Chatting with Chas on the bus
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Chatting with Chas on the bus

Conor Clarke of The Atlantic ran into the most controversial guy in Washington this week — on the Mt. Pleasant bus:

A few stops after I got on the 42 bus this morning, Charles Freeman plunked down across from me. He was reading an old paperback copy of Colleen McCullough’s The Thorn Birds, and looking more like a high school English teacher than an existential threat to the state of Israel.

I introduced myself and told him I was sorry that he resigned. He recoiled only slightly when I mentioned I worked for the Atlantic, then smiled broadly. "S–t happens." He added a little wistfully: "I wasn’t so eager to go back to the government, anyway."

I asked him what he thought of his critics. "I don’t pay much attention to the blogosphere. But I did read Jim Fallows. Fallows actually seemed to have read what I said."

The woman next to me suddenly pieced it together. "Now I know who you are!" She hesitated for a second. "I still disagree with you." Others on the bus started to look confused, even a little worried.

Freeman smiled again, and laughed. "I guess now I’m a notorious  personality." He went back to reading his novel. A few stops later, he got off the bus.

Also, Politico’s Ben Smith reports that the inspector general for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has closed his investigation of Freeman — now that Freeman has withdrawn his name to be National Intelligence Council chair.