Retired Amb. Chas Freeman, who said today that he no longer accepts an offer to chair the National Intelligence Council, has sent this message:
You will by now have seen the statement by Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair reporting that I have withdrawn my previous acceptance of his invitation to chair the National Intelligence Council.
I have concluded that the barrage of libelous distortions of my record would not cease upon my entry into office. The effort to smear me and to destroy my credibility would instead continue. I do not believe the National Intelligence Council could function effectively while its chair was under constant attack by unscrupulous people with a passionate attachment to the views of a political faction in a foreign country. I agreed to chair the NIC to strengthen it and protect it against politicization, not to introduce it to efforts by a special interest group to assert control over it through a protracted political campaign.
As those who know me are well aware, I have greatly enjoyed life since retiring from government. Nothing was further from my mind than a return to public service. When Admiral Blair asked me to chair the NIC I responded that I understood he was “asking me to give my freedom of speech, my leisure, the greater part of my income, subject myself to the mental colonoscopy of a polygraph, and resume a daily commute to a job with long working hours and a daily ration of political abuse.” I added that I wondered “whether there wasn’t some sort of downside to this offer.” I was mindful that no one is indispensable; I am not an exception. It took weeks of reflection for me to conclude that, given the unprecedentedly challenging circumstances in which our country now finds itself abroad and at home, I had no choice but accept the call to return to public service. I thereupon resigned from all positions that I had held and all activities in which I was engaged. I now look forward to returning to private life, freed of all previous obligations.
I am not so immodest as to believe that this controversy was about me rather than issues of public policy. These issues had little to do with the NIC and were not at the heart of what I hoped to contribute to the quality of analysis available to President Obama and his administration. Still, I am saddened by what the controversy and the manner in which the public vitriol of those who devoted themselves to sustaining it have revealed about the state of our civil society. It is apparent that we Americans cannot any longer conduct a serious public discussion or exercise independent judgment about matters of great importance to our country as well as to our allies and friends.
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.
There is a special irony in having been accused of improper regard for the opinions of foreign governments and societies by a group so clearly intent on enforcing adherence to the policies of a foreign government – in this case, the government of Israel. I believe that 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 has allowed that faction to adopt and sustain policies that ultimately threaten the existence of the state of Israel. It is not permitted for anyone in the United States to say so. This is not just a tragedy for Israelis and their neighbors in the Middle East; it is doing widening damage to the national security of the United States.
The outrageous agitation that followed the leak of my pending appointment will be seen by many to raise serious questions about whether the Obama administration will be able to make its own decisions about the Middle East and related issues. I regret that my willingness to serve the new administration has ended by casting doubt on its ability to consider, let alone decide what policies might best serve the interests of the United States rather than those of a Lobby intent on enforcing the will and interests of a foreign government.
In the court of public opinion, unlike a court of law, one is guilty until proven innocent. The speeches from which quotations have been lifted from their context are available for anyone interested in the truth to read. The injustice of the accusations made against me has been obvious to those with open minds. Those who have sought to impugn my character are uninterested in any rebuttal that I or anyone else might make.
Still, for the record: I have never sought to be paid or accepted payment from any foreign government, including Saudi Arabia or China, for any service, nor have I ever spoken on behalf of a foreign government, its interests, or its policies. I have never lobbied any branch of our government for any cause, foreign or domestic. I am my own man, no one else’s, and with my return to private life, I will once again – to my pleasure – serve no master other than myself. I will continue to speak out as I choose on issues of concern to me and other Americans.
I retain my respect and confidence in President Obama and DNI Blair. Our country now faces terrible challenges abroad as well as at home. Like all patriotic Americans, I continue to pray that our president can successfully lead us in surmounting them.
A truly elegant letter of resignation. It is too bad.
Pat, I am glad I waited until now to express my disappointment that Charles Freeman withdrew from this process because he explains the logic of that decision more clearly and convincingly than any commentator. I was tempted after reading the views of others and after having defended him to friends and family who bought into one or more of the various potshots taken to undermine his position…
… but reading this text has given me a cause to reiterate the thoughts that I had a few days ago:
1- this outcome is a discouraging sign for the credibility of future presentations of intelligence related to our nation’s security to the American people, not to mention the President…
2- it is also bad for Israel itself, imho (ie, whether or not their leadership and people recognize it as such… and the same goes for the Saudis and the rest of the Middle East as well as for China, etc.).
