Byline: James Morrison, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was clearly surprised yesterday when a leading Senate Democrat denounced one of his deputies, but Mr. Powell's response renewed questions about internal disputes at the State Department.
Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, the most senior Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, aimed his criticism at John Bolton, the undersecretary of state for arms control and international security.
Mr. Biden said the administration is not spending enough money on a program to dismantle nuclear missiles in Russia and blamed Mr. Bolton for opposing additional money.
"Tell Mr. Bolton that it's a good idea for him to go on vacation," Mr. Biden said.
"I beg your pardon," Mr. Powell replied.
"I shouldn't do that," Mr. Biden said, "but it's Bolton. Bolton is the guy who thinks this is a bad idea."
Mr. Powell, who on Wednesday castigated another Democrat in a House hearing, responded, "Don't worry about Mr. Bolton. He works for me, and we'll work it out with respect to our position."
Mr. Powell's response to Mr. Biden was a rare public indication of disagreements between the secretary and Mr. Bolton over the past three years on a variety of policy issues.
They have managed to avoid public disagreements, although many administration officials have acknowledged their disputes in private.
Some officials have been surprised that Mr. Powell and Mr. Bolton have found common ground despite their differences.
After all, they say, the worldview Mr. Bolton had professed in several publications before he received his current appointment - including his disdain for international law - was different from Mr. Powell's.
In addition, officials say, Mr. Bolton, whom many opponents of the administration consider too hard-line and ideological, was the only member of the State Department leadership who was not Mr. …