- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 12, 2005

John R. Bolton, President Bush’s nominee as ambassador to the United Nations, said yesterday he will carry out the administration’s vision of a “close partnership” with the group, but Democrats said he has lost credibility by retaliating against two intelligence analysts in a dispute over his speeches.

At the start of a tense hearing that included exchanges on past statements by Mr. Bolton critical of the global body, the nominee said, “The United States is committed to the success of the United Nations, and we view the U.N. as an important component of our diplomacy.”

Democrats, who must persuade at least one Republican senator to vote against Mr. Bolton to block the nomination, mostly focused on the analysts who disagreed with him over the intelligence he wanted to cite in speeches.

“After all this country has been through with Iraq and faulty intelligence, if that’s true, that’s not the approach we should be rewarding,” said Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, the Foreign Relations Committee’s ranking Democrat.

“John, I have great respect for your abilities, your intellectual capacity. It’s your judgment and temperament, as well as your approach to many of these issues, that give me great pause,” he said.

Despite being armed with dozens of past statements from Mr. Bolton, now undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, Democrats focused on the intelligence analysts.

Mr. Bolton said he just wanted that the analysts not work withhim, not that they be fired. And he said his request had nothing to do with disagreements over the substance of the intelligence but rather with the way they tried to make the changes to speeches.

“Fundamentally there’s nothing there there,” he said. “I didn’t seek to have these people fired. I didn’t seek to have discipline imposed on them. I said I’ve lost trust in them, and if [there were] other portfolios they could follow. It wasn’t anything to me that I followed at great length. I made my point and I moved on.”

Republicans are standing firm behind Mr. Bolton. Committee Chairman Richard G. Lugar, Indiana Republican, said he has seen nothing disqualifying, and Mr. Bolton appears to have the support of all 10 panel Republicans.

The Republican considered most likely to waver, Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, said he will probably vote in favor of Mr. Bolton.

“Look at my past record. It would be fair to say I’m inclined to,” he said, though he added that a bombshell out of today’s hearing with Assistant Secretary of State Carl Ford, director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, might change that.

Democrats expect Mr. Ford to say that Mr. Bolton tried to have Christian Westermann, a senior bureau analyst, disciplined, as well as another analyst whom panel members said they could not name.

Mr. Biden said Mr. Westermann had an outstanding record at State and had served 23 years in the Navy, including two tours of duty as an arms inspector in the Soviet Union.

Mr. Chafee said Mr. Bolton was saying all the right things during yesterday’s daylong hearing and asked Mr. Bolton to recount a telephone conversation last week between the nominee and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

“Well, I probably shouldn’t get into it, but he said, ‘Get yourself confirmed quickly,’” Mr. Bolton said.

But Democrats said they didn’t know why, given Mr. Bolton’s past words, he would want the job.

“You have nothing but disdain for the United Nations,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer, California Democrat. “You can dance around it, you can run away from it, you can put perfume on it, but the bottom line is the bottom line.”

Mr. Bolton stood by his past remarks, saying that the United Nations had sometimes “gone off track” and citing the “abominable” resolution calling Zionism a form of racism.

The issue has become political fodder for both sides, and interest groups have begun running television commercials. Yesterday, the American Security Council announced an ad running in Washington to back Mr. Bolton.

Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, sent an e-mail to his Rhode Island supporters to put pressure on Mr. Chafee. The 2004 Democratic presidential nominee said Mr. Bolton would join an “astonishing list” of Bush nominees including Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

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