Over the last week, a rather significant storm has blown up over the probable appointment of Chaz Freeman to chair the National Intelligence Council. The protests and campaign against this appointment seem to have arisen mainly from the neoconservative community. I’m just starting to study up on this story now and I’ll likely be posting a bit on it as I get myself educated.
For those interested, let me steer you to this Times piece that went up today from Andrew Sullivan who has been writing on it for several days along with a lot of other smart people. I’m way behind on this and a lot of other people have greater knowledge and familiarity with the issues so I’ll link them as I continue to run into them. Here’s the first paragraph from A.S.
It’s not that big a position in Barack Obama’s administration but it has prompted an outcry more extreme and angry than any appointment so far. Obama’s new director of national intelligence, Dennis Blair, selected a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Charles Freeman, to be chairman of the National Intelligence Council.
A host of issues come together on this matter including American militarism (and the big money/power associated with this), America’s relationship to Israel and the middle east, the petro-chemical industry (as Greenspan admitted before somebody told him to shut the fuck up), the issues surrounding the Israel lobby’s influence on American policy and on the media, American exceptionalism, American populism and the dilemma of America’s (or any other nations’) foreign policy – realpolitik vs something else possibly less amoral.
Update: The Washington Times (predictably rightwing coverage) makes the suggestion (others critical of this appointment have been beating the same drum) that Freeman’s ties to Saudi Arabia make him suspect:
The Times reported last week that the inspector general of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence will begin a review of Mr. Freeman’s financial ties to Saudi Arabia. Members of Congress last week urged the inspector general to expand that probe to include Mr. Freeman’s position on the international advisory board of the state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corp.
But as Sullivan points out in his piece, Freeman was the ambassador to Saudi Arabia and one wouldn’t need to be Holmes to quickly find numerous financial connections between the Bush family and the Sauds as well.
This is Ed Lasky from American Thinker. The two second and third paragraphs pretty quickly give away where this fellow is coming from:
Who else was at this conference? None other than Ali Abunimah-Chicago’s resident pro-Palestinian activist and one of Barack Obama’s friends in the pro-Palestinian community of America.John Mearsheimer, who spills out his venom towards Israel and towards American Jewish supporters of the American-Israel relationship. His views can certainly verge on outright anti-Semitism. He also takes potshots at Christian supporters of our ally.
Another luminary present was John Mearsheimer, who spills out his venom towards Israel and towards American Jewish supporters of the American-Israel relationship. His views can certainly verge on outright anti-Semitism. He also takes potshots at Christian supporters of our ally.
One of the foremost critics appears to be Steve Rosen. Rosen served for 23 years as a top offical at AIPAC though now seems to be with the Middle East Forum under Daniel Pipes. He is under federal indictment for alleged violations of the Espionage Act wikipedia entry here Rosen quotes Freeman and suggests these quotes represent a viewpoint which is “profoundly alarming”
Here is a sample of his views on Israel, from his Remarks to the National Council on US-Arab Relations on September 12, 2005: “As long as the United States continues unconditionally to provide the subsidies and political protection that make the Israeli occupation and the high-handed and self-defeating policies it engenders possible, there is little, if any, reason to hope that anything resembling the former peace process can be resurrected. Israeli occupation and settlement of Arab lands is inherently violent. …And as long as such Israeli violence against Palestinians continues, it is utterly unrealistic to expect that Palestinians will stand down from violent resistance and retaliation against Israelis. Mr. Sharon is far from a stupid man; he understands this. So, when he sets the complete absence of Palestinian violence as a precondition for implementing the road map or any other negotiating process, he is deliberately setting a precondition he knows can never be met.”
Here is another example from 2008: “We have reflexively supported the efforts of a series of right-wing Israeli governments to undo the Oslo accords and to pacify the Palestinians rather than make peace with them. … The so-called “two-state solution” – is widely seen in the region as too late and too little. Too late, because so much land has been colonized by Israel that there is not enough left for a viable Palestinian state alongside Israel; too little, because what is on offer looks to Palestinians more like an Indian reservation than a country.”
This is only profoundly alarming if one holds a set of notions regarding the Israel/Palestine problem (and all other problems which accrue as a consequence) held by the hard right in Israel and the supporters of that view in America. Very many Israelis (the peace movement there is vital) and very many American jews do not share such a view.
And here’s Frank Gaffney, who many will know from his frequent appearances on cable news shows where he forwards an strong pro-Bush, pro-Likud, pro-militarism stance in any matter under discussion – wikipedia entry
“This is a really serious error on the part of Dennis Blair and the Obama administration. Both in government and certainly in the period since he left government, he has compromised the objectivity that one would want in the person whose job it is to oversee the production of National Intelligence Estimates.” Gaffney on Fox
What was really shocking about Freeman’s comments, however, were his references to the September 11, 2001 attacks:
And what of America’s lack of introspection about September 11? Instead of asking what might have caused the attack, or questioning the propriety of the national response to it, there is an ugly mood of chauvinism. Before Americans call on others to examine themselves, we should examine ourselves.
Any suggestion that reflection or self-investigation of America’s footprint in the world might be a necessary and productive exercise is, to this jerk, “really shocking”.
I’ll leave it at that for tonight. As significant new commentary and events come to my attention, I’ll note them here.