WASHINGTON – The Senate Foreign Relations Committee took final consideration Thursday of the nomination of John Bolton (search) to become U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Following is Part 2 of an uncorrected transcript of the hearing.
SENATOR LINCOLN CHAFEE (R-R.I): There have been many charges and accusations. And I do agree with Senator Dodd that any intimidation of intelligence analysts is wrong. And I'm apprehensive that by promoting John Bolton we're signaling an endorsement of that intimidation.
And I am particularly concerned with the speech that Mr. Bolton gave in Seoul, South Korea, in the midst of those six-nation talks. Mr. Bolton says that speech was cleared by the highest level of our government. True that may be, it does not diminish the questionable wisdom of his having delivered it at such a sensitive time.
There have been other instances where I've had reservations about Mr. Bolton's decision-making. I also recognize the diplomatic successes Mr. Bolton has had. The Proliferation Security Initiative is one. And as Senator Allen said, this is a global effort that aims to stop shipments of weapons of mass destruction, the delivery systems, and related materials worldwide. The PSI uses existing authorities, national and international, to defeat proliferation.
Mr. Bolton worked in a multilateral fashion on this proposal. Ten other countries -- Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom -- initially agreed to PSI, and 60 more have agreed since.
I do want to take, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Bolton at his word as to how he will perform as our ambassador to the United Nations.
He testified under oath that if confirmed, "I pledge to fulfill the president's vision of working in close partnership with the United Nations. And that vision is that the United States is committed to the success of the United Nations, and we view the U.N. as an important component of our diplomacy."
Mr. Bolton said that he will work for a stronger, better, more effective United Nations, one which requires sustained and decisive American leadership, broad bipartisan support, and support of the American public.
He said, "Walking away from the United Nations is not an option."
He also said that he assures the committee, the American people, and potential future colleagues at the United Nations that if confirmed he will work with all interested parties to build a stronger and more effective United Nations. He said, "Doing so will promote not only American interests, but will inevitably improve and enhance the U.N.'s ability to serve all of its members as well."
He went on to say, "I pledge to bring my strong record of experience in working cooperatively within the United Nations to fulfill the intentions and aspirations of its original promise. In particular, I will work closely with the Congress and this committee to achieve that goal."
I will repeat that: "In particular, I will work closely with the Congress and this committee to achieve that goal."
So I want to take him at his word, and I will support Chairman Lugar and Senator Voinovich's motion.
CHAFEE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SENATOR RICHARD LUGAR (R-Ind.): Thank you very much, Senator Chafee.
Senator Biden, would you designate...
BIDEN: Senator Kerry is next (OFF-MIKE)
LUGAR: Senator Kerry is recognized.
SENATOR JOHN KERRY (D-Mass.): Mr. Chairman, thank you very much.
And, again, first of all, by echoing (OFF-MIKE) and thank you personally for the way in which you have conducted this process. Obviously (OFF-MIKE) with its moment of tension weeks ago and I think you handled that with great grace, and I think you've been terrific r with Senator Biden -- I wish we were able to have that full record. I think that remains something that we hope we can work with you.
Secondly, I also want to say to those people who came forward, I think this is a very serious moment for the committee and it's hard sometimes to convey that to people, because a lot of what happens around here gets politicized, as well as trivialized. But this should not be.
I regret that some have sort of circled political wagons in this effort, and I think this is one of the most conscientious, legitimate processes of the committee that I've been engaged in in the time that I have been here.
And it's not party interests, it's America's interests. I think Senator Voinovich articulated that and others, I think, in their statements have tried to articulate that or have articulated it.
And those people have come forward -- I mean, you just can't dismiss that. You can't reduce this somehow to politics when people have spontaneously come forward, particularly people from the same workplace, people from the same ideology, people from the same background, people who are invested in the same goals as John Bolton, but who have spontaneously come forward to, from their gut and at great risk, put their views on the line here. And I think that does raise the level of scrutiny that each of us as senators ought to be giving this.
Thirdly, there's this assumption that is thrown out so easily by a lot of people that we ought to give a president the person the president puts forward. Well, generally speaking, we do.
But the whole concept of advice and consent embodies in the term not just that we give advice and walk away, but that we have to consent, that we do consent.
And as Senator Biden, I thought, very forcefully stated, this is within the constitutional requirement of us as senators or the Senate and the Congress as a separate and equal branch of government.
And that consentd not be automatic. It is not automatic. It has never been automatic when we conduct ourselves properly and do our duty to its fullest.
Now, I wanted to comment, I'm glad Senator Voinovich is back here, because this puts him in a difficult situation, and probably our saying something nice about him puts him in a difficult situation.
But what I want to say, I think, is not directed only at him, it's directed at all of us as senators.
I was really struck at the meeting we had before when Senator Voinovich stopped the proceedings, rewrote the script, based on his conscience. I mean, he just sat up and said, "I'm uncomfortable with this."
And lo and behold, people were amazed: Washington was amazed. The country was amazed.
And I was amazed that everybody was amazed. Because what is going on that a senator doesn't act according to script, acts according to conscience, and everybody is taken aback?
I think Senator Chafee said, "This is the first time this has happened in the four years I've been here."
Well, then, something is wrong with here, not with Senator Voinovich.
And I was struck that he was set upon by certain automatic forces in the country that are then unleashed to vilify him for acting as a senator ought to act.
When I first came here, that's the way almost everybody did. That's the way it worked. And we shouldn't be so amazed that somebody in fact stops and thinks about something and responds according to their conscience.
Now, what is at stake here is not party, not Democrat, not Republican. What is at stake here is our national interest, our security interest, our ability to advance our interests within the United Nations.
And I take exception with Senator Allen.
Long before he was on this committee, a lot of us were working with Senator Kassebaum, with Senator Helms, Senator Biden and others, to reform the United Nations.
We were among the first to withhold the dues. We were among the first to withhold the peacekeeping money. We worked hard to try to advance the cause of reform, and we got some distance in that. But there's of course an enormous amount more to be done.
This is not about reform at the United Nations. This is about who is the best person to advance the serious interests of our country in one of the most important fora in the world.
And a lot of us approach this -- indeed, I may comment skeptical, because I think everybody was taken aback, as Senator Biden said, I mean this appointment on its face struck a lot of people as odd.
I respectfully submit that it struck a lot of Republican senators as odd. But then the political wagons kind of circled.
I think this is bigger than that now, and the question is whether between now and a vote on the floor of the Senate people are really going to take stock of the full measure of what is at stake here.
Mr. Chairman, you made the right decision in the last weeks to keep this process open and to make judgments. And I think the record that has been compiled, the additional witnesses and testimony thut this job; and whether or not this person can now, under the circumstances and what we've learned, actually advance the cause of our interests at the United Nations.
Imagine when he walks into one of the first meetings, if he's confirmed, people will sit there and say, "Well, here's Ambassador Bolton. Is he sitting on one of the floors that he wanted to eliminate? Here's Ambassador Bolton, is he today telling us intelligence that's his view or someone else's view?"
And when he makes his view known, almost to a certainty it's going to be second guessed and people are going to go back and say, "Well, are we getting the full speech? Is this what the intelligence community says?" It's gong to have to be rechecked. It's going to have to be double efforted in every case, because that question is there.
In fact, Ambassador Bolton himself, to my astonishment -- here he is seeking to represent the country at the United Nations where the views you express have to be those of the administration and the others, and he's busy reserving the right -- in answer to the question I submitted he said, "I understand that as a policy official, statements identifying the views of the intelligence committee have to be fully vetted. I've submitted to this process throughout my tenure. Your question, however, fails to recognize a second principle, namely that a policy official may state his own reading of the intelligence as long as he doesn't purport to speak for the intelligence community."
