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SLUG: 2-324858 Congress-Bolton (L-only)

DATE=May 25, 2005








HEADLINE: Senate Opens Debate on Bolton UN Nomination

INTRO: The U.S. Senate has begun debate on the controversial nomination of John Bolton to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Senate Democrats are signaling they may block the nomination from coming to a scheduled vote Thursday. VOA's Deborah Tate reports from Capitol Hill.

TEXT: Democrats say they remain troubled by allegations that Mr. Bolton mistreated subordinates and pressured analysts to reach certain conclusions on policy and intelligence matters.

Senator Joe Biden is the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:


"He is no diplomat, as is evidenced by his contempt for opposing views, and his inability or unwillingness to listen. His credibility is in grave doubt as is evidenced by his repeated efforts to distort facts to fit preformed views. He is an ideologue, a bright ideologue, but nonethess an ideologue, as evidenced by both his long record in and out of government."

/// END ACT ///

Mr. Biden and his fellow Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut, made a last minute request to the administration to turn over classified documents about Mr. Bolton, who currently serves as undersecretary of state for arms control and international security.

Mr. Dodd signaled he would consider blocking the nomination if the documents are not forthcoming.

At issue are Mr. Bolton's acknowledged requests for names of fellow government officials whose communications were secretly recorded. Democrats want to know why he sought the information.

The Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, has reviewed the material and concludes Mr. Bolton did nothing wrong.

One key Republican shares Democrats' concerns about Mr. Bolton. Senator George Voinovich of Ohio, who was instrumental in delaying the Foreign Relations Committee's vote to send the nomination to the full Senate last month, sent a letter to Senate colleagues saying approving the nominee would hurt U.S. efforts to mend ties with allies frayed over the war on Iraq and other matters.


"We are considering a nominee for ambassador to the United Nations who has been accused of being arrogant, of not listening to his friends, of acting unilaterally, and of bullying those who do not have ability to properly defend themselves. These are the very characteristics that we are trying to dispel in the court of world opinion.'

/// END ACT ///

But the committee's Republican chairman, Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, says the allegations against Mr. Bolton are overstated or unsubstantiated.

Senator Lugar said Mr. Bolton is well-qualified to be UN ambassador and has the trust of President Bush to reform the United Nations:


"We should recognize Secretary Bolton has the confidence of the President of the United States and the Secretary of State. The President has made it clear that this is not a casual appointment. He wants a specific person to do a specific job."

/// END ACT ///

At the White House, spokesman Scott McClellan said President Bush is confident Mr. Bolton will be confirmed.

/// REST OPT ///

Meanwhile, another one of Mr. Bush's embattled nominees was confirmed by the Senate Wednesday.

Justice Priscilla Owen was confirmed on a 56 to 43 vote to the federal appeals court, four years after she was first nominated.

Her nomination had been blocked, or filibustered, by minority Democrats, who argued she was so conservative as to be out of the political mainstream.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee:


"Today does mark the triumph of principle over politics, of results over rhetoric. For far too long for judicial nominees the filibuster was used to facilitate partisanship and to subvert principle."

/// END ACT ///

A deal between Republicans and Democrats to allow votes on some of Mr. Bush's judicial nominees cleared the way for Justice Owen's confirmation. (signed)


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