House and Senate members: We never heard from AIPAC about Freeman


Reps. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) both told JTA earlier in the week that they hadn’t been lobbied about the Chas Freeman appointment by AIPAC or other Jewish organizations — it was just something they felt strongly about. Now The Hill newspaper quotes multiple members of the House and Senate Intelligence panels saying they never heard from pro-Israel lobby groups either:

Republicans on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said pro-Israel lobby groups did not spur their opposition to Charles Freeman.
Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), a senior member of the House Intelligence panel, also denied that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) was involved in derailing Freeman’s appointment to head the National Intelligence Council.  …

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla), a member of the Intelligence Committee, who signed the letter to Blair, said activities by pro-Israel lobbyists “had nothing to do with his opposition."
“When you see someone make those kind of statements that’s going to be in that position and was unqualified to be there in the first place — it was the wrong appointment,” said Coburn.
Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), the vice chairman of the Intelligence panel, said Freeman’s accusations against pro-Israel lobbying groups were off base.
“Unfortunately, Ambassador Freeman is suffering from some kind of delusion. I think a lot of people objected to his previous statements regardless of any lobbying.”
Bond said he did not receive any contact from AIPAC and had not even heard of two Jewish groups that came out against Freeman’s nomination: the Zionist Organization of America and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), another Republican on the Intelligence panel who objected to Freeman, said he was not contacted personally by any pro-Israel lobbyists.
“He had absolutely no analytical experience, that’s what caused me great concern,” Chambliss said of Freeman.
Hastings told The Hill that the House Intelligence panel was scheduled to meet with Freeman the same afternoon he withdrew his name.
Hastings said he was not contacted by any lobbyists prior to that scheduled meeting, which was then canceled.
“I’m close to AIPAC. If they did come out against Freeman, I was not in the loop because no one called me to say a word about Charles Freeman,” said Hastings.

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