Mr. Freeman seems to grasp all this with clarity, modesty, and such an unambiguous lack of ill will towards the President and Admiral Blair that this is the only positive thing that I can draw from this episode…
Maybe, just maybe, this message from Charles Freeman will have a significantly large impact on the topic he addresses, Zionist strong arm blackmailing, to provide a silver lining to this very dark cloud.
It is my hope that this message from him will be read and re-read by all who are interested in, and have a voice in, honest governing around the world.
If this event draws sufficient attention to the unscrupulous tactics of the Israel Lobby so as to expose it for what it is, a powerful force of a foreign country exerting undo influence on American politics, perhaps Charles Freeman will have made a greater contribution to decency in government and world peace than he ever imagined.
Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper
This quite literally makes my stomach curdle and my skin crawl.
Finally, a guy who is willing to say that Israel is not blameless in all things was appointed to a position from which he could offer Obama opinions on the Middle East other than that which AIPAC and the neocons demand. It would have been a view which many in government have not had the guts to hold, but which Obama needs. He’s said he wants views from all sides. The Zionists once again have had their way and denied our president that which he’s said he wanted.
For his refusal to kneel in front of the Israeli Throne he was smeared and slimed by neocons, AIPAC and Sen. Charles Shumer, D,NY, who is now being called by some, Senator from Wall Street and Tel Aviv. The tribal acting Zionists have united once again to knee cap one who dared to speak out in opposition, and the United States government knuckled under once again.
Shumer, who is a critical Democrat in the Senate for getting Obama’s agendas passed, has essentially blackmailed the administration with at least an implied threat that deep sixing Freeman was essential to insuring his support for the administration’s agendas.
Again, in you don’t understand something follow the money. The tail is wagging the dog because the money is in the tail. And therein lies the tale.
So much for trying to convince Arabs and the rest of the world that the US is objective in its dealings in the Middle East. I can only imagine the diatribes which will be forthcoming from Hamas, Hezbollah, PLO and Iran and Arab states.
For my views expressed here I would expect to be villified by Zionists as anti-Semitic. I will simply point to my several posts in which I express admiration for the New York Times columnist Roger Cohen, a Jew, and naturalized American , Richard Cohen of the Washington Post, Thomas Friedman of the New York Times and Jewish friends who have openly stated their opinion that Israel’s interests and the U.S.’s interests are not the same and intertwined and mutually inclusive on all issues as the Zionists insist must be the case.
They, like Charles Freeman, do not hold Israel blameless in all things. They, along with Glenn Greenwald and Fareed Zakaria and others are the new realists. That is a term now used to describe those who are advocating the so-called New Realism, which holds that, as Obama said, we should not require too much of ourselves to solve all evil in the world. We should and cannot let the perfect stand in the way of the possible.
I suspect this political realpolitik is behind the pulled-punch language we’ve heard from Sec. of State Hillary Clinton lately when she’s refrained from throwing brick bats or shoes at China over Human Rights violations, and calling Israel’s Settlement policies, “not helpful”. And in addition she’s invited Iran to sit in on Afghanistan talks. Holy realism! Clinton has lost an advocate for her agenda and efforts. Perhaps he was a sacrificial lamb warning to her and by extension, President Obama.
It will be interesting to watch and listen as this event is digested and analyzed.
Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper
From Freeman’s letter: “Our country now faces terrible challenges abroad as well as at home. Like all patriotic Americans, I continue to pray that our president can successfully lead us in surmounting them.”
It will be interesting to see if Ambassador Freeman’s hope for success gets as much press coverage as Mr. Limbaugh’s hope for failure.
It appears that AIPAC’s espionage-against-the-U.S. spy Steven Rosen was the leader of the attack on Freeman.
I can’t help but think that part of the attack was based on Freeman’s willingness to consider Arabs/Muslims as human beings, instead of the niggers of the world they have been turned into by the Israel Firsters. The slightest shred of humanity towards Arabs or (gasp!) respect and understanding for Islam has become grounds for political excommunication.
I wonder if Col. Lang has not experienced a bit of this himself.
>A truly elegant letter of resignation. It is too bad.
It sounds to me quite a pugnacious letter of resignation. Maybe he thought he could do a better job for the US outside the government rather than within it. If he was within it he could not speak his mind. He obviously has rather a lot to say.
Another link forged in the chain of others with ability to document why the American Century ended after the 20th. Isnt’ there some organization that could form a TEAM-B led by the Freeman’s of the US to offer alternative thinking?
