Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The Bolton Nomination: An Effort to Derail?

The Bolton Nomination: An Effort to Derail?

April 18 issue - Are efforts to derail John Bolton's nomination as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations progressing? NEWSWEEK has learned that in a closed-door interview with Senate intelligence-committee staffers last week, Stuart Cohen, former acting chief of the National Intelligence Council, a panel of senior intel analysts, said Bolton had visited his CIA office to demand that the council's top Latin America expert be removed from his post. Sources say the expert, who can't be identified because he serves undercover overseas, tangled with Bolton about the draft of a speech Bolton made in 2002 claiming that Cuba was pursuing a germ-warfare program. A Senate intel-committee report last year quoted another WMD analyst from the State Department as saying that Bolton had also tried to have him transferred because he raised questions about the same speech. (Neither analyst was reassigned.)

Senate Democrats expect a witness will appear at Bolton's delayed confirmation hearing this week to testify about Bolton's alleged attempts to intimidate intel professionals. Intel sources say a review last fall of Cuban WMD programs by the entire U.S. intel community vindicated the analysts who questioned the draft of Bolton's speech. The review concluded that U.S. agencies had reason to doubt the accuracy of a 1999 intel estimate which Bolton used to justify his claim that Cuba had "at least a limited offensive biological warfare research and development effort." Senate Republicans don't believe that Bolton's criticism of analysts was out of bounds. Bolton declined to comment.

—Mark Hosenball