Bolton Warnings From Both Parties

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A former senior intelligence official came forward Friday to speak against President George W. Bush's U.N. ambassador nomination. So did Colin Powell's former right-hand man. And Democrats are holding onto their critique of John R. Bolton's leadership style.

As critique and rebuttal whiz through Senate chambers, the question remains: Will Bolton's Republican backers have the committee votes to send the nomination to the floor — and to win his confirmation?

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief of staff, Larry Wilkerson, told Senate investigators Friday that it would be a mistake to confirm Bolton as U.N. ambassador, CBS News Correspondent Gloria Borger reports.

Likewise, the former intelligence official told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff that Bolton vastly overstated the military might of Syria and Cuba.

Wilkerson questioned Bolton's leadership abilities and disputed the Bush administration's often-stated view that the undersecretary of state is a brilliant diplomat, committee sources have said.

Also this week, the Senate panel's senior Democrat, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, warned he might try to delay a committee vote on Bolton, scheduled next Thursday, if the department did not provide the requested material.

Tom Casey, a State Department spokesman, said the department was cooperating fully with the committee but did not say whether the Democrats would get everything they wanted from the files.

Borger reports that an array of Democrats continue to question whether Bolton tried to retaliate against intelligence officials with whom he disagreed.

One example of such an official Democrats point to is State Department WMD analyst Christian Westermann. In private testimony, Westermann said he was summoned to Bolton's office, where Bolton was "yelling and screaming, and red in the face, and wagging his finger," Borger reports.

And others have testified that Bolton tried to have Westermann fired. Bolton denies that charge.

Powell's former chief of staff, Wilkerson, gave details that seem to confirm Westermann's story. He told committee aides that Powell, who has not endorsed Bolton for the U.N. job, would "go down to the bowels of the building" to try to boost the morale of analysts who had clashed with Bolton, aides said.

  • Joel Roberts

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