By Jon Dougherty, editor-in-chief
A note ostensibly scribbled on a yellow legal pad by National Security Adviser John Bolton suggested that the U.S. was ready to send “5,000 troops to Colombia,” perhaps as a means of quelling the burgeoning crisis in neighboring Venezuela.
The note was captured by photographers and spread on social media by national security fellow and policy analyst for the National Journal Rao Komar:
So this notepad that National Security Advisor John Bolton was holding today at the White House briefing on Venezuela says:
"Afghanistan -> Welcome the Talks. 5,000 troops to Colombia."
— Rao Komar (@RaoKomar747) January 28, 2019
“If confirmed this would be a pretty terrible OPSEC (operational security) breach,” he wrote.
Bolton’s full note read: “Afghanistan -> Welcome the Talks. 5,000 troops to Colombia.”
Meanwhile, Bogata sided with the U.S. in backing National Assembly opposition leader Juan Guaido as the legitimate “Interim President” of Venezuela. But Colombian Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes downplayed any possibility of engaging in military action in Venezuela in conjunction with U.S. forces.
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He noted in a brief address late Monday that he didn’t know the “importance and reason” for Bolton’s note.
Some have speculated that Bolton, who has decades of experience in intelligence, national security, and foreign policy, may have ‘telegraphed’ the contents of U.S. discussions — that is, flashed the note intentionally — as a message to allies and potential foes alike.
It may also have been a ploy to alert current Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro that the Trump administration was serious about him stepping down after years of political turmoil and mismanagement has left his country in economic ruin.
When asked about the “5,000 troops to Colombia” memo, the White House spokesperson responded, “As the President has said, all options are on the table.”
National Security professor and expert Tom Nichols weighed in that he thinks the ‘flash’ by Bolton was intentional.
At this point, I’m thinking he did this on purpose. https://t.co/YA2jA0XBZl
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) January 28, 2019
On Monday, Bolton confirmed to reporters that POTUS Trump is “leaving open the possibility of a U.S. military intervention to protect opposition leader Juan Guaidó, members of the nation’s assembly and American diplomatic personnel,” according to NBC.
“The president has made it clear that all options are on the table,” Bolton told reporters while holding the yellow notepad. “We also today call on the Venezuelan military and security forces to accept the peaceful, democratic and constitutional transfer of power,” Bolton said.
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