Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has been in the news for placing a hold on Richard Holbrooke's nomination for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations because of the treatment a U.N. employee, Linda Shenwick, received as a result of her providing accurate information to Congress about corruption, mismanagement and waste in the world body ["Holbrooke Nomination Clears Hurdle," news story, Aug. 5]. Sen. Grassley acted correctly and used about the only resource available to a senator to get fair treatment for an employee whom I would classify as a "whistle-blower" in the most positive sense.

When I was in the Senate, I twice was a congressional representative to the General Assembly of the United Nations. Linda Shenwick, a U.N. staffer, was assigned to assist me -- and she had all the numbers on corruption in the United Nations.

Ms. Shenwick supplied me with reports on a number of almost unbelievable abuses going on in the U.N. bureaucracy. I am a supporter of the United Nations, but I began to make speeches on the Senate floor with some of this information, and I understand that Ms. Shenwick came under attack from her superiors for giving me some of these numbers -- although she probably was caught in a quandary, because I was officially a member of the U.N. staff.

Ms. Shenwick gave me statistical data that other senators and I used to illustrate that the original share of the U.S. contribution to the United Nations was 26 percent. However, if it had been readjusted as agreed, (Europe, the Middle East and Japan became more prosperous), our share today should be about 13 percent. The way the U.N. bureaucrats shuffle the numbers, we pay about 35 percent to 40 percent of real costs of the United Nations today. That fact -- plus the waste, fraud and inefficiency -- caused Sen. Nancy Kassebaum to lead an effort to delay some of the payments until that formula could be readjusted. I understand that Ms. Shenwick was disciplined for giving me that information.

It is my hope that Sen. Grassley's courageous action will cause Ambassador Holbrooke to be more sensitive to this issue. Sen. Grassley and Linda Shenwick should be lauded for helping the United Nations improve itself. As a result of their efforts, several TV news magazines and The Post have spotlighted the flagrant graft, corruption and waste that occur.

LARRY PRESSLER

Washington

The writer, a Republican, was a U.S. senator representing South Dakota from 1979 to 1997. In 1992-1993, he was the congressional representative to the United Nations General Assembly.