This all reminds me of the classic “The Closing of the American Mind.” That book decried the demise of academic freedom and the rise of Political Correctness in the universities and colleges of the US. Intel should not be GROUPTHINK!
I’m tryinig hard not to sound too dramatic, but the power of the Zionist Lobby, i.e., its ability to dictate what our “interests” are, amounts to a nail, perhaps the final one, in the coffin preceding the eventual internment of our Republic’s independence. C’est dommage, n’est pas? I’m reminded of that old saw, the one that states that nations don’t have friends but rather interests! What happened to that simple yet profoundly realist assessment of how a nation’s foreign affairs should be conducted? I’m not really fishing for a response–I know the answer. Even more telling with regard to Freeman’s eloquent and damning withdrawal and indictment of AIPAC, et. al., is the fact that the MSM’s silence with regard to this issue is deafening. When it is mentioned, it amounts to nothing but a quick and hurried blurb, sans any context, stating that Freeman has withdrawn his nomination. I feel like Edvard Munch’s “The Scream,” a different kind of silence but deafening nonetheless. Sad, really, truly, demonstrably sad.
I agree. Ambassador Freeman’s eloquent statement speaks for itself.
Admiral Blair did this country a service in his support of Freeman and hopefully he finds a similiar individual for his next appointee so we are not left with “precooked pablum judgments”. Though I wish he took the path of Elliot Richardson….
Just to offer a totally personal comment, 40 years ago, give or take a couple yrs., a long time friend of my family, the UN and chief foreign correspondent for the St. Louis Post Dispatch, one Donald Grant, was driven from his position by “Zionists”. I was a college student, but remember a dinner at his apt. in NYC in which he expressed shock, and disbelief that this could happen, but he “stood by his story” and said he just “called the shots as he saw them” andthis time (I don’t remember the exact issue but it could have been 1967 or 68…) he “called” against the Israelis. He thought his paper would back him up. They would, sort of, they offered to bury him on the Editorial page, with no by-line, but he chose early retirement….to the paper’s loss, I’d like to think. He was one of the first foreigners allowed into Castro’s Cuba,and was a very senior and serious correspondent. Not a partisan by any stripe. I’ve sort of waited all these years to see when the Zionist bluff would be called….Now?? Maybe??
I could not be more disappointed – or less hopeful about the US following a more honest (and intelligent) course in the ME. Hopefully some good will come of this behind closed doors. Can’t imagine what, though.
When will someone in power say “enough” to these incredibly misguided fools and their media enablers. Looks like Admiral Blair tried – more power to him.
I’ve had the pleasure and honor of meeting Ambassador Freeman, admired him as everything a foreign service officer should aspire to, and was overjoyed at his appointment. His letter of resignation only increased my admiration and respect for this gentleman and his dedication, intellect and, yes, patriotism.
Unfortunately tonight I don’t have time to read the thread.
I did hear Mr. Freeman interviewed on NPR this afternoon.
I would enjoy sitting for coffee with some of you and him and merely listening.
There is a lot of courage present here.
We can create or find some way past the conundrum inherent in speaking truth to power regarding the Jewish state without being branded anti-semitic.
Perhaps if we began to play the Oriental game “Go” instead of chess, or gave up the blackberries and iPods and such all and began to have American people talk with the Israeli people as people and not subjects we’d change the flow of energy. I dunno.
The way it is going now it feels like a zero sum game.
Meanwhile nuclear nonproliferation in other parts of the world (Central Asia/Pakistan) gets little public attention.
At The Daily Beast:
“Rosen’s tactics follow a familiar pattern he has displayed throughout his career, in which he viciously undermined anyone in the foreign-policy community deemed insufficiently deferential to Israel—even his own boss.”
There is a bigger issue here. For quite some time the United States has not been a democracy – in the sense of government of, by and for the people. It has become an oligarchy – government by a few small, but very powerful, groups. The main such groups are, in common parlance, the Wall Street financiers, the military-industrial complex, the media barons, and the Israeli-Likud lobby. Each of these groups has its own aims, but these have enough commonality that they can avoid acting at cross-purposes, and even work together often. The nexus that enables these groups to work in concert is that the primary aim of each of their principals is the same – to amass wealth.
