Another congressman speaks out on Freeman


Another member of Congress is going public with his unhappiness about the appointment of Charles "Chas" Freeman as chair of the National Intelligence Council. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) has sent a lengthy letter to President Obama detailing his problems with the appointment. Wolf, a longtime activist on human rights, is particularly upset about Freeman’s ties to the China National Offshore Oil Corporation and the regimes that company deals with, and concludes his letter by saying "Mr. Freeman is not the right person for this job and for the good of our country I urge you to reconsider your choice." (UPDATE: In my rush to get up the post, I forgot to mention something Michael Goldfarb notes while linking to this post — Wolf’s handwritten note at the bottom of the letter stating "This is very important. Thank You!") Here’s the full letter:

The Honorable Barack H. Obama
The President
The White House
Washington DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

I write today to share my deep concern regarding the appointment of Chas W. Freeman Jr. as chairman of the National Intelligence Council.

Particularly disturbing is Mr. Freeman’s position on the international advisory board of the China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC), which he has held since March 2004. The communist government of China, along with other state-owned companies, are majority stakeholders in CNOOC. This connection would require Mr. Freeman to recuse himself from certain matters involving China.

The 2007 U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s Classified Report to the Congress addresses Chinese activities in the areas of espionage, cyber warfare, and arms proliferation. In 2006 four of the computers in my Capitol Hill office were hacked. It was confirmed by the FBI that these attacks originated in the People’s Republic of China. The economic stimulus plan recently rolled out by Chinese Premier Wen Jiaobao includes a 14.9 percent increase in military spending. It is evident that China poses an increasing national. security threat to the United States. How is national security policy enhanced by having a chairman ofthe NIC who must recuse himself from matters involving a regime which poses one ofthe most serious national security risks to the United States?

In an April 25 speech given by Mr. Freeman at the National War College Alumni Association, he described the March 2008 protests in Tibet as "a race riot." The Tibetan people have suffered for decades at the hands of the authoritarian Chinese government, and such a characterization of the March uprising is deeply insulting. I traveled to Tibet in 1997 where I heard endless accounts ofviolent oppression by the Chinese government. I spoke to Buddhist monks and nuns who recounted their experiences of torture and imprisonment in Tibet’s notorious Drapchi Prison. Just last week, the Associated Press reported that a Tibetan monk was shot three times by Chinese security forces after he set himself on fire.

Additionally, CNOOC’s substantial investment in Sudan’s oil sector has served as the lifeline to the regime of President Omar al Bashir. recently indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Senator Sam Brownback and I traveled to Darfur in 2004, where we saw first hand the suffering and destruction that has taken place under the Bashir regime. We heard first hand accounts of women who were brutally abused at the hands ofthejanjaweed forces. During our visit we captured the haunting images of the terror and destruction, and we will share those photographs with your administration at your request. Mr. Freeman’s appointment to this high level post undermines the policy of U.S. divestment from the genocidal regime of Sudan.

Most recently, Mr. Freeman served as president of the Middle East Policy Council, a think-tank funded by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. On September 20, 2006, in an interview with the Saudi-US Relations Information Service, Mr. Freeman said that "thanks to the generosity of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia we have managed to accumulate an endowment" for the Middle East Policy Council. According to filings with the Internal Revenue Service, Mr. Freeman drew an annual salary from the Middle East Policy Council. However, the foundation has never publicly released its list of contributors.

In his Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Looming Tower, Lawrence Wright states on page 170 that "Saudi Arabia, which constitutes only 1 percent ofthe world’s Muslim population… supports 90 percent ofthe expenses ofthe entire faith," including "thousands of religious schools around the globe, staffed with Wahhabi imams and teachers." I have enclosed a copy ofthis book and strongly encourage you to read it. Wahhabi teachings exported by the Saudis have inspired a generation of young radicals that have proven themselves ready to take up arms in the name offaith. Many experts believe that the notorious Taliban leader Mullah Omar was educated in a Saudi-funded radical madrassah. How can Mr. Freeman possibly be expected to confront this challenge head on after taking home years of paychecks from the Saudis?

The reprehensible regimes with which CNOOC does business does not end there. The company rebuffed public calls to withdraw from Burma in October 2007 after the ruling military junta opened fire on peaceful protestors in a movement known as the Saffron Revolution. CNOOC also has invested in Iran, a country which is actively seeking to build nuclear weapons and has vowed to "wipe Israel off the map." Such activities starkly contrast with the national security interests ofthe United States.

The evidence strongly suggests that Mr. Freeman is not the right person for this job and for the good of our country I urge you to reconsider your choice.

Best wishes.

Frank R. Wolf

Member of Congress

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