New allegations hit Bush pick for U.N. ambassador
Senator calls on Bolton to withdrawal name
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A series of new allegations surfaced Sunday against John Bolton, adding fuel to the dispute surrounding President Bush's pick for U.N. ambassador and further calling into question whether he will ultimately get the post.
"He would do himself, and I think the country, a favor by withdrawing," Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, a Democratic member of the Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters.
Newsweek reported, in its May 2 edition, that British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw complained about Bolton to then-U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell in November 2003. Citing a "former Bush administration official who was there," Newsweek said Straw told Powell that Bolton -- Powell's undersecretary for arms control and international security -- was making it impossible to reach an agreement on Iran's nuclear program.
According to the official, Newsweek reports, Powell then turned to an aide and said, "Get a different view on [the Iranian problem]. Bolton is being too tough."
Newsweek said British officials "at the highest level" persuaded the White House to keep Bolton off the negotiating team that ultimately convinced Libya to give up its nuclear program. Bolton was unwilling to support a compromise under which the United States would drop its goal of regime change in favor of "policy change" in exchange for Libya's disarmament, the magazine reported.
The magazine quoted one Bush official as calling the accounts of both incidents "flatly untrue."
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Sunday Bolton was "the right person at the right time to do this important job."
"People are demanding reform at the United Nations, and John Bolton is the right person to help bring about much-needed changes. He is smart, passionate, blunt and occassionally gruff -- those are qualities required for an agent of change to get things done."
Bolton is not responding to allegations in the media while his confirmation process is under way. A State Department spokeswoman contacted by CNN had no immediate response to the report in Newsweek.
Democrats argued Sunday that Bolton's actions have shown he is the wrong man to serve as the top U.S. diplomat to the international body. They were also quick to emphasize that questions about his fitness for the position have come from Republicans as well.
"He's been a real tyrant when it came to people he worked with, who disagreed with him. This man doesn't have the temperament for this job," the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, Dick Durbin of Illinois, said on "Fox News Sunday."
But Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, said on ABC's "This Week" that Bolton is being misrepresented.
"What you have here is an individual who is extraordinarily capable," he said.
Questions about Bolton's treatment of those he works with, particularly subordinates, as well as alleged efforts to pressure some in the intelligence community -- allegations Bolton supporters have denied -- have surrounded his nomination from the get-go.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee postponed a vote on his nomination last week, with one Republican, Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio, saying he did not feel comfortable voting for Bolton. Two other Republican members, Sens. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, have left it unclear whether they would support Bolton.
The committee is scheduled to meet again May 12.
In testimony before the committee, Bolton has denied allegations of blocking diplomatic progress.
Allegations of abuse
But the complaints are mounting.
In a letter dated Friday to Sen. Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat, Lynne Finney, the former U.N. policy adviser for the U.S. Agency for International Development, recalled working with Bolton at the State Department in late 1982 or early 1983.
Finney wrote that he had asked her to persuade U.N. representatives from other countries to weaken restrictions on the marketing of infant formula in developing countries.
When she refused, citing serious health reasons, Bolton "said he was ordering me" and then "screamed that I was fired," Finney recounted.
When fellow attorneys said the firing was illegal, she stayed and Bolton "retaliated" by moving her to "a shabby windowless office in the basement in order to force me to leave," Finney wrote.
She said Peter McPherson, then USAID administrator, apologized for Bolton's behavior.
But McPherson -- whom the White House named chairman of the board for International Food and Agricultural Development in 2002 -- told CNN he has no recollection of the events Finney described.
Among the most serious allegations leveled so far against Bolton is a State Department intelligence analyst's claims that Bolton threatened to fire him over a 2002 speech in which Bolton accused Cuba of harboring a secret biological weapons program.
The analyst, Christian Westermann, insisted Bolton's speech use language reflecting more ambiguous intelligence assessments.
A former State Department official, Carl W. Ford Jr., said he was sufficiently concerned with Bolton's abrasive style that he talked to Powell and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.
In grilling about the incident, Bolton testified that he was upset because Westermann had gone behind his back -- not because Bolton disagreed with him. He said he never asked for anyone to be punished.
