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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The attacks on Chas Freeman continue

If the Obama administration and their co-conspirators in the mainstream media thought that the Chas Freeman story was going to go quietly into the night, they are mistaken. Yes, I know, this is my third post of the day on this topic, but there is just so much talk about it in the blogosphere and other mostly non-mainstream outlets (Memeorandum currently has three threads on it and had five earlier today) that it's hard to resiste the temptation to keep it percolating. So I won't.

At Huffington Post, Ashley Rindsberg discloses that Freeman promoted a national identification system (common in Europe and here in Israel, but unheard of in the United States) in the aftermath of 9/11 (Hat Tip: Instapundit).
One new development, revealed here for the first time, which is likely to further damage Freeman's already battered standing is that the former ambassador advocated creating a national identity system in the US as a part of the war on terror. During a 9/11 Commission interview, Freeman remarked that of three major changes the US government should make to effectively combat terror, one was that "the United States should implement a national identity system, so we better know who is who."

This development could raise fresh objections to Freeman from both Republicans advocating leaner and less involved approaches to government and Democrats pushing for more robust civil liberty protections. Additionally, revelation that Freeman advocated putting a national identity system in place might also raise questions from the few remaining left-of-center commentators and outlets which support Freeman's appointment.
I suspect that Ashley has overstated the opposition to Freeman's appointment (few remaining left-of-center commentators and outlets which support Freeman's appointment is likely an overstatement). But the rest of the point is well taken.

At Contentions, Jennifer Rubin wonders where the mainstream media and the Democrats on the Senate Select Intelligence Committee are hiding out and is convinced that the Obama administration will eventually have to abandon the appointment.
This is the John Edwards story on steroids — a virtual conspiracy of silence with little if any journalistic justification. And here the issue is really important — the appointment of a key intelligence official who is alleged to harbor serious conflicts of interest and extreme views. I have made inquiry at two prominent, national newspapers about the lack of coverage and have received one “I’ll pass it on” from the ombudsman and only an automated response acknowledging receipt from the other. I wonder how mortified they’ll be if the story comes and goes, causing greater public controversy and embarrassment for the administration with nary a report from them.

Second, where are the Democrats on the Intelligence Committee. Does Diane Feinstein think Freeman is an acceptable pick? It is interesting to note how lacking in — what’s the word? ah yes — “oversight” the government is now that Congress and the White House are controlled by the same party. Imagine if George W. Bush had nominated someone whose earnings depended on the largess of the House of Saud or who advocated crushing Chinese dissidents — indeed faster than the Chinese government.

And finally, one has to wonder what’s going through the minds of the president and his top team. Is the Freeman choice the sort of “unpoliticized” advice they are looking for?
Again, I'm afraid Jennifer may be deluding herself as to how brightly the light at the end of the tunnel is shining. The mainstream media is still ignoring the Edwards story (only the National Enquirer(!) and the blogosphere have been following it consistently), and there is no reason to believe they cannot do the same with Freeman. And while the Democrats have expressed some surprise at the 'pushback' that the Obama agenda is receiving from some of their own, so far only Shelley Berkley among the Democrats has picked up on this issue. I don't expect Obama to voluntarily withdraw the nomination and I'd be shocked if Freeman - who had to know what he was getting into - withdraws.

But the most powerful article of the day on Freeman may be this one from Bret Stephens at the Wall Street Journal, one of the few mainstream media outlets that is following the story. Freeman picks up on the Left's effort to paint the controversy as being a creation of the 'Israel Lobby,' and rips Freeman's backers to shreds.
So what do Chinese democracy activists have against Mr. Freeman, a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia? As it turns out, they are all, apparently, part-and-parcel of the Israel Lobby.

In a recent article about Mr. Freeman's nomination in the Huffington Post, M.J. Rosenberg of the left-wing Israel Policy Forum writes that "Everyone involved in the anti-Freeman effort are staunch allies of the lobby." Of course: Only the most fervid Likudnik mandarins could object to Mr. Freeman's 2006 characterization of Mao Zedong as a man who, for all his flaws, had a "brilliance of . . . personality [that] illuminated the farthest corners of his country and inspired many would-be revolutionaries and romantics beyond it." It also takes a Shanghai Zionist to demur from Mr. Freeman's characterization of the Chinese leadership's response to the "mob scene" at Tiananmen as "a monument to overly cautious behavior on the part of the leadership."
He then comes up with yet another damning statement from Mr. Freeman's book of quotes:
Mr. Freeman has also been quoted as saying "It is widely charged in the United States that Saudi Arabian education teaches hateful and evil things. I do not think this is the case." Yet according to a 2006 report in the Washington Post, an eighth grade Saudi textbook contains the line, "They are the Jews, whom God has cursed and with whom He is so angry that He will never again be satisfied." Maybe Mr. Freeman was unaware of this. Or maybe he doesn't consider it particularly evil and hateful.
Read the whole thing.


More from Powerline here.
Kramer's continuing research now adds this nugget: Freeman warned in 2002 against designating terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah as enemies of the United States:
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. There's an old adage which says you should pick your friends carefully. I would add: you should be even more careful when designating your enemies, lest they act in that manner.
As Kramer points out, this "preemptive cringe" proved unjustified, as no such "operations" have been forthcoming. Further, as Thomas Joscelyn notes, Hezbollah was involved in the bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, just six years--not "decades"--before Freeman's 2002 presentation.

Kramer doesn't note this contribution by Freeman to the 2002 conference hosted by the Middle East Policy Council, but I think it is significant especially in light of the most recent Israeli election:
Q My name is -- (inaudible) --. And what I would like to ask is, because of the multiple turnovers in the government in Israel and the differences of their opinions of how things should be carried out, has this hindered their ability to bring about peace and agreement in a peaceful process?

MR. FREEMAN: You're asking whether Israeli politics are an obstacle to a decision on peace?

Q Right. ...

MR. FREEMAN: ... Many people suspect that if Mr. Sharon were to fall from power that he might be succeeded by Mr. Netanyahu, or some other yahoo on the right. (Laughter.)
Given that Mr. Netanyahu is about to become Israel's Prime Minister, Freeman's description of him as a "yahoo on the right" suggests that he may not be the best person to interpret Middle Eastern intelligence data for the President.
And the mainstream media (or at least the Washington Post) has finally noticed the controversy (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
All seven Republican members of the Senate intelligence committee yesterday joined a small chorus of voices on Capitol Hill criticizing the choice of a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia for a senior intelligence position, concerned about his views on Israel and his past relationships with Saudi and Chinese interests.
And for those wondering where Diane Feinstein is on this issue (see the Jennifer Rubin piece from Contentions quoted above), here's your answer:
Committee Chairman Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is aware of the letter, an aide to the senator said, but does not see a need to get involved in the matter. The White House has also been largely mum on Freeman's appointment. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was asked last week about the objections, but he ducked the question.
I would not have expected otherwise on either count.


At 1:05 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Jennifer Rubin turned out to be right and you Carl for once thankfully turned out to be wrong - the Adminstration was forced to abandon the appointment. There was just too much about Freeman that offended a lot of people, by no means all of them Jews.

The MSM may not have caught on to the significance of his demise but the blogs did solid and creditable work that ultimately helped to derail him. Of course, I expect his supporters to blame it all on the Jews.



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