John Bolton orchestrated the illegal firing of Jose Bustani, the head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), an international arms control agency. AP reports:
A former Bolton deputy says the U.S. undersecretary of state felt Jose Bustani “had to go,” particularly because the Brazilian was trying to send chemical weapons inspectors to Baghdad. That might have helped defuse the crisis over alleged Iraqi weapons and undermined a U.S. rationale for war.
Bolton contacted Bustani directly, and demanded he resign. When that didn’t work, Bolton upped the ante. He called for an unprecedented special session of the OPCW conference and demanded Bustani’s ouster. Bolton threatened to withhold U.S. dues to the organization — which amounted to 22 percent of the total budget — if he didn’t get his way. Bolton’s strong arm tactics scored him a narrow victory:
Only 113 nations were represented the Americans, with British help, got the required two-thirds vote of those present and voting. But that amounted to only 48 in favor of removing Bustani — and seven opposed and 43 abstaining — in an organization then with 145 member states.
Bustani appealed the decision to a U.N tribunal. They didn’t look kindly on Bolton’s conduct:
In a stern rebuke issued in July 2003, the three-member U.N. tribunal said the U.S. allegations were “extremely vague” and the dismissal “unlawful.” It said international civil servants must not be made “vulnerable to pressures and to political change.”
Last week, President Bush said that Bolton has “the votes to get confirmed.” In truth, his nomination remains up in the air. According to Steve Clemons, there are 46 solid votes against Bolton. Ben Nelson (D-FL), John McCain (R-AZ) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) are toss-ups.
There are several moderate, open-minded Senators who are being counted as Bolton supporters. Information like this could very well change some minds and tip the balance.