Bolton Calls U.N. Key to Diplomacy; Democrats Question Nominee's Credibility

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Byline: Stephen Dinan, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

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. …