The Republican Jewish Coalition quickly released a statement this evening welcoming the news that Chas Freeman has withdrawn his appointment as chairman of the National Intelligence Council.
RJC executive director Matt Brooks lauds members of Congress from both parties for putting "principle over partisanship." But he also says in the release that "it is unfortunate that important questions went unaddressed by the Obama White House on those occassions they were raised. It’s troubling how much effort it took to get them to face up to this problem."
We presume Brooks was referring to White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, who evaded a question about the Freeman appointment last week by saying he hadn’t heard any concerns about it. But considering that the man who made the appointment, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, had provided a lengthy initial response to the inquiries of members of Congress about the appointment just a few days after those congressional letters were sent, and his office’s inspector general quickly opened an investigation of Freeman’s background last week, it’s somewhat questionable to say the Obama administration as a whole was unresponsive.
Here’s the full release:
The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) today welcomed the news that Chas Freeman is no longer the Obama administration’s choice to head the National Intelligence Council (NIC).
RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks issued the following statement:
"This news will come as a relief to the large and growing group of Americans who have grown concerned about the judgment and process that led to the selection of this flawed appointment."
Brooks noted that "it is unfortunate that important questions went unaddressed by the Obama White House on those occassions they were raised. It’s troubling how much effort it took to get them to face up to this problem."
"Membership organizations like the Republican Jewish Coalition publicly challenged Chas Freeman’s suitability for this post. And Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle weighed in with concerns.
Nine representatives sent a letter to the inspector general of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, requesting an investigation into Freeman’s ties with Saudi Arabia.
The letter was written by Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL), and signed by seven other Republicans, including Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA), as well as one Democrat.
Separately, Democratic Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) sent a similar letter to the inspector general.
Kirk and Israel later asked the inspector general to expand his investigation to include Freeman’s connections with a Chinese government-owned oil company.
And today, Senator Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) confronted DNI Admiral Dennis Blair with his concerns during a hearing in the Senate Armed Services Committee.
"We are grateful that Members of Congress in both parties distinguished themselves during this episode and placed principle over partisanship," Brooks concluded.