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Mr. Watson is a Vietnam War veteran who earned a Bronze Star and commendation medals. His financial ties to the company did not surface during his Senate confirmation hearing last month, but he was questioned repeatedly about his work for the newspaper.

Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, said that while Mr. Watson worked as the newspaper company’s attorney, “the New York Times published two stories which revealed highly classified information” amid concerns that the disclosures would jeopardize national security.

One of the stories, published in 2005, won a Pulitzer Prize. It reported that President Bush had secretly authorized the National Security Agency to monitor phone calls and e-mail of Americans and others inside the U.S. for evidence of terrorist activity without court-approved warrants.

In a Senate floor statement, Mr. McCain said he wanted to know more about Mr. Watson’s role in running the stories. Mr. McCain said the White House had urged the newspaper not to publish the information, and former CIA Director Porter J. Goss later said of the disclosure: “The damage has been very severe to our capabilities to carry out our mission.”

Pressed by Mr. McCain, Mr. Watson said the publications of the stories “were consistent with the law at the time they were published.” He also said he was not the person responsible for reviewing the stories, which the newspaper has defended.

Ms. McNulty told a New York Times reporter covering Mr. Watson’s hearing last month that the stories were “important pieces of journalism, done responsibly and protected by the First Amendment.”

Still, Mr. Watson distanced himself from the decision to run the stories, telling Mr. McCain, “Senator, my opinion is that the decision to publish them was justified; were it my decision to make, I would not have made that decision.

“I do not, as a professional, abide people leaking classified information.”

Sen. Saxby Chambliss, Georgia Republican, said he was troubled that Mr. Watson wasn’t more involved in the decision on whether to publish the classified military information.

“It bothers me, as the top lawyer in that firm, so to speak, that you weren’t engaged and weren’t involved in the decision-making process on that and now you’re going to be in a position to be the top lawyer at the Army,” Mr. Chambliss told Mr. Watson.

Mr. Watson’s nomination was announced after the previous nominee, Donald Remy, faced questions from Republicans who were upset that he left off the name of troubled mortgage giant Fannie Mae on a work history statement he had submitted to the Senate.

Mr. Remy, who previously worked as Fannie Mae’s chief compliance officer, described his former employer as “a major U.S. company.” The name of the company was cited in other paperwork sent to the Senate, but Mr. Remy, who called the omission a mistake, eventually withdrew his nomination last year.