So every time he speaks up there, he's going to have to clarify, "I'm not speaking for the intelligence community," or "I am speaking for the intelligence community."
But even more disturbing, he also said, quote, "The intelligence community needs to be pushed. It will not do its best unless it is pressed by policy-makers, sometimes to the point of discomfort."
Now, his version of doing that, we have seen, puts people at risk, changes the consensus of the intelligence community itself, and will -- in every instance in which he speaks, my colleagues -- leave people asking the question of who he is speaking for.
He has himself reiterated that and underscored that in this statement.
Now, I think, you know, let me just share with colleagues what a prior ambassador to the United Nations said about this job.
I quote, "I do not think that one should ever seek confrontation. What I have every intention and hope of doing is to operate in a low key, quiet, persuasive and consensus-building way.
"I think a principal objective should be to try to communicate effectively with the representatives of as many nations as possible to broaden a bit the areas of mutual understanding. We should try to extend a bit the frontiers of reason and cooperation. And I think we should work to that end and we should work to establish the patterns of consultation and trust."
These are the words of Jeane Kirkpatrick during her January 1981 confirmation.
Can I continue? I don't know -- how much time did I take?
(UNKNOWN): You've got another five minutes.
KERRY: So no one is ever going to accuse Jeane Kirkpatrick of shying away from her views, and like John Bolton, she is a staunch conservative who speaks her mind. But she understood and respected the value of diplomacy, negotiations, listening to -- listening to -- and respecting other views, seeking a broad point of view.
And the question is clearly on the basis of this record whether you can say that about John Bolton, whether he sees the big picture, whether he seeks those views. Can he handle opposing points of views? Does he have the leadership skill?
And interestingly enough, it was Jeane Kirkpatrick herself who said of John Bolton that he is not a diplomat.
Now, the larger issue, I'm not going to go into because I don't have the time.
But you know, you can take Lawrence Wilkerson, who was quoted in the New York Times as saying that John Bolton -- he is the former chief of staff to the secretary of state -- who said he thought John Bolton would be an abysmal ambassador to the United Nations.
Jeane Kirkpatrick said, "He loves to tussle. He may do diplomatic jobs for the U.S. government, but John is not a diplomat."
Now, more disturbingly, there are a pattern of things that have been laid out here. And I don't have time to go into all of them.
One is this berating of analysts and what it does to intelligence at a time where intelligence needs to be trusted.
That's one very serious question.
The other is the question of how he treated people and what that does in terms of leadership.
But most importantly, I think, is the question of credibility itself.
Credibility -- when the U.S. speaks to the world, we got to be believable. We have an extraordinary message about democracy, about transformation of the world, about our leadership, and we need somebody there who is not going to be questioned in that.
We may have to make the case about Iran or North Korea or Syria, but in each of those cases, North Korea and Iran, Mr. Bolton has already made statements that had been questioned by the highest officials in our government, and more importantly, tried to stretch the intelligence to fit his own views in each of those cases.
Again and again, he tried to inflate language about Syria's nuclear activities beyond what intelligence analysts saw. The chairman of the National Intelligence Council ordered his staff to resist Mr. Bolton's efforts.
This is a man who is going speak for America with credibility about Syria?
Former National Intelligence Council chair, Robert Hutchings, said, quote, "Let's say that he took isolated facts and made much more of them to build a case than I thought the intelligence warranted. It was sort of cherry picking of little factoids and little isolated bits that were drawn out to present the starkest possible case."
I could go on about that, Mr. Chairman. I don't have time to do it, because I want to get to one of the most important things of all for each of us to think about.
Not only have you questions about Mr. Bolton's credibility on the subject of intelligence and his voice at the U.N., but frankly we've got serious questions about his credibility before this committee itself.
In the case of Christian Westerman, he denied trying to have him disciplined. He denied before this committee under oath trying to have him disciplined.
He said, "I mentioned it to Mr. Fingar. I may have mentioned it to one or two other people." "I may have mentioned it to one or two other people."
This is an intelligent man. This is a man who's been cited by everybody as having a steel-trap mind, one of the best minds of all, "But then I shrugged my shoulders and moved on," he said.
That is not true folks. That's not what he did.
The testimony of Mr. Westerman and all of his superiors -- all of his superiors at INR -- Ford, Fingar, Silver, as well as the recollection of his own chief of staff, Mr. Flights -- make it clear that removing Westerman is exactly what he sought. There was no if, ands or buts, no may have, no might have talked to somebody. He wanted him removed and that was clear, and he wasn't candid with this committee.
The dispute went on for months. There was no shrugging of his shoulders and moving on. It went on for months, and it had a lasting impact on Mr. Bolton's relationship with INR.
Bolton said to this committee, quote, "I basically thought the matter was closed when I got Mr. Fingar's e-mail saying it won't happen again. But a few days later, Bolton took up the issue with Carl Ford, and then he took it up with Neil Silver."
And despite his characterization to this committee, he hardly considered it closed.
This was not the only time he was not candid with the committee, Mr. Chairman.
Regarding his efforts to have the NIO for Latin America removed, he told the committee, "I had one part of one conversation with one person one time on Mr. Smith and that was it. I let it go."
Not true. That wasn't it. He didn't let it go.
Documentary evidence shows that he took steps to remove the NIO, and it was under active discussion for four months. Letters were drafted that would be signed by Mr. Bolton and Otto Reich, the assistant secretary for the western hemisphere, demanding the NIO's removal. On one subsequent occasion he was reported to have told his staff quote, "He didn't want the matter to slip any further."
So Bolton's distortions before the committee weren't limited even to these two cases. He told the committee he didn't threaten or try to have anyone punished because of their policy views, but several witnesses have personally said directly that he did.
Mr. Chairman, again, you know he told the committee that U.S. Ambassador Hubbard approved and supported his speech. But you now know directly from Hubbard that was not true.
Does it matter whether you tell the truth or don't tell the truth in your confirmation hearings to a committee of the United States Senate or doesn't it matter?
And if you can't tell the truth to this committee, are you going to tell the truth to the other people, and will they believe him when he goes to the United Nations?
Senator, you weren't here. This is not about whether or not we're all for the reform of the United Nations, it is; it's about whether or not this is the best person to effect that reform. And I don't think that you begin by not being candid to a committee of the United States Senate under oath.
So there are these serious issues and more, many more and I hope -- I don't think we ought to send it out of this committee personally. I think it ought to end here, because this isn't the right person.
And if it doesn't end here we are going to have a serious debate on the floor of the Senate. And that debate will not improve Mr. Bolton's standing at the United Nations.
So I think we'd be better off doing what is appropriate to the record. The record speaks for itself, and now this committee ought to speak for itself.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman..
LUGAR: Thank you very much, Senator Kerry.
Senator Coleman, you're recognized.
SENATOR NORM COLEMAN (R-Minn.): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, I do think it's appropriate to acknowledge the extraordinary steps that you have taken to work with the majority of the minority members in building an incredible record, and to bring us to the point we are today.
I also want to compliment you on your statement. I hope that all our colleagues on both sides of the aisle read the chairman's opening statement.
I also appreciate your strong statement about U.N. reform. I'll talk about that later. I think we all agree on that.
And I guess the question, in the end, is: Is this the right guy and who makes that decision, who makes that judgment?
I think we had an election that said who makes that judgment, who's weighing, I'm sure, all the stuff that we're weighing here, and has come to a conclusion about John Bolton.
And it's a conclusion, Mr. Chairman, that I support.
