Aug. 9 (Bloomberg) -- President George W. Bush today named Eric S. Edelman undersecretary of defense for policy, using his power to make temporary appointments while Congress is in recess to overcome potential Democrat opposition to the nomination.
Edelman replaces Douglas Feith in the No. 3 position at the Pentagon. Feith helped plan the war in Iraq and the postwar occupation, and those roles made him the target of criticism from opponents of the March 2003 invasion.
Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee led by Carl Levin of Michigan, their ranking member, stalled Edelman's nomination to force the release of documents related to a specialized intelligence unit Feith set up before the conflict. Levin said the unit produced assessments alleging still unproven links of Iraq to terrorist groups to justify the invasion.
The committee sent Edelman's nomination to the full Senate July 29. Republican John Warner of Virginia, the panel chairman, was unable to organize a floor vote and asked Bush Aug. 1 to make Edelman a recess appointment, said Warner spokesman John Ullyot.
Bush's appointment puts Edelman in the job until January 2007, when a new Congress convenes. A recess appointment, one of the executive powers in the Constitution, is typically used when a president believes a nominee can't get a fair hearing or a vote in the Senate.
Edelman is the second recess appointment Bush made since Congress left for its summer recess. Bush on Aug. 1 named John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations after a floor vote was stalled by Democrats.
Edelman is a career foreign service officer who served most recently as U.S. ambassador to Turkey. He was Vice President Dick Cheney's deputy national security officer from Feb. 2001 to June 2003 and ambassador to Finland for three years prior to that, according to the State Department. Edelman was an aide to Cheney when Cheney was secretary of defense under President George H. W. Bush.
Edelman received his bachelor's degree from Cornell University in 1972 and a doctorate in diplomatic history from Yale University in 1981. He was born in Baltimore and raised in New York and now lives in Virginia with his and four children, according to congressional testimony.