White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said yesterday that he didn’t really know anything about the controversy over National Intelligence Council chair Charles "Chas" Freeman that’s been boiling in Jewish and foreign policy blogs and other media over the last couple weeks. Asked yesterday by Jake Tapper of ABC News whether the White House was aware of the concerns about "Mr. Freeman, both in terms of his ties to the government of Saudi Arabia, and also because of his association and statement of views that some consider to be anti-Israel, as well as the Middle East Policy Journal’s publishing of a very controversial essay called ‘The Israel Lobby,’" Gibbs said, according to Tapper’s Political Punch blog:
I’ve not read those. I think anybody can look at what the president has said and what the president’s views are, enumerating from the very beginning of this administration the desire to be engaged actively in the Middle East region to ensure a durable and lasting peace. It is something that he’s said he would work on each and every day."
Gibbs said "I think people can be reasonably assured of where the president is on this and how he’ll be actively engaged in seeking Middle East peace."
It’s a little surprising that Gibbs would claim he hadn’t read about the Freeman controversy — Jon Chait’s piece about Freeman made the Washington Post op-ed page on Saturday (even if Saturday is traditionally the lowest read edition of the newspaper each week.) But it’s also worth pointing out that the Freeman appointment was reportedly not made by Obama, but by Director of National Intelligence Adm. Dennis Blair.