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Bolton not truthful, say Senators

Steven R. Weisman

Bush advised against recess appointment to the United Nations post

WASHINGTON: Charging that John R. Bolton was ``not truthful'' in answering questions about his record, 36 Senators have urged U.S. President George Bush not to make a recess appointment of Mr. Bolton as U.N. Ambassador following the Senate's failure to confirm him for that job.

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, 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 investigator, according to a letter sent on Friday from the State Department to Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., the top Democrat on the foreign relations panel.

Heavy opposition

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, who has run into heavy opposition in the Senate because of his history of criticising the U.N. and over charges that he tried to influence intelligence assessments to conform with his own views. Mr. Bolton's nomination has the support of most Senators, but fewer than the 60 needed to head off a filibuster that Democrats say they would mount until specific questions about his activities were answered, particularly his use of classified intelligence about conversations involving administration colleagues.

In the past few days, Democrats have also sought to tie him to the unfolding investigation into who leaked the identity of a covert intelligence agent in order to discredit her husband, Joseph C. Wilson, who had charged that the administration had distorted intelligence to support its case for the war in Iraq in 2002 and 2003.

In response to two letters from Mr. Biden this week, the State Department said Mr. Bolton had neither appeared before a grand jury looking into the leak of the name of Mr. Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, nor had he been interviewed by any individual investigators.

But in the process, the State Department did admit 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 purchase raw uranium from Niger for a nuclear arms programme.

Administration officials appeared shaken by the disclosure, and some worried openly that it might hurt Bolton's chances of a recess appointment, a tactic that a President can adopt once Congress is in recess for August.

- New York Times News Service

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