Homeland Security Nominee Withdraws Amid Questions About Torture

President Obama's nominee to be U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis withdrew his name from consideration Friday after it became clear lawmakers would question his involvement in interrogation and detainee policies under President George W. Bush.

Philip Mudd, currently a top official at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said he was bowing out because he knew "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."

Democrats on Capitol Hill had signaled their intention to probe Mudd's knowledge of and role in approving brutal interrogation techniques -- some of which qualify under international law as torture -- used by CIA officials against detainees.

From 2003 through 2005, Mudd was Deputy Director of the Director of Central Intelligence National Counterterrorism Center. He joined the agency in 1985.

Mudd is the second potential Obama administration official to opt out of what was looking to be a grueling confirmatiom process because of ties to Bush-era interrogation policies. President Obama was considering the nomination of intelligence official John Brennan as CIA director when, in November, Brennan withdrew his name from consideration after liberal commentators assailed him as a defender of the Bush administration's counterterrorism programs. Brennan serves as the White House homeland security czar, a position not needing Senate confirmation.

“The President believes that Phil Mudd would have been an excellent Undersecretary for Intelligence and Analysis but understands his personal decision and the choice he has made," said White House spokesman Nick Shapiro in a statement: "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.”

The Office of Intelligence and Analysis continues to be led by Bart Johnson, President Obama's nominee to serve as the DHS Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis

- jpt

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