Bolton named as US ambassador to UN

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The Independent US

George Bush, frustrated by Democrats, will circumvent the Senate and install embattled nominee John Bolton to be ambassador to the United Nations, a senior administration official said.

The president has the power to fill vacancies without Senate approval while Congress is in recess. Under the Constitution, a recess appointment during the politicians' August break would last until the next session of Congress, which begins in January 2007.

In advance of the announcement, Democrats said Bolton would start his new job on the wrong foot in a recess appointment.

"He's damaged goods. This is a person who lacks credibility," said Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, a senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The president, he said, should think again before using a recess appointment to place Bolton at the United Nations while the Senate is on its traditional August break.

But Republicans appearing on Sunday's news shows said Bolton was the man the White House wanted and he was the right person to represent the US at the world body.

Bolton's appointment ends a five-month impasse between the administration and Senate Democrats.

The battle grabbed headlines last spring amid accusations that Bolton abused subordinates and twisted intelligence to shape his conservative ideology, and as White House and Republican leadership efforts to ram the nomination through the Senate fell short.

In recent weeks, it faded into the background as the Senate prepared to begin a nomination battle over John Roberts, the federal appeals judge that Bush chose to replace the retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor at the Supreme Court.

At Bolton's April confirmation hearing, Democrats raised additional questions about his demeanour and attitude toward lower-level government officials. Those questions came to dominate Bolton's confirmation battle, growing into numerous allegations that he had abused underlings or tried to browbeat intelligence analysts whose views differed from his own.

Despite lengthy investigations, it was never clear that Bolton did anything improper. Witnesses told the committee that Bolton lost his temper, tried to engineer the ouster of at least two intelligence analysts and otherwise threw his weight around. But Democrats were never able to establish that his actions crossed the line to out-and-out harassment or improper intimidation.

Separately, Democrats and the White House deadlocked over Bolton's acknowledged request for names of US officials whose communications were secretly picked up by the National Security Agency. Democrats said the material might show that Bolton conducted a witch hunt for analysts or others who disagreed with him.

The top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee received a limited briefing on the contents of the messages Bolton saw, but were not told the names.

Democrats said that was not good enough, but later offered a compromise. After much back and forth, with the White House claiming Democrats had moved the goal posts, no other senator saw any of the material.