Bolton accused of bullying analysts

Ex-intelligence chief testifies at hearing on Bush's pick for U.N. post

April 13, 2005|By Sonni Efron | Sonni Efron,LOS ANGELES TIMES

WASHINGTON - A former State Department intelligence chief testified yesterday that John R. Bolton was a "serial abuser" of underlings who tried to have an intelligence analyst who disagreed with him removed and who was "a quintessential kiss-up, kick-down sort of guy."

But it appeared that the testimony of Carl W. Ford Jr., former assistant secretary of state for intelligence and research, had not changed the votes of any of the Republicans who hold a 10-8 majority on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, the only committee Republican known to be wavering, was "still inclined" to vote favorably on Bolton's nomination as ambassador to the United Nations, said the senator's spokesman, Stephen Hourahan.

However, the spokesman said Chafee had not made up his mind and planned to "spend some time reading written testimony" from other witnesses on Bolton's dealings with two intelligence analysts.

Subpoenas possible

Democrats signaled that they might subpoena the analysts, who are still serving in the administration and would not testify voluntarily.

A committee vote could come tomorrow or early next week, sending the nomination to the floor of the Senate, where it would presumably be approved on a party-line vote. Democrats could mount a filibuster in an attempt to block Bolton's nomination, but they did not indicate that they intended to do so.

Ford testified on the second day of contentious hearings over the nomination of Bolton, 56, the undersecretary of state for arms control and international security.

A conservative who has been an outspoken critic of the United Nations, Bolton testified Monday that, if confirmed, he would implement the president's policy to work closely with allies at the U.N. and try to reform the institution.

The testimony yesterday was solicited to cast doubts on Bolton's character, not his politics. Ford is a career intelligence officer who retired after more than 30 years in the Army, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon, and finally, the State Department's own intelligence unit, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research.

`Loyal Republican'

Ford described himself as "a loyal Republican and conservative to the core," an "enthusiastic supporter" of President Bush and his policies, and a fan of Vice President Dick Cheney. He said he felt awkward testifying against the president's nominee and had agreed to do so only after committee Democrats suggested they might subpoena him.

Ford went on to denounce Bolton's treatment of subordinates and his attempts to bully intelligence analysts who disagreed with him, saying, "There are a lot of screamers in government," but "I've never seen anyone like Secretary Bolton ... in terms of how he abuses little people."

Ford conceded at the beginning of his testimony that he might not be objective about Bolton, but he denied Republican senators' suggestions that his testimony might be prompted by personal animosity toward Bolton.

"I'm as conservative as John Bolton is," Ford testified, adding, "It is out of bounds in the federal bureaucracy to let a bully run wild on the people."

Sweeping statements

Sen. Mel Martinez, a Florida Republican, said Ford had made sweeping statements against Bolton under oath, but Martinez noted that Ford had said he had direct knowledge of only one incident in which he said Bolton had castigated and attempted to intimidate a low-ranking intelligence analyst, Christian Westermann.

In that incident, Westermann had told Bolton's staff that he would not clear language about Cuba's biological weapons program that Bolton wanted to include in a speech.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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