Nominee for Pentagon post withdraws

January 10, 1994|By New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON -- Morton H. Halperin, President Clinton's embattled choice to head a new Pentagon position for peacekeeping policy, has withdrawn his name for the job, administration officials said yesterday.

The nomination of Mr. Halperin, a 55-year-old former director of the Washington office of the American Civil Liberties Union, stirred a degree of passions unusual for a mid-level position, as conservatives attacked his liberal positions. Mr. Halperin had reversed his initial support of the Vietnam War, fought with the Nixon administration during the Watergate scandals and criticized many U.S. spying operations abroad.

But Mr. Halperin's chances to be assistant secretary of defense for democracy and peacekeeping fell victim not only to resistance on the Senate Armed Services Committee last November but also to the reshaping of the president's much-criticized foreign policy team.

The nomination also promised to complicate the Senate confirmation hearings this month of Bobby Ray Inman, Mr. Clinton's choice to succeed Defense Secretary Les Aspin, who has resigned effective Jan. 20.

Republicans on the Senate committee had told senior Pentagon aides that they intended to grill Mr. Inman about Mr. Halperin, possibly jeopardizing the retired admiral's own chances for Senate approval.

Mr. Halperin's nomination formally expired in November, when the Senate did not act on it before adjourning. At the time, the White House said it would resubmit his nomination. Then in December, Mr. Aspin, Mr. Halperin's biggest supporter in the administration, announced his resignation.

Mr. Inman has praised Mr. Halperin personally but has also raised serious doubts about whether the job he was to hold is necessary.

Administration officials said yesterday that they were still considering another job for Mr. Halperin, but probably one that would not require Senate confirmation. One post that has been mentioned is that of head of the State Department's policy-planning bureau. In the meantime, Mr. Halperin will continue working as a Pentagon consultant, they said.

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