We've had over the course of the last three weeks 35 separate interviews, 29 different people testifying, 1,000 pages of transcripts, I think 700 to 800 pages of documents. And when you get through the whole process, where are we at? I think we're probably right back where we started in this process.
I don't know if there's anything new that any of us have seen that would say that, certainly from my perspective, that John Bolton is not qualified to serve in this position.
He continues to have the support of the president, continues to have the support of the secretary of state.
My concern is a little bit about the process. And I think some of the allegations clearly are patently false. Some have been blown wildly out of proportion.
My concern is about the -- as we look to the future -- chilling effect of what's going on here, and the impact it will have on good people.
Senator Dodd in the past has talked about how it's getting harder and harder to get good nominees who want to serve.
At the last hearing we had, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle raised a concern about an incident that apparently took place a number of years ago, when Bolton was in private practice. It was an incident regarding a contractor that he worked for, doing some work in Kyrgyzstan.
And what we heard were all the allegations about chasing somebody down the hotel in Moscow and harassment. I didn't have at that time, but I think I'd read the newspaper article that in fact the person who owned the company, the subcontractor who was in effect Bolton's boss, had submitted a letter to the committee. I know my colleague is going to say I had a copy of that letter.
But we heard and what the public heard, without refutation, are instances about outrageous conduct on the part of John Bolton without any retort, without folks saying not only maybe this isn't the case, but the folks who knew the principals say it wasn't the case. They said it in some very, very strong terms.
And so I do worry about the chilling effect that we're having here. This is certainly not a court of law. And it certainly doesn't have the same standards. And certainly it's a world we have to live with.
But I am concerned about what Mr. Bolton has gone through and the nature of these allegations.
And as I said, Mr. Chairman, I think your opening statement did a good job of responding and rebutting.
I do want to talk a little bit about the Cuba speech and the conversation between Mr. Bolton and Mr. Westermann.
Bolton himself told Christian Westermann, I quote, "You are welcome to disagree with me. Just not behind my back."
And during Westermann's staff interview when asked about whether Bolton made such a statement, he replied, "That does ring a bell."
And what happened there -- and again, this is one of the cases, you've got to hear two sides of the story.
And so what you have there, again, was an incident laid out in public to disparage the reputation and the name of John Bolton, and then you've got evidence, substantial evidence on the other side, something to the contrary. And we don't know.
I wasn't there, Mr. Chairman. You weren't there.
But to use this as a basis for somehow saying that John Bolton is not qualified to be United States ambassador is not only wrong, it is another example of the kind of chilling impact that I think folks looking at this process, who may big fan of The Washington Post, but I could say these words, they said it, and I'll say it as I said it, talking about their editorial about a vote on Bolton.
And it says, "The committee interviews have provided some colorful details without breaking new ground on what has long been a well-understood split in the first Bush administration: a split between who saw themselves as pragmatic diplomats, the Powell camp; and those like Mr. Bolton who saw themselves as more willing to bruise feelings here and abroad in standing up for U.S. interests."
Then they go on to say, as I would say, "that the president is taking a risk maybe. But in the end, the president knows the role that Mr. Bolton is to play, the nominee's intelligent and qualified, we should support him." I think that's a pretty fair summary.
Is John Bolton strong willed? Darn right. There's no question about that.
And it's interesting, because you look at the record, and I guess it depends, you can look at all the criticism there.
One of my concerns about this process, Mr. Chairman, and you, again, in your opening statement laid out, when this nomination was put on the table it was almost unanimously rejected by the other side, and it was about policy, it was about policy, substantial policy disagreements with John Bolton and that he shouldn't serve as U.N. ambassador.
And then, as the process went on, it went from policy to procedure, from policy to personality, from policy to the ability to interact and deal well with others.
When I was a prosecutor, we used to say on closing arguments, I'd stand in front of the jury and I'd say, "You know, you got to watch out for the rabbit out of the hats trick." And what happens is that the defense would come in, they got a hat, a magician's hat, and they got lots of rabbits, and they go running around. And they hope that one member of the jury chases one of those rabbits and takes their eye off the goal, the main thing being the main thing.
And so we have the rabbit of personal relations, and we have the rabbit of violating procedure, and we have the rabbit of lack of candor, we have the rabbit of bad policy judgments.
But the bottom line is that in each and every instance, despite every measure of conflict, John Bolton delivered the approved speech. He never maliciously impacted the career of a single employee.
We could just as well have spent, this time simply reading the record, all the comments made by John Bolton from those who worked with him. there's a question about whether he can put together a team or work well with others, yet 37 officials who worked with him at USAID -- they work with him; they know him -- and their judgment was that John leads in front with courage and conviction.
He doesn't abuse power. He's direct, yet thoughtful in communication. What he does is demand from his staff personal honesty and intellectual clarity.
And then the letter from 39 other former attorney generals, distinguished citizens again who know John Bolton, again being extraordinarily positive; 21 former presidential appointees, career and noncareer civil service and foreign service employees, again who worked and know John Bolton; 43 of John Bolton's former colleagues at the American Enterprise Institute, all saying the same thing, that we know this guy, that we worked with him and he does have the ability and the skill that's needed.
And then in addition to that the statements of former secretaries of state who also worked with John Bolton. They didn't just note that he worked with them. He's got a long and distinguished career, and they were very, very clear about his ability to do what has to be done.
I think the issue here, Mr. Chairman, is what my colleague from Virginia has raised. It is about U.N. reform.
That's the issue in front of us today. And I have to say it's interesting because there are a couple of folks who have been at the U.N. who have been pretty blunt on occasion. And one of them was Jeane Kirkpatrick, who once said that what takes place in the Security Counsel and I quote, "more closely resembles a mugging than either a political debate or an effort at problem solving."
And I would note that my colleague from Massachusetts quoted Ms. Kirkpatrick, who said that, you know, we need low key, quiet consensus way.
And by the way, Miss Kirkpatrick supports John Bolton. Jean Kirkpatrick signed a letter in support of John Bolton.
She knows what the job needs. Jean Kirkpatrick was ambassador to the U.N. at a time before we had evidence of U.N. employees raping and being involved in child prostitution in Africa. She was U.S. ambassador to the U.N. before we had evidence of sexual harassment and abuse by senior U.N. officials that went undealt with for eight months.
She was ambassador to the United Nations before oil-for-food scandal. Saddam Hussein was able to rip off that program for billions of dollars.
Just today, Mr. Chairman, the committee that I chair, the permanent subcommittee investigation released reports of payoffs to folks. British members of parliament, former French foreign minister, the interior ministers, documenting -- documenting -- a system of them receiving oil allocations and payoffs going back to Saddam and then being in a position to enrich their own pockets.
Clearly, clearly the U.N. needs reform. And I think we've got to get back to what my colleague, Senator Chafee, in the end quoted, and that is that statement of John Bolton pledging, and I'm going to quote one part of it, "to fulfill the aspirations of its original promise."
That's what we want the United Nations to do.
My challenge to the United Nations is not about attacking the United Nations or tearing it down.
But it certainly needs some strong -- right now it needs some strong leadership from the United States, working in concert, but strong leadership. As an individual, John Bolton has demonstrated that capacity.
And I've got to believe that that's what the president is looking for, Mr. Chairman. That's what he's looking at.
You know, is John Bolton the nicest guy in the world? He's not going to win that prize, not going to win that prize.
But look at the challenge that we're faced with with U.N. reform. Just last week, Zimbabwe put on the Human Rights Commission. We need a kind of strength. And it's interesting. I'm saying "we."
In the end, Mr. Chairman, I do believe that John Bolton is the best person -- the best person -- that the president has picked, for this job, because that's what it's about.
