Clinton nominee for defence chief makes hasty exit: Inman's sudden withdrawal because of 'hostile press' deals damaging blow to the President

IN A blow to the Clinton administration, Admiral Bobby Ray Inman withdrew his nomination as Defense Secretary yesterday, citing hostile press notices which distorted 'my record, my character and my reputation'. He said he was the victim of modern McCarthyism, the target of unproven allegations too numerous to refute.

Admiral Inman, a former intelligence chief, was to replace Les Aspin in charge of the Pentagon at the end of the month. By stepping aside at the last minute for reasons that appear superficial, he has badly damaged President Bill Clinton, who has taken great pains to ensure a smooth transition at Defense.

Explaining his last-minute withdrawal - which astonished Washington - Admiral In man said he made the decision after reading a critical column by the New York Times commentator William Safire, whom he accused of being in league with the Senate Republican leader, Robert Dole. He said Mr Dole had agreed to attack the admiral in return for Mr Safire criticising President Clinton over his involvement in the Whitewater land development affair.

At a news conference in Austin, Texas, Admiral Inman revealed a sensitivity to press criticism, though he admitted that most commentators were favourable and he faced no difficulty in being confirmed by the Senate. In a letter to Mr Clinton he said: 'I sensed elements in the media and the political leadership of the country who would rather disparage or destroy reputations than work to . . . govern the country.'

Senator Dole expressed astonishment at Admiral Inman's accusations and denied he opposed the nomination. He said he doubted if Admiral Inman, who had spent 30 years as head, successively, of all the main intelligence organisations, really wanted the job. Given the generally favourable reception Admiral Inman's no mination received in the press and Congress, his withdrawal will prompt speculation that he feared more revelations about his undistinguished business career in the 10 years since he resigned as deputy head of the CIA in 1982.

Admiral Inman originally wrote his letter of resignation on 8 January, but said he did not tell Mr Clinton immediately because the President's mother had just died. He then delayed again because Mr Clinton was on a tour of Europe, only returning at the weekend. There is no obvious replacement, and Mr Aspin says he will stay on as long as necessary.

At his hurriedly arranged press conference, Admiral Inman gave an exceptionally detailed account of his press notices since he was nominated on 16 December. At the time the stress he placed on reaching the right 'level of comfort' with the President before accepting the job was considered patronising. He said that the media were favourable to his appointment at first. Then matters deteriorated as journalists inquired about his business affairs and his failure to pay social security taxes on his housekeeper.

Reflecting on this criticism, Admiral Inman said: 'I don't wish or intend to subject myself to that on a daily basis.' He said he feared he was losing the congressional support necessary for reform of the Pentagon. He said that although he retained the support of Mr Clinton 'I'm not a long-time friend of the President.' Indeed, loyalty to Mr Clinton does not seem to have weighed heavily in Admiral Inman's mind as he decided to withdraw.

Instead, he returned again and again to Mr Safire's hostility and how this dated back to a dispute in the early 1980s. He described the intimacy of his relations with many editors when he was at the CIA and when he headed the NSA, the code-breaking and signals intelligence organisation based at Fort Mead in Maryland. Mr Clinton's decision to appoint the Admiral to head the Pentagon was partly based on his sensitivity to the press. Nobody realised until yesterday that this sensitivity was rooted in such a vulnerable personality.

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind-the-scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
News
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# Algo-Developer (BDD/TDD, ASP.NET, JavaScript, RX)

£45000 - £69999 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Algo-Develo...

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, Apache Mahout, Python,R,AI)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Data Scientist (SQL,Data mining, data modelling, PHD, AI)

£50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...

Java Developer - 1 year contract

£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone