren’s right wing ties, and his close relationship to Robert Gates, former CIA director and current Secretary of Defense.

In this post I will add a few more bits of information, including a rather surprising story about how Boren was involved in the outing of a CIA agent, and discuss some of Boren’s books and legislation involving foreign policy…and energy policy. Some of the information I’ve found includes:

–Boren’s rightwing leanings are illustrated in some of his actions as chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence. For example, he once sharply criticized President George Bush, accusing him of neglecting to take advantage of a 1989 failed coup attempt against Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega of Panama. (see NY Times article here.)

–The incident involving the CIA agent occurred in 1991 when Boren identified a senior clandestine CIA agent while talking to reporters. He claimed it was an inadvertent mistake.

Senator’s Slip Costs Cloak-and-Dagger Agent the Rest of His Cloak

Published: July 18, 1991

With an apparently inadvertent remark to reporters on Tuesday, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee made very public the normally veiled identity of one of the Central Intelligence Agency’s most senior clandestine agents.

The Senator, David L. Boren, Democrat of Oklahoma, issued an aggrieved defense of his action today, emphasizing that the agent’s name had already been disclosed in newspapers, a best-selling book and in a Congressional investigative record.

But intelligence officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it nonetheless seemed likely that Mr. Boren’s widely quoted remark would curtail, if not end, the overseas career of the officer, Jay K. Gruner, a former Latin America division chief who has been chief of the C.I.A. station in a European capital for about two years.

“He’ll be coming back, I assure you, by the end of the summer,” an associate of Mr. Gruner said. ‘Absolutely No Secret’

The intelligence agency, adhering to its policy of never discussing whom it employs in operations posts, declined to say whether Mr. Gruner is an agent or whether he would return to the United States.

Senator Boren made his remark on Tuesday at a news conference about the delay in the confirmation hearings for Robert M. Gates, President Bush’s nominee for Director of Central Intelligence. Mr. Boren said senators wanted to interview Mr. Gruner about his knowledge of the secret arms sales to Iran and the illegal diversion of profits to the Nicaraguan rebels.

In a statement issued today by his office, Mr. Boren called the suggestion that he had compromised Mr. Gruner’s identity “outrageous,” saying that his name already “had appeared in records related to the Iran-contra inquiry on several occasions.”

“It is absolutely no secret to anyone that he occupied a position at the C.I.A. headquarters during the period of time of the contra resupply operation,” the Senator said. “It also is clear that in order to do its job, our committee must ask questions of Mr. Gruner,” regardless of whether his name is officially classified.

No one at the agency instructed him that Mr. Gruner’s name was not public, his statement said.

Nevertheless, without confirming Mr. Gruner’s identity, C.I.A. officials have recently asked reporters to consider withholding Mr. Gruner’s name from publication for fear that the disclosure would subject him to harassment or terrorist attack.

–In 1991 Boren also authored legislation which created the National Security Education Program .

David L. Boren National Security Education Act of 1991 (NSEA, Title VIII of P.L. 102-183), provides aid for international education and foreign language studies by American undergraduate and graduate students, plus grants to institutions of higher education. The statement of purpose for the NSEA emphasizes the needs of federal government agencies, as well as the Nation’s postsecondary education institutions, for an increased supply of individuals knowledgeable about the languages and cultures of foreign nations, especially those which are of national security concern and have not traditionally been the focus of American interest and study.

The NSEP website is quite explicit in naming the areas of the world covered in this act:

The National Security Education Program (NSEP) provides a unique funding opportunity for U.S. students to study world regions critical to U.S. interests (including Africa, Asia, Central & Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America & the Caribbean, and the Middle East). The countries of Western Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are excluded.

Isn’t that interesting? Most of he NSEP countries seem to be places where energy politics is the prime focus…

–Since leaving the Senate in 1994 to become President of the University of Oklahoma and Professor in the Department of Political Science (since 1995), Boren has continued to write and speak on foreign policy issues, as well as “unity.” As recently as March 4, 2008 he appeared on C-Span’s Washington Journal with a repeat on Book TV to discuss his latest book, “A Letter to America.” (For video, use the link which follows.) According to the C-Span blurb,

Former Senator David Boren talked about his book, A Letter to America. He questioned how long the United States, with only six percent of the world’s population, can remain a global superpower. He offered advice on how we can secure an influential role for America in the fast-changing world of the 21st century. He drew on his experiences as the longest-serving chair (1987-1995) of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Former Senator David Boren argued that America is at a crossroads and needs to foster bipartisanship to overcome important issues like healthcare and education.

–In recent years he has co-edited books published by the University of Oklahoma Press, including 2002’s DEMOCRACY, MORALITY, AND THE SEARCH FOR PEACE IN AMERICA’S FOREIGN POLICY featuring essays by Lawrence Eagleburger, Paul Kennedy, Phyllis Oakley, George Mitchell, Lady Margaret Thatcher, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

–In 1999 he co-edited PREPARING AMERICA’S FOREIGN POLICY FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY, the result of a gathering in ” 1997 and 1999 [of] a very select group of analysts, practitioners, and scholars assembled at the University of Oklahoma to lay the groundwork for a new United States foreign policy that will promote our nation’s ideals while protecting its vital interests in the post-cold war era.” The long list of contributors included the usual suspects, including Zbigniew Brzezinski, Lee Cullum, Robert M. Gates, David R. Gergen, Richard M. Helms, Jim L. Hoagland, Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, Henry A. Kissinger, Walter Mondale, Sam Nunn, George J. Tenet, William H. Webster, and R. James Woolsey

The Kirkus Reviews discussion of this book ends with this interesting comment:

While each piece stands alone, collectively the book reveals an overall elite consensus on what the US faces in the world and what it should do in the world. … . National bipartisan consensus should be reached on just what values and goals the US wishes to pursue, and domestic issues must not be allowed to interfere too deeply in the pursuit of this national interest….

What does that last sentence mean?? It gives me an awful uneasy feeling…

–What is very interesting is the fact that one of Boren’s earliest forays into writing about foreign policy was in 1976, when he edited a book with Melvin Laird which was based on a rountable held on October 2, 1975 at the American Enterprise Institute, which describes as “an extremely influential, pro-business right-wing think tank.”

Melvin Laird was Richard Nixon’s Secretary of Defense from 1969 to 1973 and Counselor to the President for Domestic Affairs from 1973 to 1974. The title of the book he edited with David L. Boren was entitled “ENERGY POLICY ASSESSMENT – A New War Between the States?”

Clearly, Boren’s rightwing leanings have colored his foreign policy interests. The question is now how much influence Boren will have with Obama? How much “bipartisanship” will really be a set of policies that are dictated by a conservative, elite foreign policy cadre? In other words, will Obama really bring change to our foreign policy? I think not…