Robert Dreyfuss on the assault against Charles Freeman, Edward McClelland on the right of the homeless to hold office, Barbara Crossette on Lakhdar Brahimi



The Zionist lobby roared–and President



That’s the story, in a nutshell, of the lobby’s successful campaign against the appointment of

Charles W. “Chas” Freeman Jr.

as chair of the

National Intelligence Council

. Brilliant, iconoclastic and outspoken, Freeman boasts a long and distinguished record in national security, including service as former ambassador to Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War and as assistant secretary of defense during the Clinton administration. In February Admiral

Dennis Blair

, the director of national intelligence–a long-time friend of Freeman’s–chose him to head the NIC, where Freeman would have been the top analyst responsible for overseeing the production of national intelligence estimates (NIEs), among other things. Often controversial–recall the catastrophically wrong 2002 NIE on Iraq’s (nonexistent) weapons of mass destruction–the NIEs distill the work of sixteen spy agencies into a (they hope) coherent whole that provides guidance for policy-makers.

Freeman is not afraid to take controversial positions. He strongly opposed the war in Iraq, has spoken out against attacking Iran and supports talking to the Taliban. But his cardinal sin, according to the Zionist lobby and its neocon allies, is that he spoke out against Israeli excesses. “The brutal oppression of the Palestinians by the Israeli occupation shows no sign of ending,” he said in a speech in 2007. “American identification with Israel has become total.”

The coordinated assault against Freeman started in right-wing blogs, led by

Steve Rosen

‘s “Obama Mideast Monitor,” on a site led by

Daniel Pipes


Michael Rubin

of the American Enterprise Institute and a handful of others. Within days, the attack spread to the Weekly Standard,National Review and

Marty Peretz

‘s New Republic, and then to op-eds in the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, which published a particularly scurrilous piece by

Jonathan Chait

, who called Freeman a “fanatic.” Backed by furious behind-the-scenes lobbying, it triggered demands for inquiries from members of Congress. Leading the pack were Republicans

John Boehner


Eric Cantor

, seven GOP members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and some leading Democrats, including

Charles Schumer


Steve Israel

of New York.

On March 10, Freeman withdrew. “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,” he said.

Nearly four years ago, I interviewed Freeman about the disastrous appointment of

Porter Goss

as CIA director, an effort by President Bush to install a political watchdog over an agency that is supposed to speak truth to power. Goss was sent to Langley to “impose a vision on [the CIA] that its analysts and operatives reject as simply not based on reality,” Freeman 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.”

It’s now clear that there is little room in the intelligence community, still, for dissenters.   ROBERT DREYFUSS


Daniel Fore

‘s résumé should qualify him for any office in

Oak Park

, Illinois. A Naval Reserve vet, he graduated from the local high school, served as an election judge and attends every village board meeting. But Fore’s candidacy for village trustee was rejected by the election board, even though he had twice the required number of signatures. The reason: he’s homeless. Fore has a blood-clotting disease that prevents him from holding a regular job, but he has lived in Oak Park since 1971. He last resided at the YMCA and now lists a Post Office box as his voting address.

Fore took his case to

Cook County Circuit Court

, which ruled on March 9 that since he didn’t provide an address, such as a homeless shelter, he can’t appear on the ballot. But it’s not that simple: affluent Oak Park has no shelter, housing its needy in a different church each day of the week. “Homelessness is not just someone on the street who’s a wino,” Fore points out. “It’s people living in cars, or FEMA trailers after Katrina.”

The homeless are allowed to vote in every state, but Fore’s lawsuit marks the first time the courts are considering the right of the homeless to hold public office, said his attorney,

Joseph J. Jacobi

. “Hopefully, it will influence not just courts but legislative bodies,” Jacobi says. “You’ve got a growing homeless population, and you don’t want to disenfranchise that population.” Jacobi plans an appeal. If it fails, Fore will mount a write-in campaign for the April 7 election. Thanks to his lawsuit, he’s got more name recognition than anyone on the ballot.   EDWARD McCLELLAND

BRAHIMI SPEAKS: Lakhdar Brahimi

, who led the 2001 talks in Bonn that created the current government structure in Afghanistan, spoke on March 7 with The Nation‘s UN correspondent,

Barbara Crossette

. Brahimi looked back on the mistakes he now believes the US and the UN made in Afghanistan and discussed how the NATO operation is fragmented among a half-dozen national armies. Among his observations:

“What we’ve had until now were different national policies…. That is ineffective and at times disastrous because, obviously, it is not possible for several countries to wage separate wars in the same country and be successful. So to bring everybody together around the same table and discuss what needs to be done is a step in the right direction– on condition, however, that this is prepared seriously and that the agenda is not any more the so-called ‘war on terror,’ which has been a very questionable concept and, at any rate, not very successful in Afghanistan (or anywhere else, for that matter)….

“Afghans know the difference between a friendly military force coming from outside to help them and an occupying force. ISAF [International Security Assistance Force] in the beginning was seen as a friendly force, and it was liked, it was welcomed, it was supported, it was not attacked. But now [since 2003] NATO–I don’t think it has performed very well, and more and more people are looking at it as a force of occupation….

“We are now paying the price for what we did wrong from day one [in 2001]….the people who were in Bonn were not fully representative of the rich variety of the Afghan people.”

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Editorial Director and Publisher, The Nation

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