The Chas Freeman beat goes on.
At the Washington Times, my redoubtable colleague Eli Lake has the scoop on how congressional Republicans won’t let go of the appointment of a Saudi apologist to chair the National Intelligence Council. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) wants the intel IG to review Freeman’s ties to Saudi money. This is from a letter Kirk is circulating among his colleagues:
Given his close ties to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, we request a comprehensive review of Ambassador Freeman’s past and current commercial, financial and contractual ties to the Kingdom to ensure no conflict of interest exists in his new position.
Two stunning quotes here: the Middle East Policy Council finally speaks, and here’s what its vice president Anne Joyce says about the controversy:
It’s ironic there was a great deal of publicity generated by our publication of the paper by Mearsheimer and Walt on the Israel lobby, and yet the reaction to the Freeman appointment has been by people who are acting like a lobby.
Yes! You nefarious lobbyists… you … you… you… and your … lobbying!
And this is Paul Pillar on how us pore folk don’ rightly unnerstand ’bout gummint work and the like.
Mr. Pillar dismissed concerns that Mr. Freeman might have become too close to Saudi Arabia, China or other governments because of business connections after leaving the Foreign Service.
"It is perhaps hard for some people who have not been professionals in the foreign service, military or intelligence to understand the concept of serving the government of the day without having a policy agenda," Mr. Pillar said.
Bought-and-sold flacks magically transform once Peter Orszag starts signing their paychecks? Judas in a bucket, what next? Let’s get Billy Mays to run DHS, why don’t we? "THIS AMAZING HEALTH PLAN WILL RAISE THE DEAD! I TRIED IT ON MYSELF!"
Jim Besser at the NY Jewish Week rounds up the pros and cons in a thoughtful piece.
A number of pro-Israel groups are circulating Freeman’s appearance in 2002 at a Washington Institute for Near East Policy forum, suggesting that he is intimating that he considered – if only for a bit – buying into Sept. 11 conspiracy theories.
It is very difficult for me as an American to go to the region and hear such high levels of skepticism about the facts of September 11. I have a lot of confidence … in our institutions, and I accept that al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden almost certainly perpetrated the September 11 attacks.
I’m not sure this is significant – I think he gets the benefit of the doubt at a time, after all, that the Bush administration was peddling tales of non-existent ties between the perpetrators and Iraq.
I agree with Jeffrey Goldberg that what’s more significant about this talk is Freeman’s unsavory "chickens come home to roost" conclusions about the attacks:
Freeman: And what of America’s lack of introspection about September 11? Instead of asking what might have caused the attack, or questioning the propriety of the national response to it, there is an ugly mood of chauvinism. Before Americans call on others to examine themselves, we should examine ourselves.
Robert Satloff (WINEP director): I find it difficult to accept that the people who were on the receiving end of the September 11 attacks should begin by focusing on what they did to deserve it.
Freeman: My point is that cause and effect work both ways. They exist in both directions, whatever the moral consequences might be.
"Whatever the moral consequences might be." Oy.
And good for Rob Satloff.