Bolton Hearing Postponed

U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton talks during a speech for the Korean-American Association at a hotel in Seoul Thursday, Aug. 29, 2002. Bolton said North Korea must quickly allow U.N. inspectors to determine whether it has been building nuclear bombs or place at risk a key 1994 accord on the construction of reactors to supply it with electricity.
Senate Democrats complained that the Bush administration has refused their requests for more information about John R. Bolton, the president's nominee for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee postponed a hearing, scheduled Thursday, to consider the Bolton nomination because several panel members were attending Pope John Paul II's funeral, a committee spokesman said. The hearing was rescheduled for Monday.

In a letter signed Wednesday and described to The Associated Press, all the Democrats on the committee asked Chairman Richard Lugar, an Indiana Republican, to wait to reschedule the hearing until they receive background material they say they need before Bolton comes before the committee. Democrats said the administration also spurned their requests for some witnesses to appear before the committee.

White House spokesman David Almacy said Wednesday night, "We have made both individuals and documents available and we will continue to work with them."

Democratic officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, would provide no details on what records Democrats wanted to see and people they wanted to interview.

A senior Democratic Senate aide said that Democrats have been trying for two weeks to obtain a small number of documents and interview a few people from the State Department and CIA as they prepared for the hearing.

The aide said the administration has not cooperated. "Those requests have been rebuffed," the aide said, "and we've been given no compelling reason why."

Norm Kurz, a spokesman for Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, the lead Democrat on the panel, said, "It's important for the executive branch to cooperate with the senators who are seeking to do their jobs."