Friday 15 April 2005
Melody Townsel was stationed in Kyrgyzstan on a US AID project.
During her stay there, she became embroiled in a controversy in which John Bolton
was a key player. She described the incident in a letter to the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee members who are reviewing the Bolton nomination.
Here's the entire text of her letter:
I'm writing to urge you to consider blocking in committee the nomination of
John Bolton as ambassador to the UN.
In the late summer of 1994, I worked as the subcontracted leader of a US AID
project in Kyrgyzstan officially awarded to a HUB primary contractor. My own
employer was Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly, and I reported directly to
Republican leader Charlie Black.
After months of incompetence, poor contract performance, inadequate in-country
funding, and a general lack of interest or support in our work from the prime
contractor, I was forced to make US AID officials aware of the prime contractor's
I flew from Kyrgyzstan to Moscow to meet with other Black Manafort employees
who were leading or subcontracted to other US AID projects. While there, I met
with US AID officials and expressed my concerns about the project - chief among
them, the prime contractor's inability to keep enough cash in country to allow
us to pay bills, which directly resulted in armed threats by Kyrgyz contractors
to me and my staff.
Within hours of sending a letter to US AID officials outlining my concerns,
I met John Bolton, whom the prime contractor hired as legal counsel to represent
them to US AID. And, so, within hours of dispatching that letter, my hell began.
Mr. Bolton proceeded to chase me through the halls of a Russian hotel - throwing
things at me, shoving threatening letters under my door and, generally, behaving
like a madman. For nearly two weeks, while I awaited fresh direction from my
company and from US AID, John Bolton hounded me in such an appalling way that
I eventually retreated to my hotel room and stayed there. Mr. Bolton, of course,
then routinely visited me there to pound on the door and shout threats.
When US AID asked me to return to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in advance of assuming
leadership of a project in Kazakstan, I returned to my project to find that
John Bolton had proceeded me by two days. Why? To meet with every other AID
team leader as well as US foreign-service officials in Bishkek, claiming that
I was under investigation for misuse of funds and likely was facing jail time.
As US AID can confirm, nothing was further from the truth.
He indicated to key employees of or contractors to State that, based on his
discussions with investigatory officials, I was headed for federal prison and,
if they refused to cooperate with either him or the prime contractor's replacement
team leader, they, too, would find themselves the subjects of federal investigation.
As a further aside, he made unconscionable comments about my weight, my wardrobe
and, with a couple of team leaders, my sexuality, hinting that I was a lesbian
(for the record, I'm not).
When I resurfaced in Kyrgyzstan, I learned that he had done such a convincing
job of smearing me that it took me weeks - with the direct intervention of US
AID officials - to limit the damage. In fact, it was only US AID's appoinment
of me as a project leader in Almaty, Kazakstan that largely put paid to the
rumors Mr. Bolton maliciously circulated.
As a maligned whistleblower, I've learned firsthand the lengths Mr. Bolton
will go to accomplish any goal he sets for himself. Truth flew out the window.
Decency flew out the window. In his bid to smear me and promote the interests
of his client, he went straight for the low road and stayed there.
John Bolton put me through hell - and he did everything he could to intimidate,
malign and threaten not just me, but anybody unwilling to go along with his
version of events. His behavior back in 1994 wasn't just unforgivable, it was
I cannot believe that this is a man being seriously considered for any diplomatic
position, let alone such a critical posting to the UN. Others you may call before
your committee will be able to speak better to his stated dislike for and objection
to stated UN goals. I write you to speak about the very character of the man.
It took me years to get over Mr. Bolton's actions in that Moscow hotel in
1994, his intensely personal attacks and his shocking attempts to malign my
I urge you from the bottom of my heart to use your ability to block Mr. Bolton's
nomination in committee.