Thursday, April 14, 2005

Mr. Smith Went to Washington, but Should Have Been Fired

From today's WSJ:
It was stated repeatedly at the hearings that Mr. Bolton and I [Otto Reich] tried to get an intelligence analyst--referred to as "Mr. Smith"--fired, or tried to block his promotion or to get him transferred. I cannot speak for Mr. Bolton (though having known him since 1981, I can attest to his integrity). But I can speak for myself: In 2002, after consulting with many of my interagency colleagues about how to handle the loss of confidence in Smith's judgment, I most certainly did complain to Smith's supervisor about the consistently unacceptable quality of his work. My actions are now being distorted and attributed to Mr. Bolton in order to harm his nomination.

Though my office is a 15-minute cab-ride from the Capitol, and I'd made myself available to offer testimony, I was never summoned. Yet several anti-Bolton former and present officials were asked to testify, in private and in public. Why were some witnesses called but not others? The reason is clear to anyone who has been nominated by a president to a Senate-confirmable position, especially before the Foreign Relations and the Judiciary Committees.

Too often those hearings are used by senators and their staff to pursue an ideological agenda and engage in personal destruction. If they cannot force a nominee to withdraw, hearings can be blocked by only one senator, while he and his staff spread scurrilous rumors about the nominee--who is unable to counter because he is told that "it will hurt your chances" if a hearing ever takes place.

The rest here, free online subscription required.

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