"This man is a proverbial bull in the china shop," Sen. Patrick Leahy, Democrat from Vermont, told CNN.
Under Bolton's tenure as undersecretary for arms control, Leahy said, Iran has made progress toward developing a nuclear weapon, and North Korea "has gone way beyond anything that the United States said it would tolerate."
"This man does not have a sterling track record," he said. "And then when you find that he wanted the CIA and others basically to shade intelligence to fit his political agenda? Well, I would hope we'd think that we've seen enough of that after what happened in Iraq."
Durbin said on Fox that he believes Bolton's nomination is "in trouble."
"He wants to work with people around the world, and he couldn't work with people in his own office," Durbin said. "And he's supposed to be open, as our man at the U.N., to ideas from other people. And he's been a real tyrant when it came to people he worked with, who disagreed with him. This man doesn't have the temperament for this job."
Support for Bolton
Powell has not expressed support for Bolton. But the nominee has the support of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, who have called for his confirmation.
Kyl said on ABC that Bolton's critics are targeting him "because he's a tough guy who supports the president's policies."
"We need a tough guy over at the United Nations," he said. "It has become a corrupt and ineffective institution, and the president wants to send somebody over there that can get the job done."
Republicans also argued that there may be a lot of smoke about Bolton, but that doesn't mean there's fire.
Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said on CBS Sunday that the complaints about Bolton "have not yet been proven." The Foreign Relations Committee, he said, "is going to have an adequate opportunity, presumably over the next three weeks, to get to the bottom of whatever it would like to find out about Secretary Bolton."
"It's about time somebody went to the U.N. with some degree of skepticism that would put some pressure on the U.N. to engage in the kind of serious reforms that the oil-for-food scandal clearly indicates are needed at long last," he said.
ms.katejones said:Not only is Bolton anti-UN, but he's also pretty rude to his subordinates. If you listen to the testimony of people who worked with him, it is obvious this guy is not right for the job. I don't know what Bush was thinking.
noggi16 said:See now what you might say is rude and popumous, I might say is direct and courageous. These jobs are stressful, I'm pretty sure I'd be rude to. His direct style of management is not a reason not to appoint him.
Maybe the UN needs to upest a few people, instead of pussyfooting around and using "diplomatic" language.
Bolton nomination heads for Senate vote
But Republican on committee says he won't vote for him as U.N. envoy
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to send John Bolton's nomination to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations to the Senate for a vote, despite stinging criticism from a key Republican on the panel.
Members of the committee, which has a Republican majority, voted 10-8 to send the nomination to the full Senate, but without a recommendation.
According to a Senate aide, the committee could send it with a positive or negative recommendation -- or none at all, as it has done.
Committee member Sen. George Voinovich, R- Ohio, told reporters that even though he voted to send the nomination on, he would not vote for Bolton on the Senate floor.
"It is my opinion that John Bolton is the poster child of what someone in the diplomatic corps should not be," Voinovich said.
The former Ohio governor appeared to suggest that Bolton's nomination would not be approved by the full Senate membership, and said he would encourage other senators not to approve it. Republicans have a 55-45 majority in the chamber.
"I have every faith in my colleagues," Voinovich said. "No one's really excited about him going to the United Nations."
Earlier in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee deliberations, Voinovich voiced strong concerns about Bolton's suitability for the post, saying that sending the former undersecretary of state to the world body would send a contradictory message to the world about U.S. public policy.
"I have great concerns with the current nominee and his ability to get the job done," Voinovich said, noting that the signature of Bolton's former boss, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, was conspicuously absent from a letter supporting the nomination.
The White House says Bolton, a longtime U.N. critic, is needed at the United Nations to promote change within the world body.
Opponents to the nomination have charged that Bolton's "bull in the china shop" style would do nothing to improve the image of the United States worldwide.
Sen. Richard Lugar, the chairman of the committee, said that while Bolton's actions were "not always exemplary," evidence heard by the panel does not support a disqualification of the nominee.
"The end result is that many of the accusations have proven to be groundless or, at worst, overstated," Lugar said.
Lugar said dozens of officials have supported the pick -- including U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. He also said a letter of support had been signed by former Secretaries of State James Baker, Lawrence Eagleburger, Alexander Haig, Henry Kissinger and George Shultz.
