The Freeman matter – thursday update

Mark Mazzetti and Helen Cooper, reporting for the NY Times, conclude what we all knew and which those working to bring down this appointment attempted, disingenuously, to deny:

Israel Stance Was Undoing of Nominee for Intelligence Post

There’s one particular item in this reporting which I hadn’t known before…Schumer’s description, in a note to the WH, of Freeman’s positions as reflecting an “irrational hatred of Israel”.   That is a preposterous claim (so far as my reading can discern things) but it is a very typical example of the successful propaganda smears that fall to anyone at a high profile who challenges particular Israeli government policies.  It’s disgraceful of Schumer to forward this smear and probably even more disgraceful of him to get suckered into buying it in the first place.

And more: Walter Pincus at the Washington Post notes details from a Freeman email to Foreign Policy magazine:

The libels on me and their easily traceable email trails show conclusively that there is a powerful  lobby determined to prevent any view other than its own from being aired, still less to factor in American understanding of trends and events in the Middle East.  The tactics of the Israel Lobby plumb the depths of dishonor and indecency and include character assassination, selective misquotation, the willful distortion of the record, the fabrication of falsehoods, and an utter disregard for the truth.  The aim of this Lobby is control of the policy process through the exercise of a veto over the appointment of people who dispute the wisdom of its views, the substitution of political correctness for analysis, and the exclusion of any and all options for decision by Americans and our government other than those that it favors.

The full text of the email from Freeman can be found here Pincus notes an important passage in the email:

One result of this, he said, is “the inability of the American public to discuss, or the government to consider, any option for US policies in the Middle East opposed by the ruling faction in Israeli politics.”

This propaganda endeavor, as seen with this affair along with many other earlier examples, appears to be best understood as arising from the hardline and militarist components of Israeli politics, that is, Likud most directly.

And yet more: Charles Lane, in the WP writes:

On the Middle East, Freeman offers a relatively unsophisticated version of the shopworn view that the U.S. is to blame for much of the trouble. He has spoken of “America’s lack of introspection about September 11,” noting that, “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.” In Freeman’s view, the “fundamental answer” to what Muslim extremists want “is that they want to be left alone. There are no Muslim armies occupying the United States; it is we who are there, not they who are here. The fundamental demand is a measure of respect and distance.”

Now, you can agree or disagree with Freeman’s take — I think it’s rubbish. But one thing it definitely is not is original. Susan Sontag said more or less the same thing just after September 11, 2001. You can get some version of this “analysis” any day of the week in the blogosphere or the Middle East Studies programs of our major universities.

As best I can tell, what distinguishes Freeman from other retailers of these clichés

Lane either cannot think very clearly or he’s simply propagandizing.  To describe Freeman’s criticism of a marked failure by America to reflect on its own contribution to the real facts about widespread anger at the US and the events of 9/11 as “shopworn” and “cliched” because others have advanced the same notion is worthy of ridicule.  Lane’s own stance and argument here has exactly the same status except that it is far more shopworn and cliched in our political discourse than Freeman’s, by a long ways.  And in the process of advancing his argument, Lane avails himself of the even more shopworn and cliched “they hate America first” equation that falls so easily from rattling noggins of modern rightwing ideologues.

And yet more: Is this Hyatt, again?  An editorial in the WP goes where Lane goes and concludes:

What’s striking about the charges by Mr. Freeman and like-minded conspiracy theorists is their blatant disregard for such established facts. Mr. Freeman darkly claims that “it is not permitted for anyone in the United States” to describe Israel’s nefarious influence. But several of his allies have made themselves famous (and advanced their careers) by making such charges — and no doubt Mr. Freeman himself will now win plenty of admiring attention. Crackpot tirades such as his have always had an eager audience here and around the world. The real question is why an administration that says it aims to depoliticize U.S. intelligence estimates would have chosen such a man to oversee them.

Note the ad hominem re Walt and Mearsheimer’s paper.  Note also that Hyatt (if it is him) simply refuses to make any note of what fell on those two after their paper was published from the very same quarters as have just gone after Freeman.   If it weren’t for a couple of friends associated with this publication, I’d be tempted to wish it a very speedy end.

And then there’s Broder: In his column this morning, Broder describes the failure of this appointment as “an embarrassment” for the Obama administration.  I guess for people like Broder, embarrassment is the thing to be avoided at all costs.  It’s a silly, insider criterion which refers to struggles for court favor and status.  I suppose it is ‘objective’ in one sense – it lacks the courage to make a moral stand.

I note as well here that Pelosi apparently described Freeman’s views as “beyond the pale”.  So that is Schumer and Pelosi both who have bought into and/or forwarded the propagandist meme.  Shameful.

And finally (I think): The always essential Glenn Greenwald

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