Elections do have consequences. And the president has made a judgment. And he's weighed the good and he's weighed the bad. And he's looked at the tough-minded negotiations, how it played a key role in Libya's change of heart in achieving the Treaty of Moscow.
He's looked at the difficulty of getting 191 member nations of the United Nations to change their ways. And that's not going to be very, very easy, Mr. Chairman.
So in the end, as I said, and most importantly, the president needs to have the right to appoint members of his team.
John Bolton has the confidence of the president. In the absence of any wrongdoing, there's nothing on this record that demonstrates any wrongdoing.
We may have disagreements about how he interacted with staff. We may have disagreements about what's appropriate in terms of dealing with folks who you think backdoored you.
But in the end, the president should have the team he wants. He's made the determination that John Bolton is the right person to finally bring about U.N. reform.
And I look forward, Mr. Chairman, when John Bolton is confirmed, to be able to work with him in the (inaudible), and to work with folks at the U.N. to bring about reform.
I urge my colleagues to support the president's choice for U.N. ambassador. No one is better qualified to bring about U.N. reform than John Bolton. In the words of my colleague from Connecticut, the place clearly needs cleaning up. John Bolton represents our best chance to shape a credible, effective world body for the next generation.
And like my colleague from Rhode Island, I'm willing to take him at his word. I'm willing to take him at his word.
There's nothing in this hearing that should have undermined our confidence in taking him at his word, that he what he wants to do is bring back -- get the U.N. to fulfill its original aspirations.
That's a noble goal.
He's made that commitment. Let's give him a chance.
LUGAR: Thank you very much, Senator Coleman.
As I mentioned in my opening statement, the committee congratulates you on your very conscientious work as the subcommittee chairman looking into U.N. reform. And we wish you well as you continue to proceed.
COLEMAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
LUGAR: Let me just mention that at this point, there are 58 minutes remaining to the Republican side; 63 minutes available to the Democratic side.
And I call upon my distinguished ranking member to designate a speaker.
BIDEN: I would designate Senator Feingold, and if he could stay within 15 minutes...
SENATOR RUSSELL FEINGOLD (D-Wis.): Certainly.
I thank the Chairman and I thank the ranking member.
Mr. Chairman, in 2001, this committee voted to confirm John Bolton to be the undersecretary of state for arms control and international security.
I voted for Mr. Bolton at that time, despite many strong disagreements with his views on arms control and security policy generally.
In fact, it's my understanding I was the only Democrat on this committee to vote for Mr. Bolton for that position.
I did so because I generally believe that the president has the right to choose executive branch nominees who share his overall world view, even when I do not. So barring serious ethical lapses or a clear lack of appropriate qualifications for a given job, I tend to give the president a great deal of latitude in making these appointments.
Mr. Chairman, I will vote to oppose the confirmation of John Bolton to be the next United States ambassador to the United Nations.
As I indicated last month, Mr. Bolton is simply unsuited for the job to which he has been nominated.
His blatant hostility toward the institution in which he would serve and his country of pursuing his personal policy agenda while holding public office indicate that he would be ill-equipped to advance U.S. interests as our ambassador to the United Nations.
I share the views of many who are insisting on reform at the U.N. The U.N. must become more effective and more accountable. And as stewards of the American taxpayers dollars, we mush insist on that point.
But Mr. Bolton's record suggests that his personal animosity toward the United Nations is so great that he would rather see the institution dramatically weakened rather than strengthened through reform. He seems to view the U.N. as an instrument to be used when it suits only our immediate interests, but one best ignored or either undermined the rest of the time.
His failure to grasp the give-and-take required for effective multilateralism, makes him a real obstacle to any hope of pursuing vital U.S. interests and increasing burden-sharing and marshalling a global force strong enough to defeat the terrorist networks that seek to do us harm.
Mr. Bolton's idea of U.N. reform would hurt rather than help U.S. interests.
Mr. Bolton's record also reveals many, instances of intemperance and rash decision-making.
At least two senior intelligence officials told committee staff that Bolton's draft testimony prepared for a House having on Syria in 2003 went well beyond what the intelligence community could clear.
This wasn't a case in which INR alone had concerns about Bolton's proposed language. The CIA, the Department of Energy, and the Defense Intelligence Agency all objected.
And according to interviews conducted by the committee staff, Bolton's office, quote, "pushed back," unquote, resisting the intelligence community's efforts to alter problematic provisions.
Bolton was determined to be such a loose cannon that the deputy secretary of state instituted an extraordinary policy to address the problem requiring all of Mr. Bolton's public presentations to be cleared by Larry Wilkerson, Secretary Powell's chief of staff, or Deputy Secretary Armitage himself.
Given this that Mr. Bolton's personal agenda would always be subordinated to that of the secretary of state, who in testimony before this committee, and in her first days in office, has placed such a premium on restoring frayed diplomatic ties.
Additional information that has come to light since our last meeting has simply affirmed my conclusion that this is one of the rare cases in which I must oppose a president's nominee for a position in the executive branch.
First, the record indicating that Mr. Bolton was in the business of suppressing dissent has only gotten stronger. It's a matter of record that Bolton sought to retaliate against intelligence analysts when their work did not suit his policy inclinations.
Now, this is not about careless remarks simply made in the heat of a tough bureaucratic dispute. The evidence shows that over a period of many months Mr. Bolton repeatedly sought Mr. Westermann's removal from his portfolio at INR, which would mean effectively ending his career.
Mr. Bolton repeatedly sought the removal of Mr. Smith from his post at the National Intelligence Office for Latin America, again pursuing this vendetta for months, not just for heated minutes, but for months, going so far as to consider blocking country clearance for Mr. Smith to travel abroad.
In both cases, the offense that so incensed Mr. Bolton appears to be that the analysts did their jobs; they presented the facts as they saw them, and they declined to keep silent when the facts did not support what Mr. Bolton wanted to say.
And in both cases, senior officials with decades of experience in government who were involved in these episodes told committee staff that Bolton's actions, his attempts to retaliate against these analysts, were absolutely extraordinary.
In addition to these disturbing incidents, other interviews revealed a broader pattern to simply cut out those who disagreed with his policy views or those who he believed disagreed with his policy views from the policymaking process entirely.
This kind of tunnel vision -- everyone else, out of the room approach -- was summed up by Secretary of State Powell's chief of staff, Larry Wilkerson, who told the committee staff, quote, "When people ignore diplomacy that is aimed at dealing with" -- referring to North Korea's nuclear weapons development problem -- "in order to push their pet rocks in other areas, it bothers me as a diplomat and as a citizen of this country."
And then, when asked specifically if he thought that Mr. Bolton had done that, Wilkerson said, "Absolutely."
Mr. Wilkerson ended his interview with the committee with the following comments, quote, "I would like to make just one statement. I don't have a large problem with Undersecretary Bolton serving our country. My objections to what we've been talking about here, that is, him being our ambassador to the United Nations, s lousy leader, and there are 100 to 150 people up there that have to be led. They have to be led well, and they have to be led properly. And I think in that capacity if he goes up there you'll seroblems at the United Nations. And that's the only reason I said anything," end of quote.
Some have suggested that because Mr. Bolton did not succeed in his attempts to end the careers of analysts whose dissenting views angered him and because he did not succeed in his attempts to manipulate the government's processes to shut out voices of disagreement, caution or dissent, that in the end, as I think the phrase has been used, no harm, no foul or that there's no problem here.
I cannot believe that any of my colleagues actually believes that's true.
