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Former U.S. ambassador speaks out against Bolton

A former U.S. ambassador said in an e-mail to the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that John R. Bolton, President Bush’s nominee for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, “has none of the qualities needed for that job.”
Undersecretary of State John BoltonShizuo Kambayashi / AP file
/ Source: The Associated Press

A former colleague of John R. Bolton says President Bush’s nominee for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations “has none of the qualities needed for that job.”

Bolton “has all the qualities needed to harm the image and objectives in the U.N. and its affiliated international organizations. If it is now U.S. policy not to reform the U.N but to destroy it, Bolton is our man,” Frederick Vreeland, a former U.S. ambassador to Morocco, said in an e-mail to the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The administration stood firm Monday in its support of Bolton.

In Crawford, Texas, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she and Bush believe Bolton is the right person for the job, particularly as the United Nations undergoes change.

“We need a strong voice at the United Nations who can participate in and indeed lead in an extremely important reform debate that is going on now in the United Nations,” Rice said.

Vreeland, who worked with Bolton in the early 1990s under the first President Bush, said Bolton “dealt with visitors to his office as if they were servants with whom he could be dismissive, curt and negative.”

World body as ‘the enemy’
“He spoke of the U.N. as being the enemy,” Vreeland added in the e-mail sent Friday to Delaware Sen. Joseph Biden. The e-mail was first reported by Time magazine. “It is totally erroneous to speak of Bolton as a diplomat.”

Adam Ereli, a State Department spokesman, contrasted Vreeland’s comments with Bolton’s continued support from Rice and Bush, saying, “They know him a bit better than a retired ambassador who worked with him 15 years ago.”

Bolton’s nomination stalled last week. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee postponed a vote until May 12 after GOP Sens. George Voinovich of Ohio, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska expressed reservations. The delay came amid new allegations of abusive personal behavior and misuse of his government power.

Since that April 19 meeting, another committee Republican, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, said she believed a delay was appropriate. “It was obvious that members needed more time to look into the nomination,” said her spokeswoman, Kristin Pugh.

Murkowski has said she supports Bolton. “I have no reason to think that she’ll change her vote,” Pugh said.

Written questions
Committee aides continuing to probe Bolton’s background were preparing a list of written questions that could be submitted to him as early as Tuesday, according to a Democratic staff member who spoke on condition of anonymity.

They were also reviewing a letter sent to Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., by Lynne D. Finney, who worked for Bolton during the early 1980s.

Finney said Bolton tried to fire her. When it was deemed illegal, he retaliated by moving her to a “shabby windowless office in the basement” to force her to quit, she said.

Another State Department spokesman, Tom Casey, said: “We’ve looked into this. Nobody we’ve spoken to ... has any recollection of these events.”

Newsweek report disputed
Also Monday, the State Department and Britain’s Foreign Office disputed a Newsweek magazine report that the tough stance of Bolton, then the United States’ chief arms-control negotiator, prompted then-Secretary of State Colin Powell to go around him during talks with Iran and Libya last year. Newsweek said Powell acted after British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw complained about Bolton.

Britain’s Foreign Office said Straw couldn’t recall such a meeting with Powell. Adam Ereli, a State Department spokesman, said the foreign secretary wrote to Bolton when his nomination was announced to say he was looking forward to working together.