A New York congressman is calling for an investigation of newly appointed National Intelligence Council head Chas Freeman and his ties to the Saudi government. Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), a member of the Select Oversight Panel of the House Appropriations Committee, has sent a letter to the inspector general for the Ofrfice of the Director of National Intelligence asking to look into reports of the Saudi funding of the Middle East Policy Council, where Freeman served as president. (UPDATE: Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) has been circulating a similar letter among his colleagues.) Here’s the full letter:
Mr. Edward Maguire
Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Washington, DC 20511
Dear Mr. Maguire:
As a member of the Select Intelligence Oversight Panel on the House Appropriations Committee I am writing to convey my deep concern over the appointment of Charles Freeman as Chairman of the National Intelligence Council and to ask for your office to conduct an investigation into his relationships with the Saudi government.
As you know, the position of head of the National Intelligence Council is responsible for producing National Intelligence Estimates — the premier intelligence assessments of the Intelligence Community. In a position as critical as this we need to ensure that American interests are being served and that no one in the position has established ties to other governments or entities materially supported by foreign governments.
While I fully respect Ambassador Freeman’s right to express views with which I disagree as a private citizen, I am concerned about reports of his position as President of the Middle East Policy Council, a think-tank funded by the Saudi Government.
I am also discouraged by seemingly prejudicial public statements Freeman has made regarding the Middle East, including these excerpts of a speech in 2006:
"For the past half decade Israel has enjoyed carte blanche from the United States to experiment with any policy it favored to stabilize its relations with the Palestinians and its other Arab neighbors, including most recently its efforts to bomb Lebanon into peaceful coexistence with it and to smother Palestinian democracy in its cradle. The suspension of the independent exercise of American judgment about what best serves our interests as well as those of Israelis and Arabs has caused the Arabs to lose confidence in the United States as a peace partner. To their credit, they have therefore stepped forward with their own plan for a comprehensive peace. By sad contrast, the American decision to let Israel call the shots in the Middle East has revealed how frightened Israelis now are of their Arab neighbors and how reluctant this fear has made them to risk respectful coexistence with the other peoples of their region. The results of the experiment are in: left to its own devices, the Israeli establishment will make decisions that harm Israelis, threaten all associated with them, and enrage those who are not… Tragically, despite all the advantages and opportunities Israel has had over the fifty-nine years of its existence, it has failed to achieve concord and reconciliation with anyone in its region, still less to gain their admiration or affection."
I distinctly remember Director Blair committing in his confirmation hearing he would ensure unbiased intelligence assessments free of political influence.
I ask that you immediately investigate Ambassador Freeman’s relationship with the Saudi government and report such findings to me immediately.