Why, after all that we've learned about the vital importance of dissent in the intelligence community from the 9/11 Commission, the Silberman-Robb commission, and numerous other investigations into the major intelligence failures that have gravely harmed our credibility and our security over the past years, why would we choose to promote to a position of prominence and trust an individual who has tried strenuously to manipulate intelligence?
Finally, in recent weeks, serious concerns have been raised regarding Mr. Bolton's understanding of his obligations to be forthcoming with this committee. Several of Mr. Bolton's answers to senators' questions were misleading, and several were quite blatantly nonresponsive.
In light of the evidence this committee has seen in recent weeks, most of us can probably agree that if Mr. Bolton does end up being our next ambassador to the U.N., extremely careful oversight will be required. But our oversight responsibilities depend, in many instances, on the executive branch officials who come before us understanding that they have a constitutional obligation to be forthcoming with Congress.
I have no confidence that Mr. Bolton intends to adhere to this obligation.
Mr. Bolton's nomination raises fundamental questions regarding both credibility and accountability -- the credibility of our representation at the U.N., the credibility of intelligence, the credibility of the oversight process are all at stake.
And the question of whether or not this committee will hold officials who seek to suppress descent accountable for their actions is before us today as well.
I, like many other members of this committee, deeply appreciate the extraordinary courage of the many people who came forward to share with this committee their own concerns about Mr. Bolton's fitness for the U.N. post or to correct inaccuracies in the record, in some cases, at real risk to their careers.
I am grateful for their efforts, and I deeply appreciate their honesty.
And thank you very much, Senator Feingold.
SENATOR CHUCK HAGEL (R-Neb.): Mr. Chairman, thank you.
I would like to add my thanks to you and to the ranking member for the work that you have produced, the contributions you've made, and the leadership you've shown at a difficult, but important time.
I would add also my thanks to the staff, both minority and majority, for their work.
There have been some references today to the relevancy and the importance of this committee.
I believe it was Mr. Biden who noted, as others on the Democratic side, their years of service on this committee, and how over those years, unfortunately, the Foreign Relations Committee of the United States Senate has diminished not only in stature, but in importance.
I make this point because I recall when I was elected in 1996 and I was given -- as all new senator are, their choice of committees, limited. And the committee that I asked to be considered for first was the Foreign Relations Committee.
And I was questioned by the political experts at the time, "Why in the world would you wasted your time on the foreign relations committee? Not only was it a committee that could not raise money, where is the constituency in America for foreign relations? Where is the constituency for diplomacy? Where is the constituency for the United Nations, their problems, their drains on our budget, their drains on our energy? So why in the world would you do that?"
Second, why would you do it? Because it was not an important committee, maybe it once was.
I remember Ted Kennedy telling me years ago that his brother John Kennedy wanted to be on the Foreign Relations Committee when he came to the Senate, but he couldn't get on it. It took him a few years to get on it, because it was then regarded as one of the most important committees in the United States Senate.
Why was that? It was after World War II, and we were literally restructuring the world.
"We," I emphasize, we. The United States led, but we did it with alliances and coalitions and friends and strong allies who believed in our purpose.
I also mention this point, not only to again acknowledge you and the ranking member for what you have done to make this a relevant committee once again, but in fact it is the committee -- and this was my answer to those who asked me the question about why I would want to be on this committee -- my answer was, it is the committee that is the framework that represents America's interests around the world.
When you look at the jurisdiction of this committee, it is wide, deep and relevant, and it is becoming more and more so.
So therefore this nomination that we are meeting to discuss today and will vote on later is important, and this committee is important, and therefore should never, ever be framed up by either the Democratic Party or the Republican Party as a partisan issue. It has never worked that way, nor should it ever.
And the groups on both sides of this issue do a great disservice to our country when they try to simplify it into a political common denominator issue. It is not.
This position, the United States permanent representative to the United Nations, is one of the most important jobs in our government. It is the American face to the world. That's important; 191 nations, no body in the world like the United Nations.
And who structured and framed and led to put the United Nations together after World War II? The United States.
The United Nations, like all multilateral institutions that we led on, we framed, we put together after World War II, have been extensions of America's purpose and our power, not limitations.
It's given us alliances. It's given us opportunities to promote who we are. And it has, quite frankly, served our foreign relations objectives.
Now, is the United Nations in need of reform? Of course it is. And it has wondered from its original charter.
I do not believe that necessarily is the core issue here, but some have tried to frame up that if you're against John Bolton, you're against reform of the United Nations. That's patently ridiculous. That makes no sense. That is not the issue.
And I would say to my friend from Virginia, I would think that Mr. Negroponte and our former colleague, Mr. Danforth, who had been recent U.N. ambassado President Bush would consider himself as a milquetoast and a tea drinker -- maybe they drink tea -- nor Jeane Kirkpatrick.
We're talking about something bigger and wider here than just those easy characterizations.
Ladies and gentleman, we're living through a transformational time in the history of man. This is one of the most defining, important times in the history of the world. That's the bigger picture here.
And whether Mr. Bolton is qualified or not, obviously, is our more concise challenge for this committee.
I have had long conversations with Secretary Rice about Mr. Bolton. I have known Mr. Bolton, I worked with Mr. Bolton, and I have had long conversations with Mr. Bolton.
As has been noted here, mainly on our side of the committee, he has assured me, he has assured the president and Secretary Rice, that he will carry out the policy of this administration, that policy set by the president. Foreign relations is set by the president, not the secretary of state, but the president.
And President Bush has been forceful over the last few months, talking about the importance of the United Nations.
I take the president at his word. I take the secretary of state at her word, and Mr. Bolton in saying that he will be -- my words, I asked -- a uniter, a builder, someone in fact not only who will carry out the interests of the United States at the United Nations, but will go beyond that.
The expectations are high for Mr. Bolton and they should be. Anyone we send to the United Nations to represent this great country to the world should be held to very high expectations. But in the end, he's the agent of the president.
I have enough confidence in this president, this secretary of state to take them at their word, and Mr. Bolton at his word when he says that "I will be a uniter. I will be a builder, and do the things that will be required not just to reform the United Nations, but to go beyond that."
This isn't just about reforming the United Nations. This is about extending America's purpose and the optics and who we are and reaching out.
If there was ever a time in history that the United States requires friends and alliances in coalitions it is now. The world is too complicated to do otherwise. It is too dangerous to do otherwise.
Many of you have read Tom Friedman's new book, and I recommend it highly. Tom Friedman captures the essence of the world that we live in today, but more importantly, the world our children will live in in the next few years. The name of that book is "The World is Flat."
There's a diffusion of power in the world today that we've never seen. I think that's good for America.
We've worked for that. That means that we carry less burden. Hopefully, we will become less and less the world's policeman.
It means now we've lost over 1600 dead in Iraq and over 12,000 wounded. Hopefully, there will be a time when that won't occur because we are sharing responsibilities in the world.
These are the big issues that we're talking about in this committee, and specifically for this nominee.
Mr. Chairman, I am, like all on this committee, grateful to be on the committee. I am privileged to serve the United States Senate. And as long as I am an elected official in the United States Senate I will do what I think is right, not for my party, not for my president, but for the country that I take, as all my colleagues do, an allegiance to when I swear to the Constitution of the United States.
I say this again because there is afoot in this land a dangerous, dangerous move, in both extremes of the political parties, to make foreign policy and everything a political issue.
We will not only debase our system and our process, but we will make the world far more dangerous than it is and at a complicated, historic, transformational time in our history.
We must stop it and get above it. We're dealing with other issues like this in the United States Senate.
We are elected to uphold the interests of this country first.
