- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 11, 2009

UPDATED:

Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair announced Tuesday that his choice to head a key intelligence body has withdrawn from the post.

The terse two-sentence announcement that Charles “Chas” W. Freeman Jr. will not chair the National Intelligence Council, or NIC, followed mounting questions from members of Congress and others about the former ambassador’s financial ties to Saudi Arabia and China and his views about the Middle East and human rights.

Mr. Blair “announced today that Ambassador Charles W. Freeman Jr. has requested that his selection to be Chairman of the National Intelligence Council not proceed,” the statement said.

“Director Blair accepted Ambassador Freeman’s decision with regret.”



Although the post does not require Senate confirmation, Mr. Freeman had been meeting with members of Congress to try to assuage their concerns about his record and possible conflicts of interest. The inspector general of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, in response to congressional requests, had opened an investigation into whether Mr. Freeman’s former post as an adviser to the China National Offshore Oil Corp. and his leadership of the Middle East Policy Council, a Washington think tank, impinged on his ability to chair the NIC and supervise the preparation of sensitive assessments.

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