The appointment of Chas Freeman as chairman of the National Intelligence Council is a done deal, and it’s probably the single best appointment that Obama has made to date. But small-minded critics are out for blood. And now John Boehner, Eric Cantor, and other Republicans on the Hill are demanding Freeman’s head.
The critic with the smallest mind, I’d say, is Jonathan Chait, a rabid, pro-Zionist hawk and supporter of the war in Iraq, who wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post this week called “Obama’s Intelligence Blunder.” Chait, who knows squat about intelligence, had the temerity to call Freeman a “fanatic.” As in:
Freeman was attacked by pro-Israel activists, but the contretemps over Freeman’s view of Israel misses the broader problem, which is that he’s an ideological fanatic.
By “fanatic,” Chait meant that Freeman is a “realist,” which is sort of like calling someone a fanatical moderate. Listen to Chait’s “reasoning”:
He’s not an ideologue of the sort who draws most of the attention. When most people think of foreign policy ideology, they mean neoconservatism, which dominated the Bush administration. … Freeman belongs to the camp that’s the mortal enemy of the neoconservatives: the realists.
In other words, if you’re a mortal enemy of neoconservativism, you can’t be appointed.
That was enough for Pete Hoekstra, the ranking Republican — or should we say, rank Republican — on the House intelligence committee, who has called on Obama to rescind Freeman’s appointment. Hoekstra is crabby because Freeman’s appointment doesn’t need Senate confirmation, and he’s reduced to begging Admiral Dennis Blair, the director of national intelligence, to dump Freeman. According to the Wall Street Journal, Hoekstra met Blair on Tuesday, but he was rebuffed. Says the paper:
Mr. Hoekstra met Mr. Blair Tuesday. The intelligence chief made clear his support for Mr. Freeman, Mr. Hoekstra said. The congressman said he plans to meet Mr. Freeman in the next week.
Meanwhile, the Journal adds, a congressman actually named Israel — that would be Rep. Steve Israel of New York, a Democrat — is “calling for an investigation into whether Mr. Freeman’s tiesd to Saudi Arabia pose a conflict of interest.”
Freeman’s defenders include Arnaud de Borchgrave, who wrote:
A rarity in Washington, the secret was well kept until the announcement by Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair. His deputy as chairman of the National Intelligence Council is Charles “Chas” W. Freeman Jr., a Chinese-speaking iconoclast with a brilliant analytical mind that is anathema to the Israel lobby and the neocons.