A new statement from Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair’s office:
Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair announced today that Ambassador Charles W. Freeman Jr. has requested that his selection to be Chairman of the National Intelligence Council not proceed. Director Blair accepted Ambassador Freeman’s decision with regret.
Freeman’s appointment was met by strong right-wing outrage, provoking a “fierce behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign to torpedo the appointment.” The Wonk Room’s Matt Duss noted that Freeman voiced “some inconvenient truths about the Israel-Palestine conflict, and represent[ed] a challenge to the treasured neoconservative myth that US and Israeli interests are identical.” Today, Blair defended Freeman’s appointment under questioning from Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT).
Statement from Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY): “Charles Freeman was the wrong guy for this position. His statements against Israel were way over the top and severely out of step with the administration. I repeatedly urged the White House to reject him, and I am glad they did the right thing.”
,The Cable has a statement from Freeman on his withdrawal. An excerpt:
I have concluded that the barrage of libelous distortions of my record would not cease upon my entry into office. The effort to smear me and to destroy my credibility would instead continue. I do not believe the National Intelligence Council could function effectively while its chair was under constant attack by unscrupulous people with a passionate attachment to the views of a political faction in a foreign country. I agreed to chair the NIC to strengthen it and protect it against politicization, not to introduce it to efforts by a special interest group to assert control over it through a protracted political campaign.