We will all make our vote today on the Bolton nomination. I will support the president. I'll support the chairman's motion to move this nomination out onto the floor of the Senate.
Mr. Chairman, thank you.
LUGAR: Thank you very much, Senator Hagel.
Senator Biden, will you designate...
BIDEN: ... colleague from California.
LUGAR: Senator Boxer?
SENATOR BARBARA BOXER (D-Calif.): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you, Senator Biden.
Thanks to all the members of the committee who feel very strongly about this one way or the other.
I do agree with what Senator Hagel said, that we are at a critical moment in U.S. foreign policy, a time where we need to lead the world to a better place. It is that fork in the road where one place is dark and one place is light. And to do that, we need the world with us so much, or the burdens on our people will just be too much to bear.
And I think Senator Voinovich said that in a magnificent way. I think Senator Hagel also said that in a beautiful way, and other members said it in their way.
And that's why this debate is so important, and that's why the U.N. ambassador is so important. Will this individual unite the world with us so that we can move to that better place?
I was sort of stunned at Senator Coleman when he asked a rhetorical question: "Who makes the judgment about who is the best person to represent the U.N.?" he asked rhetorically, and then went on to answer his question: "There was an election."
But, Senator, you forgot something: There was an election for individual senators too, and maybe it's because I remember it because I also was on the ballot at the same time as the president.
And I would just urge the senator to look at Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution. "The president shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate shall appoint ambassadors."
It doesn't say with the advice and consent of the president if he feels like it or if he's in the mood for it, or he should turn to the Senate on Monday at three.
It's pretty clear here. It's in the same sentence.
And I hope that you will have more pride in this institution and your responsibility not to say that it is the president alone. Regardless of whether the president is a Democrat or a Republican, it is a shared responsibility. And that's why this debate is so important.
It also is not about whether Mr. Bolton is nice. As my friend said, he said it certainly shouldn't be about that. And he's right. It is about many other things of deep importance where my friend just doesn't want to go. And I understand it.
I do want to pick up on something Senator Dodd said, because I think it's key.
There is not a majority on this committee in favor of Mr. Bolton right now. There is not. And it is our job to send a signal to our colleagues.
And I think to send a signal that we're moving this forward would be the wrong signal. It's not true. There is not a majority on this committee who supports John Bolton today.
So I will not be voting to move this forward without recommendation.
And there's another point, Mr. Chairman, that really involves you and Senator Biden more than it involves me.
But I am deeply disappointed that we have not gotten all the information we requested. And I agree with my leader on this committee, Senator Biden, that this is a matter of principle.
Perhaps there's nothing in there. Perhaps there's something. But there are several areas. The intercepts, that's one area. Mr. Friedman and his potential conflicts, we've asked for that information. And there's some information about Syria.
And I will just say -- because, Mr. Chairman, I have such respect for you, I would never blindside you -- that I am going to do all I can to see that we get this information before this gets onto the floor. Because it's not right to cast a vote where you really don't have the full information.
BOXER: Now, Mr. Chairman, I think there are many reasons to oppose Mr. Bolton. I'm going to lay them out, but I'm not going to go on -- hopefully not for the full 15 minutes, but it may happen. Sometimes I forget to watch the clock.
But I would ask that my full statement be placed in the record.
LUGAR: It will be placed in the record in full.
So I will skim through and I will not reiterate what other people have.
First, and to me the most important is -- I can't ever say it -- the politicization -- and I didn't say it right -- of intelligence.
This is the most important issue, when we see what phony and exaggerated intelligence can lead to. It can lead to war. We've seen it. It's happening every day.
It is tragic: thousands of deaths and injuries -- 1,600 deaths, plus. And in my state, we have about 25 percent of those deaths -- people who were born in California or were activated from California. So we wear that heavily in our state.
So why on Earth would we want to hire someone who has shown he's willing to put political pressure on independent intelligence analysts?
We know about Westermann; we know about Mr. Smith. I'm not going to go through that. We know about it.
Robert Hutchings, chairman of the NIC, described the risks of this politicizing intelligence in this way: "I think every judgment ought to be challenged and questioned, but when it goes beyond that to a search for a pretty clearly defined preformed set of judgments, then it's politicization. And even when it's successfully resisted, it creates a climate of intimidation and a culture of conformity that is damaging."
So here we take someone who put pressure on these people -- you saw the charts that Senator Dodd had -- reached down. This is not a person that we should be promoting when we have the war in Iraq that was based on this faulty intelligence. We shouldn't do it.
Second reason: disdain for the U.N.
I know that doesn't get a lot of votes around here, but it seems to me putting someone into that situation who has said there is no United Nations, it is shocking. I mean, Senator Biden said surprising. It was shocking to me.
I think in that regard there are inaccurate comparisons to Moynihan and Kirkpatrick. I think Senator Kerry pointed that out. And I will let that go into the record.
International law, John Bolton's comments versus Senator Moynihan, it's not even in the same league.
Then there's three: a pattern of retribution and abuse. And, again, we know about what he tried to do.
So it's not only that he tried to twist arms to get faulty intelligence forward, but he actually exerted retribution on people. That's wrong. And someone like that should not be promoted.
And, again, I'll put all of that into the record.
But I'm going to close with two areas, one that Senator Kerry touched on: the failure to be candid with this committee.
My God, we ought to at least believe that we deserve someone to tell us the whole truth. And I want to go through this on a chart here, because I can't do it any other way, so bear with me.
Bolton: "I never sought to have Mr. Westermann fired at all. I in no sense sought to have any discipline imposed on Mr. Westermann."
Carl Ford, responding to that: "I remember going back to my office with the impression that I had been asked to fire the analyst. Now, whether the words were 'fire,' whether that was 'reassign,' 'get him away from me,' 'I don't want to see him again,' I don't remember. I do remember that I came away with the impression that I'd just been asked to fire somebody in the intelligence community for doing what I considered their job."
Bolton, quote: "I may have mentioned the Westermann issue to one or two people, but then I shrugged my shoulders and moved on."
Several months later Bolton raised Mr. Westermann with the INR director, Neil Silver. According to Mr. Silver, quote: "To the best of my recollection, Bolton raised Mr. Westermann's name and he asked or indicated that he would like me to consider having him moved to some other portfolio."
Bolton: "So I basically went out to pay a courtesy call on Mr. Cohen. And it's true, I drove my own car out there. I have to make a confession here. The CIA is sort of, more or less, on the way home for me, and from time to time, when I've gone out there, I've driven my own car. I've had my meetings. I hate to say this, but I left and went home."
He takes a long time to describe how he just dropped by on the way home. He says, "I didn't go back to the office."
Well, we have Secretary Bolton's calendar here for the day in question. The meeting with Mr. Cohen was scheduled, it was on his schedule for 9:30, and he had other meetings scheduled that afternoon.
And I think we go on with some other charts here.
Is that the 10 minutes or the 15?
BIDEN: That's 10.
BOXER: Ten? OK.
Bolton: "I went out to pay a courtesy call, and my recollection is, the bulk of the meeting was composed of Mr. Cohen explaining to me what the NIC did and told me what their publications were and how it had been created, and gave me some background on it."
Committee staff member asked, "Do you remember giving Bolton a primer about the NIC?"
Mr. Cohen: "No. I just don't recall the details of the meeting, other than the fact that there was a focus on Mr. Smith."
Bolton: "I didn't seek to have these people fired. I didn't seek to have discipline imposed on them. I said I've lost trust in them and there are other portfolios they could follow."
Carl Ford: "I do remember that I came away with the impression that I'd been asked to fire somebody in the intelligence community."
John Mclaughlin, former deputy director of the CIA -- "Do you recall other requests similar to this to remove one of your analyst?"
