Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Official blasts Bush UN nominee


Official blasts Bush UN nominee

A former US official has said President Bush's choice to be US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, is a bully who is unsuitable for the job.

Ex-state department official Carl Ford was testifying before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee examining Mr Bolton's nomination.

Mr Bolton, a critic of the UN, has denied trying to have people who disagreed with him sacked.

Intelligence director nominee John Negroponte has also faced a hearing.

It is very unusual for a nomination hearing to concentrate so intensely on an individual's alleged personal failings, but Democrats claim that Mr Bolton has shortcomings which genuinely interfere with his ability to do the UN job, says the BBC's Justin Webb in Washington.

-Yale Law School graduate
-As assistant secretary of state under George Bush senior,
helped organise anti-Saddam alliance
-Made under-secretary of state for arms control and international security
in May 2001
-In July 2003, condemned North Korean leader Kim Jong-il for living like
royalty while people lived in "hellish nightmare"

Mr Ford used to run the state department's intelligence arm.

He said Mr Bolton was a serial abuser of junior staff and that his treatment of an intelligence analyst who disagreed with him on the subject of Cuba damaged the work of the department.

"The collateral damage and the personal hurt that he causes is not worth the price that had to be paid. It simply is out of bounds for the federal bureaucracy to allow a bully to run wild over people," he told the Senate committee.

He described Mr Bolton as a "kiss up, kick down" bureaucrat.

Mr Bolton will probably be approved by the Senate later this week, but this has been an extremely bruising process, our correspondent says.

Democrats oppose Mr Bolton's nomination, but they need the support of at least one Republican on the committee to block it.

Rhode Island Senator Lincoln Chafee had been considering voting against Mr Bolton, but said he was impressed with his opening statement.

Tough negotiator

On Monday, Mr Bolton said the UN needed US leadership to get it back on track, and should focus more on human rights violations and international terrorism.

He outlined his four priorities if he was given the job:

* Strengthening UN institutions

* Stemming the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction

* Supporting the global war on terror

* Addressing humanitarian crises

Mr Bolton is one of the toughest campaigners in the Bush administration for a foreign policy based on US power and catering to narrowly defined US interests, correspondents say.

He is a staunch defender of the US-led military occupation of Iraq, and as Washington's top arms control negotiator has taken a hard line over North Korea's nuclear programme.

Supporters say he is intellectually capable and achieves results.

Intelligence nominee

In a separate nomination hearing, Mr Bush's choice for new Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte, has said his priority would be to make fundamental reforms to the US intelligence community.

He said he had built on the lessons learned about the shortcomings of the intelligence system both before and after the attacks on 11 September.

"Good intelligence is our first line of defence. It is difficult and often dangerous to produce... but it is the best way for us to ensure that freedom, democracy and our national security are protected in the 21st Century," he said.

Mr Negroponte, 65, a veteran diplomat, faced tough questioning by the Senate Intelligence Committee about his time as ambassador to Honduras, where human rights groups allege that he was aware of abuses by death squads.

He said he had done nothing improper and nothing which broke the laws applicable at the time.

He argued he had met the president of Honduras to urge him to improve the way justice was administered.

"I've a good conscience," Mr Negroponte insisted.

Some members of the committee expressed concern that he might not be the man to tell President Bush what he did not want to hear about intelligence failures.

But Mr Negroponte maintained that information gathered on his watch would not be shaded or changed for political ends.

The new post of national intelligence director was created on the recommendation of the commission that investigated the 11 September 2001 attacks.