The US government – Congress, the executive branch, and the federal judiciary – is an elaborate kabuki show to divert and amuse the onlookers (the American people and the rest of the world). The role assigned to the kabuki players is to playact at governing, but to ensure that where the interests of the oligarchs arise, they act compliantly. The charade of electoral democracy sometimes throws up a player who will not conform to the script. When this is a Dennis Kucinich or a Ron Paul, they can be ignored, or the media dogs are let loose on them.
Once in a while, however, turbulent times upset the electoral charade and cast up a Barack Obama onto the seat of real power. He has no interest in the kabuki script because he has a script of his own, and has acquired the means to follow it. Here, the oligarchs are forced to rely upon the complexities of government, and the human limitations of one man. They know they cannot suborn or corrupt the man, so they ensure that the people around him (upon whom he must depend for advice on his plans and policies, and their execution) are their minions.
That is why Chas Freeman could not be allowed to serve. That is why Emanuel, Summers, Geithner, Gates, et al, slide effortlessly into their seats.
Rosen’s initial posting was the first of 17 he would write about Freeman over a 19-day period. Some of those added more original reporting, while some pointed to other blogs’ finds about Freeman’s record. In the process, Rosen traced increasing interest in the appointment elsewhere in the blogosphere, including coverage by Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic, Michael Goldfarb of the Weekly Standard, and Chait and Martin Peretz of the New Republic.
Interest also was growing among members of Congress.
On March 2, Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) wrote Blair to raise concerns based on what he had read about Freeman’s positions. Two days later, he called for Blair to withdraw the appointment.
Also on March 2, the Zionist Organization of America called for support of a letter by Rep. Mark Steven Kirk (R-Ill.) that called on the DNI inspector general to investigate Freeman for possible conflicts of interest because of his financial relations with Saudi Arabia. That letter, signed by Kirk and seven other congressmen, including House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), was sent to Inspector General Edward Maguire on March 3.
Close observers of the events consider that request a turning point in the effort to stop Freeman’s candidacy, and Rosen’s blog began focusing almost exclusively on the appointment.
On Monday, the seven Republicans on the Senate intelligence committee wrote Blair to protest his choice, which was not subject to Senate confirmation, and threatened to review the NIC’s work as long as Freeman chaired that body.
At a Senate Armed Services Committee meeting one day later, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) told Blair of his own concerns, and he added that the controversy “is not going to go away until you or Ambassador Freeman find a way to resolve it.” Hours later, Freeman withdrew.
Freeman explained his decision last night on National Public Radio: “It became apparent that, no matter what the National Intelligence Council or the intelligence community might put out under my chairmanship, I would be used as an excuse — if something was said that wasn’t politically correct — to disparage the quality and the credibility of the intelligence.”
Laura Rozen has links to the obits and commentary.
Wonder when the WaPo and NYT editorials were written.
For a choice example of The- Enemy-is-Bullshit genre check out the Fred Kaplan piece.
So the Washington Post tells us that
Weekly Standard circulation = 85K
New Republic circulation = 60K
Atlantic circulation = 400K
plus four named legislators, three of whom are minority party.
plus Nancy Pelosi, clutching her pearls over the China canard
“expressed concerns” which forced him to withdraw.
After hearing the shocking and puzzling news yesterday that Charles Freeman in effect resigned his appointment as chairman of the National Intelligence Council (NIC) before he got started, I initially thought negatively of Dennis C. Blair, the new Director of National Intelligence, as I assumed he had buckled under political pressure and un-appointed Mr. Freeman.
But then it seemed as if Mr. Blair backed his appointee up when appearing Tuesday, March 10, before a Senate committee where he defended Mr. Freeman without equivocation under propaganda-styled questioning by Senator Joe Lieberman, a known Trojan Horse. A few hours after his defense of Mr. Freeman, the bad news came.
I had stated in a comment on this web blog when Charles Freeman was appointed that I felt his selection would not be derailed by the smear campaign that had already started against him, since the law gave the National Intelligence Director absolute discretion to select the members of the NIC without Senate confirmation, and Mr. Freeman had significant knowledge about the Washington D.C. snakepit.
The style, content, and clarity of Mr. Freeman’s exit message show he has a formidable intelligence. Yet, his explanation that ongoing attacks on him by two-bit, unscrupulous people would prevent the NIC from functioning effectively is difficult to understand. He says that he “agreed to chair the NIC to strengthen it and protect it against politicization, not to introduce it to efforts by a special interest group to assert control over it through a protracted political campaign.” However, the essence of “politicization” is attempts by “special interest groups” to influence or control a governmental department. Thus, Mr. Freeman knew that the demonizing and smear campaign was par for the course and was going to happen no matter what.
