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Friday, March 6, 2009

Charles Freeman - Barack Obama owes America an explanation

Charles Freeman is now officially ensconced as the head of the U.S. National Intelligence Council, and will produce the National Intelligence Estimate. It's a done deal it seems. All USA intelligence (and a lot of stupidity) will flow through this one man and be edited by him. He will produce America's official picture of the Middle East and the world. 
Freeman's qualifications for the job include being President of an Arab lobby organization,  MEPC,  that accepted a million dollar donation from Saudi Arabia and published the full length version of "The Israel Lobby." Freeman is, or at was, also on the board of directors of another Middle East Lobby - The American Iranian Council. Freeman's views about Israel and its enemies can be summed up in this one quote:
"I'm a very practical man, and my concern is simply this: that there are movements, like Hamas, like Hezbollah, that in recent decades have not done anything against the United States or Americans, even though the United States supports their enemy, Israel. By openly stating and taking action to make them–to declare that we are their enemy, we invite them to extend their operations in the United States or against Americans abroad."
Just because the Hezbollah blew up a few marines in Lebanon is no reason to hold a grudge, right? And just because Hamas insists that it wants to wipe out every Jew on the planet, that's no reason to slight them either, correct? And the demonstrations with huge crowds chanting "Death to America" are no reason to hurt these wonderful Islamic gentleman either, are they? Freeman is obviously the perfect choice to vet US intelligence as Muslim Matters (source of the above quote) assures us. Anyone who is, perish the thought, nervous about the idea that a man who is virtually a self-declared agent of a foriegn power should hold a key US intelligence post is obviously a right wing Zionist neocon, according to Muslim Matters. But not just according to them. It is not only Muslim Matters that says so. M.J. Rosenberg agrees.  

It's a new day. For the first time in years, a President has rebuffed the neocon/rightwing lobby on an issue dear to their hearts. He informed the Senate that he will make Charles Freeman head of the National Intelligence Council despite the full-court press led by the neocons and the rightwing of the pro-Israel lobby against him.

...I was wrong about one thing. Steve Rosen was only the public face against the appointment. Quietly, behind closed doors (including doors in the White House), a major effort to block Freeman was made. And it didn't just come from the fringes.

Obama did not back down. In fact, I hear, he never considered backing down.

According to a letter submitted by Congressman Mark Kirk, the MEPCs VIPS include some wonderful folks:
"The [think-tank's] board of directors includes Dr. Fuad Rihani, a consultant to the Saudi Binladin Group - a multinational construction conglomerate and holding company for the assets owned by the bin Laden family,"
Suddenly, it seems only neocons are nervous about the Bin-Laden family. It really is a new day.  It's a new day too for the families of 9-11 victims. The next time there is evidence implicating Saudi Arabian citizens in terror plots against the United States, Freeman will be there to cover it all up if needed. And Freeman, a director of the American-Iranian Council will be there to assure Americans that Mr. Ahmadinejad is really their friend, and he doesn't mean all that stuff about "A world without America."  Freeman was the choice of intelligence boss Dennis Blair. It is not clear if Obama ever vetted this decision. If he did, and didn't consider backing down, didn't even think of double checking, then it is really strange.
Rosenberg is one of those people who sees neocons under the bed. It takes a "special" sort of intellect to write  "the Washington Post (which happens to be a bastion of neo-conservatism)" as he did. The "neo-conservative" Washington Post supported Obama. It seems only King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Mahmoud Ahmadenijad and the Ayatollah Rafsanjani are big enough liberals for Mr. Rosenberg.  
And yet the amazing thing is that Rosenberg and Muslim Matters are absolutely right. It is mind blowing. If Obama had made the President of AIPAC head of the NIC, there would be headlines in every major newspaper. It is an obvious conflict of interest. Yet Freeman's appointment attracted almost no attention at all from any but right-wing journals and right wing commentators. Nobody batted an eyelash. Nobody bothered to explain how the man who headed a prominent US Arab lobby could be trusted to judge U.S. intelligence. The only response was to scream "right-wing Zionist Neocon, right-wing Zionist neocon" over and over" and to gloat over the defeat of the "neocons." The closest thing to mainstream media coverage of this issue that I could find seems to be this article from the Wall Street Journal by one Gabriel Schoenfeld -  Obama's Intelligence Choice -  which notes:
As Mr. Freeman acknowledged in a 2006 interview with an outfit called the Saudi-US Relations Information Service, MEPC owes its endowment to the "generosity" of King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia. Asked in the same interview about his organization's current mission, Mr. Freeman responded, in a revealing non sequitur, that he was "delighted that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has, after a long delay, begun to make serious public relations efforts."
Among MEPC's recent activities in the public relations realm, it has published what it calls an "unabridged" version of "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" by professors John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt. This controversial 2006 essay argued that American Jews have a "stranglehold" on the U.S. Congress, which they employ to tilt the U.S. toward Israel at the expense of broader American interests. Mr. Freeman has both endorsed the paper's thesis and boasted of MEPC's intrepid stance: "No one else in the United States has dared to publish this article, given the political penalties that the Lobby imposes on those who criticize it."
Unsurprisingly, Mr. Freeman has views about Middle East policy that differ rather sharply from those held by supporters of the state of Israel. More surprisingly, they also differ rather sharply from the views -- or at least the views stated during the campaign -- of the president who has invited him to serve.
The issue is not just Mr. Freeman's views about Israel. Public servants can have different political views from those of the President and still get the job done. The problem is that there is a reasonable suspicion that he may be unduly influenced by a foreign power, and that he has totally unrealistic views of  the Hezbollah and the Hamas which indicate he may be incompetent to judge intelligence. Nobody at all is willing to discuss the issues. Predictably, Professor Walt (the "Israel Lobby" guy) published a rant about the "McCarthyite Smear Campaign" against Freeman, blaming it all on the "The Likudnik wing of the Israel lobby." All the right people, he claims, pointed out "what is going on." What is going on is that a man who thinks the Hezbollah and Hamas are friendly to the US, who served as a mouthpiece for Iran and Arab interests, is now in charge of editing U.S. intelligence. How could this be the concern only of "Likudniks" Zionists and Jews? Were only Likudniks killed in the 9-11 attacks? Were only Likudniks killed in the attack on the Marine baracks in Lebanon? Were only Likudniks held hostage in the US embassy? I am not, for the record, a "Likudnik."  
Washington Times, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Fox News, Weekly Standard - that's about the extent of the critical coverage that the Freeman nomination is getting. Even the probe into his finances requested  is hardly to be found in the Washington Post, the New York Times, CNN or other large media outlets. Nobody even cares. Nobody bothers to explain.
Perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps Mr Freeman is an objective judge of Middle East geopolitics and intelligence and doesn't really believe that the Hezbollah and the Hamas are harmless as he said. Perhaps he just shrugged off the million dollar gift of the Saudi royal family, and maybe he was just going a job as President of the MEPC. But it is really strange that this critical appointment evoked no real discussion or concern whatever other than cries of "neocon" "likudnik" etc.  and that nobody in the Obama administration has stepped forward to justify what seems to be a totally bizarre appointment.
At the very least, President Obama owes the American people an explanation. If you agree, even if you are not a right-wing Neocon Zionist Likudnik with horns and a tail, and especially if you are a Democrat and an American patriot, be sure to contact your congressperson or Senator, as well as writing or calling the White House:
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Comments: 202-456-1111
Switchboard: 202-456-1414
FAX: 202-456-2461
Ami Isseroff

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.


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