John Mclaughlin: "No. This is the only time I had ever heard of such a request. I didn't think it appropriate."
Burton: "And I can tell you what our ambassador to South Korea, Tom Hubbard said after the speech. He said, 'Thanks a lot for that speech, John. It will help us a lot out here."'
Hubbard, former ambassador to South Korea quote, "At the very least he greatly, greatly exaggerated my comments. I told the committee that if you're basing your vote on Bolton's assertion that I approved his speech, that is not true."
So, we see here lack of candor, misleading statements. It's absolutely shocking to me that more people on the committee aren't disturbed with this.
I also would say this. The strongest opposition to Mr. Bolton outside of members of this committee comes from the people from the Bush administration.
And I don't have time to read everything, but here we have again Carl Ford, Lawrence Wilkerson. He says, and I won't repeat that quote because somebody else gave it.
Elizabeth Jones, former assistant secretary of state of European and Eurasian affairs: "I don't know if he's capable of negotiation, but he's unwilling."
John Wolf, former assistant secretary of state for nonproliferation: "I believe it would be fair to say that some of the officers within my bureau complained that they felt undue pressure to conform to the views of the undersecretary versus the views that they thought they could support."
And again, John Mclaughlin: "It's perfectly all right for a policy maker to express disagreement with an NIO or an analyst, and it's perfectly all right for them to challenge such an individual vigorously, challenge their work, but I think it's different to then request, because of the disagreement, the person be transferred. I had high regard for the individual's work, therefore, I had a strong negative reaction to the suggestion about moving him."
So here you have people from the Bush administration who served there proudly, in many cases saying -- they're conservative, they're Republican, they're proud to support the president, the vice president -- coming out against this nominee.
It is hard for me to understand why the president didn't simply say he's going to send down somebody else.
I guess he wants a fight. I guess he's asking people to walk the line. And if that's where we're going, that's where we're going, because we're going to have a fight. If this comes to thones on the committee.
But that's the greatness of this place. We'll take this battle, we'll take these quotes, we'll take these interviews down to the floor.
I'm going to ask the American people to help us on this one.
And I thank you all.
LUGAR: Thank you, Senator Boxer.
The chair would like to recognize Senator Alexander.
Let me just add before you commence, Senator Alexander, 48 minutes remain on our side, so this means hopefully a framing of 10 minutes speeches, more or less. And if you would proceed on that basis, I'd appreciate it.
BIDEN: Mr. Chairman, without us asking for any more time -- we won't -- if you need more time, it's fine by us, for your people to be able to speak.
LUGAR: I appreciate the chairman.
BIDEN: Thank you.
SENATOR LAMAR ALEXANDER (R-Tenn.): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you, Senator Biden.
That should be plenty of time. And if you could let me know when that's about expired, I'll expire as well.
I'd like to insert my full statement in the record, if I may.
LUGAR: It will be included in full in the record.
ALEXANDER: And I would like to thank the chairman for this opportunity.
I'd like to summarize a few points in my remarks. I've said what I had to say before in this committee. And after reviewing the evidence and listening to the hearings, which I did, I made a statement just before the recess, about 10 days ago, about how I felt.
So I'd like to summarize those thoughts and basically since I'm convinced Mr. Bolton's credentials for the position are well established, superior credentials, I'd like to try to put in context the charges that have been made against him and the conclusion I've come to and how I evaluate those charges.
It's important, even though it's been repeated many times, to remind ourselves of the credentials.
Because of those credentials, I expected to be impressed by Mr. Bolton when he appeared before the committee, and I was. I mean, not many people have been, as the chairman indicated in his remarks, confirmed four times by the United States Senate for major positions, undersecretary, assistant secretary, assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice. That was in another administration. That was in the 1980s. Those were big jobs, so those are jobs that manage large numbers of attorneys in complex cases.
And then his academic record is unusually good. Many of the senators have recited his accomplishments in professional life: the U.N. resolution on Zionism, the work he did with the U.N. helping to shepherd the resolutions about Kuwait in 1991; the fact that the secretary general asked former secretary of state, Jim Baker to help with Eastern Sahara and Baker invited John Bolton. All of those activities suggested a very accomplished nominee.
And so I was not surprised when on the first day of our hearings his performance was impressive. I listened. I was here for most of it. I thought he displayed a good command of the issues, extremely detailed knowledge of the United Nations.
And that, while he got hard questions -- as nominees are supposed to get. I once had the honor of going through a confirmation process before a committee of the United States Senate. It's a very special experience, and I thought he handled that experience very, very well. He handled it calmly. He answered the questions. He wasn't combative.
I went home that day very impressed. I was impressed by the strong support from the former secretaries of state who have been mentioned, and by the number of ambassadors who have been mentioned.
And I had lunch with one of those ambassadors the other day, who's well known to this group, Senator Howard Baker, who was ambassador to Japan. And he volunteered to me, this former majority leader of the United States Senate, how he had dealt with Secretary Bolton over the last four years while Senator Baker was in Japan, and how impressed he was with him.
He said, "He's a good man. He'd make a good ambassador. He spoke frankly. I enjoyed working with him."
So after one day, I was very impressed.
I was surprised and disappointed by the second day of testimony. It was a little different.
Carl Ford, who's been mentioned here, was a good witness, very believable. He didn't overstate his case. He acknowledged it wasn't unusual for policy people and intelligence people to disagree.
He was really mad about the fact that John Bolton, in his words, had chewed out somebody way down the line. He didn't like it at all, and he felt it was important to come before the committee and say so.
Many members of the committee know and respect him. I found his testimony believable, and I was disappointed by it.
There have been some other things said about Mr. Bolton which Mr. Ford himself dismissed. Mr. Ford himself said there wasn't politicization of the intelligence that Mr. Bolton was accused of misusing.
There was other testimony which has been dealt through here. Senator Lugar and others have talked about it.
But as I've listened very carefully to all of the charges, in the end only one charge, to me, seemed to have any substance. And that is that John Bolton has been rude to staff members who had subordinate jobs to his in the United States government.
I imagine Mr. Bolton is embarrassed by those charges. I didn't like to hear them. And perhaps he deserves to be embarrassed by those charges. And perhaps he's learned a lesson.
What I heard didn't change my vote. But I hope it might change some of Mr. Bolton's ways in dealings with his colleagues and with other people in the bureaucracies with which he will be working.
How significant is this charge of rudeness? Because it has been mentioned by others, if it were the standard for remaining in the United States Senate, we probably wouldn't be able to get a quorum.
There are regular occasions, all of us know about them, when senators, eager to make their own points, are rude to their staffs and even, occasionally, shout at one another.
In fact, the noise was so loud in our first hearing I was not sure I would be able to hear the charges against Mr. Bolton above the shouting.
It's not attractive. I don't endorse it. It's even caused me to think back over times I may have become impatient or angry or startled in dealing with a staff member or another person, and it's redoubled my efforts to try to make sure I swallow my pride, think about what I say, and not do that anymore. It's not good business.
But how significant is this, is the question. Given such a distinguished credentialed person, with such broad experience that this body has confirmed four different times, how big a problem is this?
Here's what former Secretary Larry Eagleburger had to say about it.
Now, Larry Eagleburger's comments deserve special consideration in this discussion. We often hear about a man being a football player's football player, or a woman is a woman's woman. Well, Larry Eagleburger is a foreign service officer's secretary of state.
For 27 years he was in the foreign service. He has enormous respect from all those men and women around the world who put their lives on the line in support of our diplomacy and foreign policy. And here is what Larry Eagleburger had to say about John Bolton.