The public face on this mess makes no sense.
Other political dynamics most likely were in play, and Mr. Freeman, being a skilled diplomat, is using covering language to put some sort of face on the debacle.
I think about former president Bill Clinton and how he didn’t let criticism faze him. I think he said once about all the attacks against him: “when I put my shoes on every day there are many people who will disagree with me no matter what I do.” And at the height of the impeachment proceedings and political assault against him, he said on television that “I am going to stay in office to the very last hour of the very last day”. And he did.
Can you imagine President Barack Obama standing up to political attacks as Bill Clinton did?
The odds are that only Obama could have been part of scuttling Mr. Freeman’s appointment.
My “hope” in and for Obama has now disappeared. First, he stabs retired General Anthony Zinni in the back after he was appointed ambassador to Iraq, and Zinni was un-appointed. Now he fails to back up Mssrs. Blair and Freeman.
Vladimir Putin is rolling on the floor laughing.
And in the general sense, the description by FB Ali in his comment above provides a largely correct context in which this event occurred.
The most bizarre aspect of all of this…
Of the strength and power AIPAC and it’s allies have over American policy is that by and large The Jewish vote as a bloc, for what are considered “Liberal” or “Left-wing causes”. The roll call is very long when it comes to American Jews who put themselves on the line to back causes unpopular at the time but later shown to be right.
AIPAC and it’s allies must not be allowed to get away, unchallenged, with it’s claim that it represents the views of American Jews.
As we all know, AIPAC and it’s friends promote the views of an extreme faction of a foreign power, it might have persuaded large sections of American Jews that it represents them, but it doesn’t…. And it’s long past time more of us stood up and said so.
Mr. Freeman said that nobody in the White House ever pressured him to withdraw. He said that he and Mr. Blair had agreed on Tuesday afternoon that he should step aside to avoid any perception of taint to the intelligence assessments he would have overseen at the National Intelligence Council. Hours earlier, Mr. Blair defended Mr. Freeman for his strong views and quick mind, and said he hoped he would challenge an intelligence community that for years had been criticized for groupthink.
In the days after Senator Schumer’s first phone call, other lawmakers and pro-Israel groups began applying pressure on the White House. Representative Steve Israel, a New York Democrat, also called Mr. Emanuel about the pick, and pushed Mr. Blair’s inspector general to examine possible conflicts of interest surrounding Mr. Freeman’s relationships with the Chinese and Saudi governments.
“I was prepared to present my case to anyone at the White House who would listen to it,” Representative Israel said.
Pro-Israel groups weighed in with lower-ranking White House officials. The Zionist Organization of America sent out an “action alert” urging members to ask Congress for an investigation of Mr. Freeman’s “past and current activities on behalf of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
With opposition to Mr. Freeman mounting, many in the White House were debating the wisdom of the selection, despite Mr. Blair’s public support for him. “In conversations with people associated with this administration, I never detected any enthusiasm for this pick,” said Ira N. Forman, executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council.
This is really getting bizarre. WAPO prints Rep. Frank Wolf’s take on the facts on OP-ED page. Freeman should be given rebuttal oportunity. The former Vice Chair of NIC says it is much ado about nothing. Clearly one side of the issue wants discussion to be dropped. So hope discussion continues. Just finished a book published originally in 1993 by Robert Kaplan entitled “The Arabists” tracing the evolution of the diplomats and players in US diplomacy in “Arabia” from the beginning of the 1800’s. Reaches some not so startling conclusions–US Domestic Politics governs foreign policy in Arabia. Careful documentation in book explains how that became the be and end all of US policy and of course need for OIL after 1960 from foreign supply. Also documents that Israel was proxy for US in saving Hasemite Rule in Jordan during Black September crisis and attempt by PLO to take over Jorday. Okay so what has Israel done for us recently if realist foreign policy is what drives US foreign relations? Documentation would be helpful or published open source analysis of value of US to Israel and vice versa! Kaplan firmly believes and documents the opposition to formation of STATE of ISRAEL was complicated but done in face of knowing that it would create problems with ARAB nations/tribes. He also documents the complex relationship and evolution of ARAB attitudes toward Israel since 1948 including fact that the best of ARAB leaders understood they might even be beneficiaries in odd ways of Israel’s existence. Very interesting and complex book but useful as background to current events. Should be updated by Kaplan!