intelligence pick bows out over CIA tactic ties
CIA denies it deceived Congress on interrogations AFP/Getty Images/File – The CIA symbol is shown on the floor of its headquarters in Langley, Virginia. The CIA director strongly …
By EILEEN SULLIVAN, Associated Press Writer Eileen Sullivan, Associated Press Writer – 2 hrs 33 mins ago
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama's pick for intelligence chief at the Homeland Security Department withdrew from consideration Friday amid questions about his role in the CIA's interrogations of suspected terrorists.
Philip Mudd was scheduled to appear next week before senators considering his nomination as undersecretary of intelligence and analysis. He notified the White House on Friday that he was withdrawing his name because he did not want to be a distraction.
At issue was the extent of Mudd's involvement in the interrogation program while he was a senior CIA official in the Bush administration. The interrogation methods have been criticized by Democratic lawmakers and Obama.
"I know that this position will require the full cooperation with Congress and I believe that if I continue to move forward I will become a distraction to the president and his vital agenda," Mudd said in a statement.
On Thursday, Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Mudd's ties to the program would be investigated.
As deputy director of the Office of Terrorism Analysis at the CIA, Mudd had direct knowledge of the agency's harsh interrogation program, according to a congressional aide, who was not authorized to disclose the information and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The Democratic-run Senate would have had to decide whether indirect involvement or knowledge of the interrogation program was enough to disqualify someone praised by current and former intelligence officials.
In November, Obama's selection of John Brennan to become CIA director was derailed after criticism from liberal bloggers that associated him with the Bush administration's interrogation, detention and rendition programs.
Brennan now is the White House-based homeland security adviser, which did not require Senate confirmation.
A White House spokesman said Mudd had Obama's full support, but that the president understood Mudd's decision.
"It is with sadness and regret that the president accepted Phil's withdrawal from consideration as Phil once again demonstrated his duty to country above all things," White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said.
Charlie Allen, the former top intelligence official at the Homeland Security Department and longtime senior official at the CIA, said he regretted Mudd's decision.
"The men and women of the CIA work tirelessly and courageously to keep the country safe," Allen said. "Phil epitomizes the very best of these officers and his withdrawal is the country's loss."
Michigan's Pete Hoekstra, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said Mudd is paying an unfair political price for what he did to keep the country safe after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
"A chill wind is blowing through the intelligence community as operatives and analysts are now being forced to consider shifting political sands along with the national security decisions they make," Hoekstra said.