March 10th, 2009
06:17 PM ET
14 years ago

Freeman withdraws nomination as intel chief

(CNN) - Charles Freeman, the Obama administration's choice for National Intelligence Council chief, has withdrawn following controversy over his nomination.

The former Pentagon official and diplomat had faced criticism from both Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee over his lack of intelligence experience, and some prior headline-grabbing remarks, particularly with regard to Israel. He also drew controversy over a statement that he believed the Chinese government did not crack down quickly enough on pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananment Square in 1989.

Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair defended Freeman today on Capitol Hill, telling Sen. Joe Lieberman at a Senate hearing that Freeman's comments had been taken out of context. He also said he felt he would do a better job if he were "getting strong analytical viewpoints" like Freeman's to "sort out and pass on" to Congress and the president.

Filed under: Obama administration
soundoff (127 Responses)
  1. Matthew, Detroit

    Chicago is diry political arena.

    Baracks staff is just used to dirty politics and getting paid for everything.

    This is simply more of the same and makes his whole administration

    look like a joke. It dirties the entire office. They are all getting paid.

    Too bad. In 50 Days barak has made his white house the worst and

    the biggest joke of all. It is funny how many people were looking to

    get paid in the Clinton Administration but this one is even worse.

    March 10, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  2. Edward lawler

    In regards to comment #5, I agree that both sides must work at reaching an agreemnet and that includes the Hamas stop getting missles from Iran and lobbing them indiscrimnately into Isreal.

    March 10, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  3. Laverne

    Telling the truth in this country will make you an outcast and blackballed!

    March 10, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  4. Allan

    LOL look at the ignorant right-wing tools. They know nothing of Mr. Freeman or why his appointment is controversial but they're here to fling handsful of their poo at Obama.

    Mr. Freeman has been a sometimes outspoken critic of Israel's policies, which has engendered the wrath of Israel's staunchest defenders and apologists.

    Carry on with your impotent Obama bashing, don't let any facts get in your way.

    March 10, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  5. obama-mama

    What a big fat conspiracy......

    March 10, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  6. Tom

    To Jon and others...

    Actually, this had nothing to do with taxes.

    This had everything to do with the fact that Freeman was an "honest broker" and critic of some things past administrations and Israel had done.

    Freeman was a pragmatist, who saw things as they were... that on some issues Israel was wrong, and others, Palestine was wrong.

    He called it straight and shot straight... in the minds of his critics, that somehow made him "anti-Israel" and unacceptable.

    In fact, lots of newsfolks, and Blair, are correctly pointing out that his supposed "criticisms" of Israel have been taken out of context.

    It's unfortunate that we now have a "neocon" litmus test... if you want to try and be equitable in your analysis, then that somehow makes you against what is acceptable.

    March 10, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  7. KFR

    I just read a blog that stated Obama's ratings at 60% and some person said "well it has dropped from 68% to the 60 in thirty days. All I have to say is you should have such good ratings in this mess. Repubs are the arsonists who burned down our national home and people now have the nerve to criticize and try to destroy the architect American (like it or not) hired to rebuild from the ashes.

    March 10, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  8. vinylrage

    the vetting process is incredibly complicated. before you all start screaming "taxes" or get involved in partisan squabbling - why not check out yesterdays program on the news hour (pbs). it might explain a few explain a few things. it doesn't matter if obama ahead in process than bush was at this same point or behind clinton –what matters is that process is becoming more weighed down as each year rolls on by.

    March 10, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  9. Matthew, Detroit


    Yes it is Baracks fault that people dont pay their taxes or they took

    money from lobbyist groups and then he names them for positions

    in the US goverment. Yes it is his vault that they did not do a

    background check. Yes it is his fault. He is the top peg. Everyone

    is pretty quick to agree to get rid of the CEO's of the big three, well

    this guy is the CEO of the US. He is responsible for everything that is

    going on and he must stop with the arrogance and do his job.

    March 10, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  10. aipac wins again

    Tax Cheat? No.
    Involved in some sort of bribery? No.
    Caught with a prostitute? No.

    Unfortunately for Mr Freeman he committed the biggest sin of all: vocally expressing a belief that we may need to re-examine how we deal with Israel and Palestine.

    March 10, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  11. Gene Hubbard

    If you voted for him you got exactly what you deserved.

