WASHINGTON – Mr. Smith came to Washington again Monday, as an alias for a Central Intelligence Agency (search) officer who works covertly. Senators, however, may have blown his cover.
During questioning on John R. Bolton's (search) nomination to be President Bush's ambassador to the United Nations, Bolton and members of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee referred to "Mr. Smith" as one official among several who were involved in a dispute over what Democrats asserted was Bolton's inappropriate treatment of an intelligence analyst who disagreed with him.
"We referred to this other analyst at the CIA, whom I'll try and call Mr. Smith here, I hope I can keep that straight," Bolton said at one point.
Committee Chairman Richard Lugar (search), R-Ind., and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., both mentioned a name, Fulton Armstrong, that had not previously come up in public accounts of the intelligence flap.
It is not clear whether Armstrong is the undercover officer, but an exchange between Kerry and Bolton suggests that he may be.
In questioning Bolton, Kerry read from a transcript of closed-door interviews that committee staffers conducted with State Department officials prior to Monday's hearing.
"Did Otto Reich share his belief that Fulton Armstrong should be removed from his position? The answer is yes," Kerry said, characterizing one interview. "Did John Bolton share that view?" Kerry asked, and then said the answer again was yes.
"As I said, I had lost confidence in Mr. Smith, and I conveyed that," Bolton replied evenly. "I thought that was the honest thing to do."