Freeman out

Alexander Bolton has the story:
Charles Freeman, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair's choice to head the National Intelligence Council, has withdrawn from consideration for the post in the face of strong opposition from Senate Republicans.

Freeman is the latest in a string of Obama administration appointees and nominees to withdraw in the past few months.

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) told The Hill that Freeman has withdrawn his nomination and that Blair agreed to accept the decision.

Freeman had been scheduled to appear before the Senate intelligence panel on Thursday to answer senators questions.

Earlier on Tuesday Feinstein told The HIll she was keeping an open mind on Freeman's appointment.

"I've talked to director Blair about it. Director Blair feels this is not a policy job, that he's well qualified for what he wants him to do," Feinstein said. "I feel presidents should have their choice if possible of appointments. I've read Mr. Freeman characterized in a number of different of ways. We'd like an opportunity to talk with him and get our own fix on these views. How strongly their held, whether in fact there is bias."

Feinstein said she did not have any concerns over Freeman as of lunchtime Tuesday but that she might change her mind depending on his answers before the intelligence panel.

Republicans, however, were staunchly opposed to Freeman's nomination.

Sen. Kit Bond (Mo.), the Republican vice chairman of the intelligence committee, and six other Republicans on the panel wrote Blair a letter dated Monday expressing their concern over the possible appointment of Freeman.

"He has no intelligence experience," Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), a member of the committee said Tuesday afternoon.

The Senate did not have formal power to reject Freeman because he was an appointee, not a nominee subject to Senate confirmation. In the end, however, Senate Republicans' concerns set in motion a series of events that led to Freeman to withdraw his name for consideration.