    March 10, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  12. JA/TN

    nobody goes into the presidency with and abundance of presidential experience, at least he is looking for competent staff, the presidency is having the common good of all in mind when setting policy

    March 10, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  13. Anita

    I am quiet sure he has a good reason for withdrawing. He shouldn't let people bully him out of this position because the adminstration needed him to help move this country forward. There is no one perfect but Jesus Christ himself. President Obama will pick someone better. Don't give up President Obama. God will see you through! Obama/Biden 2012

    March 10, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  14. SA_Cornhusker

    Makes one wonder; of the nominees who actually made it into the cabinet – what are they hiding?

    March 10, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  15. Griff............... on The Truth...

    Intel? What does that mean? I have at my fingertips, inteligence.
    Plus 50yrs when you weren't there. To Know, is for the Knowing.
    Not for those still, playing catch-up...

    March 10, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  16. johnny the boy

    No way..... I guess Obama the Logo President isn't gonna walk on water the way the Kool-Aid drinkers had hoped.

    By the way Kool-Aid Gang, Gitmo's detainees, the ones you want to free, admitted that they are hard core terrorists "to the bone".

    March 10, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  17. mrindependent

    At least Obama is finding out the weaknesses of his nominees BEFORE their approved by congress. We didn't find out about the all the curroption in the Bush administration until after they had taken their position.

    Of course with a republican congress that would look the other way whenever Bush asked them to is probably why.

    Obama's vetting process is far more thorough than any president we've ever had. That is why we're seeing more people who have to withdraw.

    March 10, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  18. WisconsinEric

    So far only 3 out of the 23 comments here have the right reason, pretty typical for CNN comments. It wasn't Obama, it wasn't vetting, it wasn't missed taxes . . . it was his controversial view on Israel (Freeman has criticized Israeli foreign policy). As for the rest of the comments here, why not get some actual information before sounding off! (I know why, the facts might show that some deeply held beliefs are wrong).

    March 10, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  19. One Nation under God

    he puts people in postion to fail ARE YOU SERIOUS!!!!

    Who did BUSH put in charge of FEMA people lost their lives because of those two. so before are you right wing nuts start talking no one i repeat no one lost their lives from any pick by our current president.

    March 10, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  20. Matthew, Detroit

    Hillary would have been a better choice.

    This clown is an empty suit.

    I dont believe anything about his education or Super Smart Status.

    This brings up a lot of questions about how smart he really is. Maybe
    he was pushed through the system a little. He is clearly over his head
    and under qualified for the job. He never really ran anything. (michelle
    ran the household). He was a community organizer. PERIOD.

    He voted Present in the Illinois Senate 128 times.
    He was running for office the entire time in the US Senate.
    He is a great cheerleader but he really has proven nothing.
    He only can talk when he has his teleprompter and index cards.

    He cant think on his feet.
    He built a lousy staff that fails him continually.

    March 10, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  21. Ron Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

    This is putting a blackeye on the Obama presidency.Someone needs to be fired before it gets to out of hand by the media.Obama needs to stop listening to the ones that are telling him who to pick without being properly vetted.Wrong for America and wrong pick again.Lets get it right people now.We dont have time to waste on the wrong guy

    March 10, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  22. psbro

    I love the way the kool-aid crowd just can't bring themselves to hold Obama accountable for anything. Folks, the buck stops with Obama,stop breastfeeding this guy. Poor baby why are all these people not doing their jobs? Why are all these people doing this to him?
    You are pathetic, the "these people" are people he SELECTED, they weren't forced on him. Yep he's ready to lead from day one alright, he can't even get thru the staffing part right.

    BTW Did you know Gordon Brown is legally blind? Yep that's right your chosen one gave a man legally blind a set of DVDs, I swear you can't make this stuff up.

    March 10, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  23. Jim

    Will Clemens: The little o came out of the Chicago political machine. How do you expect him to know anyone that is not tainted, including himself. The biggest problem is he was shielded by the media and the Good Lord only knows who else.

    March 10, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  24. Illinidiva

    It wasn't just his views on Israel that got him bounced. The guy also managed to get on the wrong side of Tienamman Square. Anyone who expresses admirations for the Chinese in that situation or stands against peaceful demonstrators deserves to get bounced.

    March 10, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  25. Vickie

    They are concerned about Charles Freeman having no experience to run the CIA but yet the American people voted Obama for president who had no experience. I can't figure that one out. You need experience to run the CIA but not the country. Interesting

    March 10, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
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