A former chief of the State Department's bureau of intelligence and research castigated John R. Bolton on Tuesday as a "kiss-up, kick-down sort of guy" who had abused analysts who disagreed with his views of Cuba's weapons capabilities.
With Bolton's nomination to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under Democratic attack, Carl W. Ford Jr. appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to support accusations of harassment.
"I have never seen anyone quite like Mr. Bolton," Ford testified under oath. "He abuses his authority with little people."
Contradicting Bolton's assertion Monday that he never tried to have officials who disagreed with him discharged, Ford charged that Bolton tried to sack the analyst Christian Westermann and was a "serial abuser."
Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, leading the fight to block the nomination, responded angrily to the accusation of mistreatment. Anytime a senior official calls in a lower-level one "and reams him a new one," he said, "that's just not acceptable."
Another senior Democrat, Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, said the Westermann incident was not an isolated one, and Bolton had harassed at least three officials who disagreed with the extent of threats that he considered were posed by Cuba and other countries.
Calling Bolton a "bully," Boxer said, "I think Mr. Bolton needs anger management at a minimum, and he does not deserve to be promoted" to the U.N. post.
Sen. Lincoln Chafee, a moderate Republican whose vote could be critical to the committee's endorsement of the nomination, noted that analysts criticized by Bolton had "kept their jobs." Chafee, from Rhode Island, already has described himself as inclined to support confirmation.
Another Republican, Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota, noted Ford had not witnessed the Wessermann incident and said much of the testimony would not be admissible in a court of law.
Ford told the committee he considered himself a loyal Republican, a conservative and a strong supporter of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Ford said he appeared before the committee only after a lot of "soul-searching."
On Monday, Bolton rigorously rejected assertions by Democrats that he tried to sack State Department intelligence officials who challenged his assessment of Cuba's efforts to develop biological weapons and his appraisal of the weapons programs of Iran and other countries.
"I didn't seek to have these people fired. I didn't seek to have them discharged. I said I lost my trust in them," Bolton testified.
Bolton also assured the committee that he supports international law and views the United Nations as "an important component of our diplomacy." The 56-year-old State Department chief of arms control is a hard-liner with a skeptical view of some U.S. arms control treaties and a frequent critic of the value of the United Nations.
Meanwhile, committee Democrats meeting behind closed doors were interviewing Neil Silver, a senior department intelligence official, and a CIA agent whose identify the senators sought to conceal.
His style, Democrats charged, was ill-suited for the U.N. post.
"You have nothing but disdain for the U.N.," said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. "You can dance around it. You can run away from it. You can put perfume on it," she said.
However, with Republicans in the committee majority by 10-8 and the Senate itself by 55-44 plus an independent, Bolton could be on a track to confirmation unless damaging new information about him emerges.
"At this point, all the Democrats are against Mr. Bolton," Borger said. They would like to get Chafee to go along with them, "but I would have to guess that it's going to be a squeaker and he will get confirmed."
What makes Bolton's nomination particularly controversial, says Borger, is Congress' sensitivity about the United States not having found weapons of mass destruction.
"The question of whether someone put pressure on someone to give them the intelligence they want, that fits their ideological mold, is very, very delicate right now on Capitol Hill," Borger said.
The chairman, Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., hopes to hold a committee vote Thursday and has no plan to recall Bolton for more testimony.