"As to the charge," quoting, "that Bolton has been tough on subordinates, I can say only that in more than a decade of association with him in the State Department, I never saw or heard anything to support such a charge. I never saw or heard anything to support such a charge.
"Nor do I see anything wrong with challenging intelligence analysts on their findings. They can, as recent history demonstrates, make mistakes, and they must be prepared to defend their findings under intense questioning.
"If John pushed too hard or dressed down subordinates, he deserves criticism. But it hardly merits a vote against confirmation when balanced against his many accomplishments," unquote.
Mr. Chairman, that's where I am. I think the benefit of hearing Mr. Ford's testimony might be a little bit of a lesson to Mr. Bolton, and a reminder to the rest of us of how unattractive it is to shout at an associate or colleague or unnecessarily dress down a staff member in a moment of impatience or disagreement.
I agree with Secretary Eagleburger, though. John Bolton has a distinguished background and record. He has dedicated himself to improving our country's foreign policy.
His action toward subordinates might have been inappropriate -- perhaps he has learned a lesson -- but it doesn't cause me to change my vote. I'm glad to support him.
This is a critical time for the United Nations. It has many important roles. I'm glad we have it.
I believe a frank-talking, experienced diplomat named John Bolton is an excellent candidate for the commission, and I'm glad -- I hope -- that he will move out of this committee to the floor so we can discuss it.
Two more briefs things I would like to say about members of the committee.
I especially appreciated the comments of the senator from Nebraska as he talked about the role of this committee and the importance of our looking at our responsibilities in the world on a basis that puts our allegiance first to the country. And I'll do my best to do that.
I want to express to Senator Voinovich of Ohio my respect for his careful thinking about this. I know him well and have for a long time. He's always been dedicated to civil servants, those who work for the government, and he would be the first to be offended by rudeness to anyone down the line. I'm not so surprised that he reacted strongly to this, and I respect his thoughtful statement.
And I'd like to say to the chairman, who has great patience, that he's demonstrated almost all of it during this consideration: 94 questions from the record, testimony from Mr. Ford, 700 pages of documents, some people suggesting you're stonewalling.
You have, with the cooperation of Senator Biden, over time helped this committee be an outpost of decency and thoughtfulness in a time of increased partisanship.
And for that I thank you, and I appreciate your patience, which has been more than almost any of the rest of us would likely have had.
Thank you for the time.
LUGAR: I thank the senator.
Senator Biden, you designate.
LUGAR: Senator Obama?
OBAMA: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Biden.
I was extraordinarily impressed with the presentation that Senator Voinovich made, and I think that he expressed a number of the concerns that many of us share on this committee.
So I'm not going to reiterate all my points. I would like to have my statement placed in the record.
LUGAR: It'll be placed in the record in full.
OBAMA: There are a couple of issues that I think are important to touch on.
The first is, I think the tendency in this debate to suggest that opposition to Mr. Bolton's nomination is based on the fact that is occasionally rude, he showed some bluster, he got mad. The previous speaker is exactly right.
OBAMA: If that's the only criteria by which we would oppose a nomination, then most of us might not qualify because at any point and time we've displayed probably inappropriate behavior or anger that we regret afterwards.
And I think if somebody was to look at our life's work and behavior and was able to scrutinize it, that a lot of us would have problems.
That, unfortunately, is not, I think, the basis for our objections here. I think the basis for the objections have to do with very specific credible allegations that Mr. Bolton reached down, not to immediate subordinates of his, but reached far afield to attempt to have fired intelligence officers that would not support statements that he was making on behalf of the United States government or wished to make on behalf of the United States government.
Now, we can define politicization in various ways. What I do know is that there is substantial credible evidence from Republican appointees serving in the Bush administration that Mr. Bolton sought to massage intelligence to fit an ideological predisposition.
Now, it's been stated that intelligence officers are often wrong and their analysis should be challenged. In fact, our recent history indicates that where intelligence officers are wrong it primarily has to do with the fact that they succumb to the temptation to tell the folks higher up what they want to hear. That appears to be part of what happened with respect to our failed intelligence in Iraq.
And at a time when it is critical for us to have sound intelligence, we should be sending a message to our intelligence officers that, in fact, we want them to play it straight and to tell us stuff even when we don't necessarily want to hear it.
And that is not what Mr. Bolton appears to do. That's not how he operates. And that is credible evidence.
There may have been some other evidence of allegations with respect to Mr. Bolton's behavior, that were not supported. His attempt to reach down and have intelligence officers removed from their positions because they provided analysis that was not what he wanted to hear, that does not appear to be largely disputed.
Now, I think the president is entitled to the benefit of the doubt when appointing senior members of his team. To that end, I supported a number of the president's choices for top foreign policy positions, including Secretary Rice and including Robert Zoellick to be I take very seriously.
I think that the breach of the line between politics and policy- making and intelligence in and of itself renders Mr. Bolton less than credible in his position at the United Nations.
Let me add one additional point that I think may not have been touched on in the hearings this morning. It's been suggested that perhaps we should vote for Mr. Bolton anyway, even if he has a bad temper, even if he showed some poor judgment with respect to how he handled intelligence, because he is so highly qualified for the job.
The suggestion is is that his competence is such, is so unique, that we are willing to overlook some of his warts.
I'm a little bit baffled as to that assertion. This is not a line of inquiry that we really pursued much during the course of our discussions here. But when I look at the record of Mr. Bolton during the last four years at the State Department, as the top arms control and nonproliferation official for the United States, I am not impressed with that record.
Let's just examine some of the things that he was responsible for.
The approach that was advocated by Mr. Bolton with respect to North Korea -- and the administration -- has simply not worked. Here's the bottom line. Under Mr. Bolton's watch, there are no longer international inspectors and cameras at any site in North Korea.
The North Koreans have withdrawn from the NPT. We believe that North Korea has developed six to eight nuclear weapons during Mr. Bolton's watch.
Now, when North Korea has one or two nuclear weapons the situation is critical. They can test one weapon and hold one weapon. When it has six to eight the situation is terminal. It can test one, hold a couple, sell the rest. And we all know that North Korea will do virtually anything for money.
That's not a record that I'm wildly impressed with. And when I hear Mr. Bolton testify to my questioning directly and say, when I asked, "Do you think that your approach with respect to engaging and name calling toward North Korea in a speech was helpful?" and he says, "The ambassador of South Korea told me 'Thank goodness. You really helped out,"' and that same ambassador, a Bush appointee, Ambassador Hubbard, has to say publicly in the newspapers, "I never said such a thing," that indicates to me a problem.
Anther area that he was responsible for: Non-Proliferation Treaty. There's little doubt that the NPT is a critically important tool for combating nuclear proliferation. At the same time, it needs to be strengthened.
The president recognized this reality, and pledged to do so in a 2004 speech at National Defense University. A week later, Mr. Bolton pledged to do the same.
What's happened in the interim? Virtually nothing. The administration has made very little progress on this issue. The NPT review conference currently underway is not going well.
Newsweek reports that quote, "The United States has been losing control of the conference's agenda this week to Iran and other countries, a potentially serious setback to U.S. efforts to isolate Tehran."
Where has Mr. Bolton been throughout this process?
In this same article in Newsweek they state, "Since last fall Bolton, Bush's embattled nominee to be America's ambassador to the United Nations, has aggressively lobbied for a senior job in the second Bush administration. During that time Mr. Bolton did almost no diplomatic groundwork for the NPT conference, these officials say.
"Everyone knew the conference was coming, and that it would be contentious, says a former senior Bush official, but Bolton stopped all diplomacy on this six months ago."