The withdrawal of Chas Freeman as chairman of the National Intelligence Council, following two weeks of vituperative attacks on him by the amen chorus of the U.S. Zionist lobby is a black mark on the Obama administration.
As I wrote two weeks ago, when the campaign against Freeman began, if Barack Obama can’t stand up to the likes of Marty Peretz, Jonathan Chait, Steve Rosen, and other snarky critics, and if the White House can’t defend a critical intelligence pick when that person is savaged by Republican sharks smelling blood in the water, then how can we expect Obama to stand up to Bibi Netanyahu and his even more radical ally, Avigdor Lieberman, when they confront Obama over Middle East policy?
It’s sad, and worrying.
Expect gloating in the pages of The New Republic, National Review, The Weekly Standard, at Fox News, in the corridors at the American Enterprise Institute and AIPAC, and in the right-wing and neocon blogs.
Joining in on the trashing of Freeman were the (let’s face it) hard-line Jews of the Democratic Congress, including Senator Charles Schumer of New York, Rep. Steve Israel (yes, he is actually named “Israel”) of New York, and of course, that former Democrat, Joe Lieberman — all of whom crowded into the amen corner with AIPAC.
The Post, writing this morning about opposition to Freeman by seven Republican members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, quoted Freeman from 2007: “The brutal oppression of the Palestinians by the Israeli occupation shows no sign of ending. … American identification with Israel has become total.”
You can, apparently, believe anything but that.
Nearly four years ago, I interviewed Freeman about the disastrous appointment of Porter Goss as CIA director, who was installed by then-President Bush as a political watchdog over an agency that is supposed to speak truth to power. Goss, Freeman told me then, was sent to Langley to “impose a vision on [the CIA] that its analysts and operatives reject as simply not based on reality,” he told me. “It’s totalitarian. We are going to end up with an agency that is more right-wing, more conformist, and less prone to produce people with original views and dissenters.”
I guess we know, now, that there’s no room for dissenters in the intelligence community, now, either.
Late on Tuesday, Freeman issued the following statement:
To all who supported me or gave me words of encouragement during the controversy of the past two weeks, you have my gratitude and respect.
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.