Ex-Diplomat Calls U.N. Nominee ‘Unworthy’

Times Staff Writer

Another former high-ranking State Department official has urged senators not to approve John R. Bolton as United Nations ambas- sador, saying Bolton has “no diplomatic bone in his body” and is “unworthy of your trust.”

Frederick Vreeland, a former U.S. ambassador to Burma and Morocco appointed by President George H.W. Bush, joined a growing chorus of ex-officials taking sides on Bolton.

“If it is now U.S. policy not to reform the U.N. but to destroy it, Bolton is our man,” Vreeland wrote in a letter to Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The letter was released by Biden’s office.


The committee has delayed until May 12 a vote on Bolton’s appointment while it investigates allegations that Bolton bullied intelligence analysts who disagreed with him and that he may have been less than candid in testimony to the committee.

At least three Republican members of the committee are wavering despite White House lobbying for Bolton, who has served as undersecretary of State for arms control and international security since 2001.

Republican and Democratic committee staffers met late Monday and agreed to jointly interview about two dozen witnesses about incidents for which Bolton has come under fire, a Democratic staffer said.

Vreeland said that as the deputy assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs in 1991, he had to deal with Bolton, who then was in charge of a State Department bureau that handled U.N. issues.

“It was the only unpleasant part of my assignment -- and it was very unpleasant,” Vreeland wrote. “He dealt with visitors to his office as if they were servants with whom he could be dismissive, curt and negative. He was well known for never being good-tempered or even well mannered.”

Now retired and living in Rome, Vreeland could not be reached for comment Monday. Bolton is barred by protocol from answering such charges in the press. Vreeland’s complaints to the committee were first reported this week by Time magazine.

State Department Deputy Spokesman Adam Ereli dismissed Vreeland’s charges.

“The personal recollections of a retired ambassador notwithstanding, John Bolton has a distinguished record of diplomatic service on behalf of the United States, a fact to which five former secretaries of State and three former secretaries of Defense have publicly attested,” Ereli said.

He was referring to a letter supporting Bolton signed by former Secretaries of State George P. Shultz, James A. Baker III, Lawrence S. Eagleburger, Alexander M. Haig Jr. and Henry A. Kissinger and former Defense Secretaries Frank C. Carlucci, James R. Schlesinger and Caspar W. Weinberger. President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also have defended Bolton.

Another State Department official said Vreeland was part of Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change, a bipartisan group of ambassadors and four-star military officers who opposed Bush in the 2004 campaign. Vreeland is listed on the group’s website as a signatory.

“Even though he was Republican under Bush I, he’s been critical of our policy,” the official said. “He’s got an ax to grind.”

Other Republican officials who served with Bolton and have come out against him include Carl W. Ford Jr., the State Department’s former intelligence chief, and Larry Wilkerson, who was chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.

Vreeland wrote that Bolton “spoke of the U.N. as being the enemy, so that those in the department who had to deal with him wondered why he had precisely that job.”

Vreeland, a career CIA and State Department official, said he served at the U.S. mission to the U.N. under five ambassadors, Democratic and Republican, from 1967 to 1971.

“They knew how to listen, something essential for the U.N. job which I found totally lacking in my dealings with Bolton,” Vreeland wrote. “Bolton has none of the qualities needed for that job.”