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Bolton harrassed intimidated cia analyst { April 13 2005 }

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April 13, 2005
Ex-Official Says Nominee Bullied Analyst on Arms

WASHINGTON, April 12 - A former assistant secretary of state heatedly charged Tuesday that John R. Bolton had so bullied an intelligence analyst over Cuba's suspected weapons programs that it shook the intelligence bureau and prompted the secretary of state to intervene.

In caustic and unusually personal testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Carl W. Ford Jr., who was assistant secretary for intelligence and research, said Mr. Bolton was a "kiss-up, kick-down sort of guy" who "abuses his authority with little people," and an ill-suited nominee to become ambassador to the United Nations.

Mr. Bolton, he said, had been dissatisfied with what he considered the analyst's overly cautious assessment of Cuba's weapons program.

The testimony offered an extraordinary public glimpse into the long-running and raw intelligence wars in the Bush administration, pitting hawks like Mr. Bolton, a protégé of Vice President Dick Cheney, against more circumspect intelligence operatives at the State Department who, among other differences, cast doubt on some prewar claims about Iraq.

Mr. Ford described himself as a conservative Republican and enthusiastic supporter of President Bush, Mr. Cheney and the policies of Mr. Bolton, who has been under secretary of state for arms control and international security since 2001 and an outspoken conservative critic of the United Nations. All the Republican senators at the hearing took pains to praise Mr. Ford for his service and his candor.

Democrats portrayed Mr. Ford's testimony about the clash between Mr. Bolton and the analyst, Christian P. Westermann, as having grave and far-reaching implications for American credibility, especially telling in light of the failure to find illicit weapons in Iraq that the intelligence agencies had said would be there. Republicans, though, characterized it as an isolated incident that would not derail the nomination.

Colin L. Powell, then secretary of state, had to go to the intelligence bureau after Mr. Bolton's criticism of Mr. Westermann, and assure employees that they should continue to "speak truth to power," Mr. Ford recounted.

The reputation of the State Department's intelligence bureau has since emerged relatively unscathed by the highly publicized reviews of intelligence failures in the last few years, its analysts known for resisting what has come to be called group think.

Mr. Ford's gruff, direct and sometimes off-color manner took some senators aback, as when he described Mr. Bolton's dressing-down of Mr. Westermann by saying that "he reamed him a new one."

It was hardly the kind of language usually heard from diplomats appearing before the Foreign Relations Committee, and it raised eyebrows, but also chuckles, among the senators, their aides and the rows of spectators.

"There are a lot of screamers that work in government," Mr. Ford said. "But you don't pull somebody so low down the bureaucracy that they are completely defenseless. It's an 800-pound gorilla devouring a banana."

Despite the drama, however, Mr. Bolton remained likely to be confirmed for the United Nations post, a nomination that startled both Congress and Embassy Row when the president announced it last month. Senator Lincoln Chafee, a Rhode Island Republican who Democrats were hoping would oppose the nomination, said he remained inclined to support the nominee, viewing the episode about which Mr. Ford testified as an isolated incident.

Mr. Chafee and other Republicans noted that although Mr. Ford called Mr. Bolton a "serial abuser" of people under him, he could provide first-hand knowledge of only this one instance and that, in the end, no one was removed from office. In addition, they noted, Mr. Bolton ultimately backed away and used Mr. Westermann's words instead of his own.

"I see the bar as very high," Mr. Chafee told reporters after the morning hearing. "Management style - is that a disqualifier? In the extreme, yes. But probably not in this case, from what we've seen so far."

A vote to confirm by Mr. Chafee would effectively assure Mr. Bolton of committee approval and eventual approval by the Senate.

After Mr. Ford's testimony, Senator Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, the committee chairman, said that the hearings had concluded and that a vote on the Bolton nomination could come this week.

Mr. Lugar and the Democrats also said interviews with eight individuals in the last several days had yielded descriptions of another episode of Mr. Bolton's reportedly trying to intimidate an intelligence analyst, but there was no inclination to bring in more witnesses for public hearings on it.

"I suspect that this is the tip of the iceberg with respect to Mr. Bolton only wanting to hear what he wants to hear on the intelligence front," said Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, who helped lead the Democratic charge, adding that confirming him "sends a signal that it is open season on intelligence analysts."

Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., the panel's ranking Democrat, said Mr. Bolton's record would undercut any American attempt to warn the United Nations of Iran's or North Korea's suspected weapons programs.

"This is a big deal, guys and ladies," Mr. Biden said. "I believe that this appointment is damaging to our national interests."

Mr. Ford, a gruff former Army intelligence officer, said Mr. Bolton had "shunned" him after the episode over Mr. Westermann in the spring of 2002. Just before he retired last year, Mr. Ford said, Mr. Bolton told him, "I'm glad you're leaving," and hung up on him.

At issue in the episode he described, Mr. Ford said, was a speech Mr. Bolton wanted to give about the threat of dangerous weapons from a range of countries, including Cuba. Mr. Bolton, he said, wanted clearance from the intelligence agencies to assert that Cuba had a developing biological weapons program.

On Monday, Mr. Bolton said that the dispute was over procedure, and that Mr. Westermann had circulated his own views, which were far more tentative than Mr. Bolton's, without telling Mr. Bolton. He said that he considered such behavior as "back-stabbing" and that the acting director of the bureau agreed that it was inappropriate and apologized.

But Mr. Ford said that on the contrary, Mr. Westermann had acted properly and used normal procedures. He said Mr. Bolton had summoned Mr. Westermann and dressed him down, waving his finger and turning red in the face. In 35 years, Mr. Ford said, he had never seen such abusive behavior toward a subordinate.

Mr. Lugar praised Mr. Ford but said that like other Republicans, he believed that one proven episode was not enough to derail the nomination. He noted that as ambassador, Mr. Bolton had promised to reflect the views of the president and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and not his own views.

Mr. Lugar, a supporter of the United Nations and of negotiations as a means to address nuclear proliferation, has been described by both administration officials and Republican aides in the Senate as no fan of Mr. Bolton's. The senator, those officials said, had told Ms. Rice not to nominate him as deputy secretary of state because he could not be confirmed.

In the end, however, Mr. Lugar said it was more important that the president be allowed to appoint someone in whom he had confidence and who would help promote vitally needed reforms at the United Nations.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

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