Voinovich noted that the signature of Bolton's former boss, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, was conspicuously absent from the letter supporting the nomination.
"The United States can do better than John Bolton," Voinovich said in the committee debate, citing conflicts reported between the nominee and several people with whom he had worked.
"I like Mr. Bolton, I think he's a decent man. Our conversations have been cordial and candid, but I don't believe he's the best man we can send to the United Nations," he said.
Rice repeats support
Democrats have fought to block the nomination, arguing that Bolton is unsuitable because of his temperament and his past, sometimes blunt, condemnation of the United Nations. (Full story)
In one assessment in 1994, Bolton said: "There is no such thing as the United Nations."
"If the U.N. secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference," he said during a Federalist Society forum. He did not work for the government at that time.
The committee put off a scheduled vote on Bolton's nomination last month after Voinovich joined Democrats in asking for more time to investigate allegations about Bolton's conduct. (Full story)
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice repeated her support for Bolton, saying he was "eminently qualified for this job," and that she recommended him to the president.
"When we were looking for a U.N. ambassador, I thought that John, with whom I'd had a lot of experience in his diplomacy over the last four years, would be a strong voice at the U.N.," she told CNN's Larry King in an interview that aired Wednesday night. (Full story)
"Yes, he's been critical of the United Nations from time to time, but in some ways that is a great benefit because at a time when the U.N. is undergoing a considerable discussion about reform, looking at what needs to be done, it's a good thing to have somebody who's thought both about the good and the bad at the U.N.," Rice said.
In a news conference last month, Bush said that Bolton was "blunt," but said he "can get the job done."
Accusations of bullying
At his confirmation hearing last month, senators heard testimony that Bolton bullied underlings and tried to have an analyst fired in a dispute over intelligence.
Senators questioned Carl W. Ford Jr., former chief of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, about allegations that Bolton tried to have analyst Christian Westermann reassigned because the analyst did not agree with the undersecretary's views on Cuba.
Bolton had planned to say in a May 2002 speech to the Heritage Foundation that Cuba had a secret bio-weapons program, but Westermann would not approve the language used until it reflected more ambiguous intelligence assessments.
Ford said Bolton was furious. "I've never seen anybody quite like Secretary Bolton," Ford told the Senate committee.
Ford testified that Bolton was "a serial abuser" and described him as "a quintessential kiss-up, kick-down sort of guy." (Full story)
Bolton testified he never asked for anyone to be punished for the incident. He said he was upset because the analyst went behind his back -- not that he disagreed with him. (Full story)
In recent weeks, committee staff members have interviewed more than 30 witnesses.
A close aide to former Secretary of State Colin Powell testified that Bolton clashed with Powell's top deputy, former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.
Armitage also restricted Bolton from public speaking unless his comments were personally cleared by him, Larry Wilkerson said, according to a transcript released by a Democrat on the committee. (Full story)
The Foreign Relations Committee also is investigating requests by Bolton for transcripts of conversations intercepted by the National Security Agency.
Rice said Monday that Bolton was simply an "interested consumer of intelligence."
Bolton currently serves as the undersecretary of state for arms control.
If confirmed, Bolton will replace John Danforth, who left the post in January after less than seven months on the job. In his resignation letter, Danforth cited a desire to spend more time with family and health concerns as his reasons for stepping down.
Anne Patterson, a career foreign service officer, has been the acting U.S. ambassador to the United Nations since Danforth's departure.
Bolton told the committee that if confirmed as U.S. ambassador to the U.N., he would pursue four priorities: Strengthening institutions that bolster democracy and freedom, stemming the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, supporting the war against terrorism, and fighting humanitarian crises such as the spread of HIV/AIDS.
noggi16 said:Well who are they going to pick if not Bolton, I think Dick Cheney would be a good choice or do you want to borrow Alistar Campbell or Jack Straw?
August 1, 2005
Bush Appoints Bolton as U.N. Envoy, Bypassing Senate
By TIMOTHY WILLIAMS
President Bush bypassed the Senate confirmation process today and appointed John R. Bolton as the new United States ambassador to the United Nations, an organization that Mr. Bolton has been an outspoken critic of in the past.
