Damage control at State

Condi shows solidarity with John Bolton in more ways than one.

Published April 20, 2005 5:58PM (EDT)

By now it's fairly clear that over the years John Bolton has left a number of disillusioned civil servants in his wake. Recent tales of his style of diplomacy at the home office were enough to rattle Ohio Republican George Voinovich -- and apparently the new boss at Foggy Bottom is a bit rattled, too.

While continuing to back Bolton for U.N. ambassador, a concerned Condoleezza Rice is also showing some solidarity in terms of style: She's called for staffers to keep any dissenting views to themselves. The Washington Post reports:

"[Senate] Committee staff members said they have been inundated with allegations about Bolton since former State Department intelligence chief Carl W. Ford Jr., called Bolton a 'serial abuser' in testimony last week. 'Ford's testimony broke the dam,' one Democratic staffer said.

"On Monday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told her senior staff she was disappointed about the stream of allegations and said she did not want any information coming out of the department that could adversely affect the nomination, said officials speaking on the condition of anonymity.

"The committee released 25 pages of responses yesterday to follow-up questions Bolton had been asked concerning allegations he was abusive to other officials in and out of the State Department, overreached on policy issues and mishandled intelligence. In several instances, Bolton did not directly respond to the questions or left them unaddressed."

Appearances may not be everything, but at this point, assuming it's not already too late, Bolton might well benefit from adopting a slightly more respectable style.

By Mark Follman

Mark Follman is Salon's deputy news editor. Read his other articles here.

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