Vote Set for Thursday on Bolton

Published May 10, 2005

| FoxNews.com

After 30 hours of staff interviews and 1,000 pages of transcripts, members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are now scheduled to vote Thursday on John R. Bolton's (search) nomination to be U.N. ambassador.

Still, Republicans and Democrats don't seem any closer to agreement about the man nominated to be the United States' chief diplomat at the world body.

On Monday, the State Department said it won't turn over any more internal documents requested by Senate Democrats investigating Bolton's fitness to be ambassador, a spokesman said.

"I don't think we're stiffing anybody here. What we're doing is providing all of the information that's required that's relevant to the investigation that's going on," spokesman Tom H. Casey said of additional requests made by Senate Democrats.

Democrats have proposed a compromise in their demands for more documents beyond the 1,000 or so that have already been turned over by the State Department.

Under the proposed deal, Democrats would forego most of their demands for early drafts of Bolton statements about Cuba's weapons programs in exchange for access to papers detailing how Bolton handled intelligence on Syrian programs.

The panel's ranking Democrat depicted his requests as routine.

"All we're asking for is the same kind of things that we asked for with regard to Negroponte and it wasn't an issue," Sen. Joe Biden (search) of Delaware said Sunday.

But in a letter to committee chairman Richard Lugar (search) of Indiana, a State Department official on Friday derided the Democratic requests as "burdensome and of little relevance" and contended that to satisfy them would create a "chilling effect" on internal deliberations.

The undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, Bolton was denied a vote in committee last month after Democrats pleaded for more time to probe allegations he tried to twist intelligence to suit his views. Biden has suggested that Democrats need the information they have requested before any vote, and has hinted he could force a delay.

But Lugar has predicted Bolton will win committee support by a 10-8 party-line vote and since Democrats are 100 percent against him already, the committee has no need to postpone the vote a second time.

Last month, Republican Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio said the committee should investigate Bolton further. Sen. Chuck Hagel (search), R-Neb., said earlier that he was "troubled" by the charges, but hinted he'll support Bolton. On Sunday, he played coy when asked if he needed to see "something new" in order to vote against the nominee.

A 9-9 vote on the committee would effectively end Bolton's run for confirmation.

Besides his testimony last month, Bolton has had 23 private meetings with senators and answered 157 written questions, according to the congressional affairs office figures. The Foreign Relations Committee interviewed 31 people, including 13 current State Department employees.

FOX News has obtained transcripts of seven of the panel's final interviews. In one, the CIA's former deputy director of intelligence, Jamie Miscik (search), told investigators that Bolton proved "pretty regularly contentious" in his exchanges with analysts and was unique in requesting the transfer of one agency analyst whose work he found biased.

But, Miscik added: "I don't know of a case where it was that direct, but I do know that there have been cases where a policymaker has said, 'I don't find this analyst's views helpful,' or, you know, 'I don't want that person to come back and do the briefing,' those sorts of things."

Miscik also told Senate investigators that they could be spinning their wheels.

"I don't think you guys are going to find, you know, it's 100 percent this way, or 100 percent that way, in terms of they're right and he's wrong," she said.

In his interview with investigators on Friday, former Assistant Secretary of State Otto Reich (search) said he was "proud" that he, too, tried to arrange the "removal" of the same CIA analyst, nicknamed "Mr. Smith."

"Before I went to the national intelligence chief with a request [for 'Smith' to be transferred], I talked it over with close to a dozen of my colleagues in various departments because people had come to me … in my capacity as the head of the interagency group that handles Latin America, and said that they had lost confidence [in Smith] … Some said they were not reading Mr. Smith's work anymore because it was so biased and I thought this was a serious problem for the policy community.

"Mr. Bolton was certainly not the only one who had this negative opinion of this [national intelligence officer's] work product," Reich said.

Late Monday, a Capitol Hill source said the timing is "imminent" for the National Security Agency to provide details to the Senate Intelligence Committee about the 10 occasions over the last four years in which Bolton demanded to see the names of U.S. officials redacted in NSA surveillance documents that he reads as part of his job.

Bolton acknowledged during his testimony to the committee that he had made a few requests for names, an admission that led Democrats to ponder whether Bolton was spying on government officials with views differing than his on Cuba and Syria's weapons capabilities.

But the source said the ground rules for the NSA's cooperation have not yet been worked out.

Click in the box near the top of the story to watch a report by FOX News' James Rosen.

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