Saturday, July 30, 2005

Bolton Not Truthful, 36 Senators Charge in Opposing Appointment

The New York Times

Bolton Not Truthful, 36 Senators Charge in Opposing Appointment

WASHINGTON, July 29 - Charging that John R. Bolton was "not truthful" in answering questions about his record, 36 senators urged President Bush on Friday not to make a recess appointment of Mr. Bolton as United Nations ambassador after the Senate's failure to confirm him for that job.

But one Republican official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the president has not announced his decision, said Mr. Bush would probably appoint Mr. Bolton next week.

In a letter to Mr. Bush, the senators cited the disclosure on Thursday that Mr. Bolton had been interviewed by the State Department's inspector general in an investigation of intelligence failures related to Iraq, even though he told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in March that he had not been involved in any such inquiry.

Mr. Bolton "did not recall this interview" when he assured the committee that he had not been questioned by any investigators, according to a letter sent Friday from the State Department to Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., the ranking Democrat on the foreign relations panel.

The letter from the senators, all Democrats except for the Senate's sole independent, who usually votes with them, was the latest escalation of the battle over Mr. Bolton.

He has run into heavy opposition in the Senate because of his history of criticizing the United Nations and over charges that he tried to influence intelligence assessments to conform with his own views.

Mr. Bolton's nomination has the support of the majority of senators, but fewer than the 60 needed to head off a filibuster that Democrats say they would mount until specific questions about Mr. Bolton's activities were answered, particularly his use of classified intelligence about conversations involving administration colleagues.

The State Department has admitted that, as Mr. Biden charged, Mr. Bolton had been interviewed in a previous inquiry into one particular intelligence failure on Iraq, the finding that Iraq had tried to buy raw uranium from Niger for a nuclear arms program. That finding turned out to be based on forged documents.

Administration officials appeared shaken by the disclosure, and some worried openly that it might hurt Mr. Bolton's chances of a recess appointment, a tactic that a president is permitted use once Congress is in recess in August. The appointment would expire at the end of next year, however.

In a final gesture of opposition, Democratic senators indicated that they would use a parliamentary maneuver to formally send Mr. Bolton's name back to the White House once the Senate adjourns, rather than have it remain pending at the Senate.

That move was seen as symbolic, but one reflecting the growing bitterness of Democrats and their hopes that by standing firm they would make it more politically awkward for Mr. Bush to give Mr. Bolton the interim appointment.

Republicans, on the other hand, said Mr. Bush would likely go ahead and make the appointment as early as next week.