WASHINGTON – A Senate Democrat has offered national intelligence officials a proposal in the dispute over obtaining classified information about John R. Bolton (search), President Bush's nominee to be U.N. ambassador.
Senate Republican Leader Bill Frist (search), meanwhile, said a vote to consider Bolton's embattled nomination is not certain this week, as senators prepare instead to debate two judicial nominees.
Sen. Christopher Dodd (search), D-Conn., told National Intelligence Director John D. Negroponte that the impasse over Bolton could be broken if officials reveal whether certain people were not mentioned in classified communications that Bolton reviewed when he was the State Department's arms control chief.
Dodd offered to send Negroponte a list of names, and if none are in the classified intercepts, "the matter would be closed," he said in a letter released Monday. Dodd's office declined to say who may be on such a list, and Negroponte's office had no comment.
So far the administration has refused senators access to the names of the U.S. officials mentioned in 10 communications intercepted by the National Security Agency (search). That refusal was a key factor in the Senate's vote late last month to delay Bolton's confirmation.
Democrats have opposed Bolton's nomination in part because they say he shut out or retaliated against subordinates or intelligence analysts who disagreed with him. And they have questioned why he wanted the communications and whether he was targeting certain U.S. officials.
Dodd, who spoke to Negroponte by phone and also sent him a letter, said he is not trying to prevent a vote on Bolton's nomination, but believes the NSA information is critical for senators trying to make an informed decision.
The Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee were allowed to see edited versions of the intercepts, with the names blocked out. Afterward, Sen. Pat Roberts (search), R-Kan., the committee chairman, said it was clear there was nothing improper in Bolton's requests to see the intercepts.