The appointment, while Congress is in recess, ends for now a months-long standoff between the White House and Senate Democrats who deem Mr. Bolton unfit for the job and have been holding up his confirmation. The president nominated Mr. Bolton for the post in March, saying his tough approach was just what was needed for an organization badly in need of reform.
"I chose John because of his vast experience in foreign policy, his integrity and his willingness to confront difficult problems head on," Mr. Bush said at the White House.
"Because of partisan delaying tactics by a handful of senators, John was unfairly denied the up-or-down vote that he deserves," the president said. "As a result, America has now gone more than six months without a permanent ambassador to the United Nations. This post is too important to leave vacant any longer. Especially during a war and a vital debate about U.N. reform."
The recess appointment, which had been expected, was condemned by Democrats. "The President has done a real disservice to our nation by appointing an individual who lacks the credibility to further U.S. interests at the United Nations," Sen. Christopher Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat, said in a statement. "I will be monitoring his performance closely to ensure that he does not abuse his authority as he has in the past."
Mr. Dodd is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that was considering Mr. Bolton's appointment.
Senate misgivings about the appointment were not entirely partisan. Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Nebraska Republican and also a member of the committee, said he had wanted Mr. Bolton to go through the regular confirmation process.
"I would have preferred to see our U.N. Ambassador go to the U.N. with the support and confidence of the Congress," he said in a statement. "However, Mr. Bolton will be judged on his performance at the United Nations." In April, Senator Hagel said that while he was "troubled" by some of the allegations against Mr. Bolton, he would still vote for him.
The president has the power to fill vacancies without Senate approval while Congress is not in session, an action known as a recess appointment. Mr. Bolton's term will expire at the adjournment of the current session of Congress, in the fall of 2006.
But Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican, applauded the appointment. "The president did the right thing by sending Mr. Bolton to the U.N.," he said in a statement. "He is a smart, principled and straightforward candidate, and will represent the president and America well on the world stage."
Mr. Bolton has been a frequent critic of the United Nations, and has talked often of the need to reform the institution. He led the United States' opposition to the International Criminal Court, an arm of the United Nations, saying that the day he signed the letter withdrawing the United States' signature on the treaty was "the happiest moment of my government service."
The appointment comes despite a letter to the president last week signed by 36 senators -- 35 Democrats and one Independent - saying that Mr. Bolton was "not truthful" while answering questions by the Foreign Relations Committee in March, and should not be given a recess appointment. Some Republicans have said the approval of Mr. Bolton is long past due and that Mr. Bush is well within his rights to make the recess appointment.
Some senators, including some key Republicans, have also raised questions about Mr. Bolton over his history of criticizing the United Nations, his treatment of subordinates, and over charges that he has tried to influence intelligence assessments to conform to his views.
During Mr. Bolton's confirmation hearings in April, the testimony included allegations that he tried to intimidate or have fired intelligence analysts who disagreed with him. Carl Ford, the State Department's former assistant secretary of state for intelligence and research, said that Mr. Bolton was "a serial abuser" and "a quintessential kiss-up, kick-down sort of guy."
Mr. Bolton's nomination has the support of the majority of senators, but fewer than 60 - the number needed to forestall a filibuster that Democrats had threatened until Mr. Bolton answered questions, particularly about his use of classified intelligence about conversations involving administration colleagues.
Democrats had also been seeking more documents from the White House regarding Mr. Bolton's past service. They have asked for more information related to Mr. Bolton's access to the names of American individuals and companies mentioned in highly classified intelligence reports based on communications intercepted by the National Security Agency.
Republicans who favor Mr. Bolton's appointment have said that Democrats have more than enough information to proceed.
During this morning's announcement, Mr. Bolton said he was "humbled" by the appointment.
"I'm profoundly honored, indeed humbled, by the confidence that you have shown by appointing me to serve as the United States' permanent representative to the United Nations," he said. "We seek a stronger, more effective organization true to the ideals of its founders and agile enough to act in the 21st century."
Mr. Bolton is the former undersecretary of state for arms control, and a protégé of Vice President Dick Cheney. The United Nations post has been vacant since John C. Danforth left the job in January.
Shadi Rahimi contributed reporting for this article.