We have written here, here and here about Barack Obama’s nomination of Charles Freeman, former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, to head the National Intelligence Council. Freeman’s nomination should be a non-starter. He is a paid publicist for the Saudi monarchy whose views, to the extent they can be identified independent of the Saudi party line, are outside the American mainstream. As Martin Kramer has shown, he has flip-flopped on such fundamental issues as the significance of the September 11 attacks by al Qaeda.
Kramer’s continuing research now adds this nugget: Freeman warned in 2002 against designating terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah as enemies of the United States:
I’m a very practical man, and my concern is simply this: that there are movements, like Hamas, like Hezbollah, that in recent decades have not done anything against the United States or Americans, even though the United States supports their enemy, Israel. By openly stating and taking action to make them–to declare that we are their enemy, we invite them to extend their operations in the United States or against Americans abroad. There’s an old adage which says you should pick your friends carefully. I would add: you should be even more careful when designating your enemies, lest they act in that manner.
As Kramer points out, this “preemptive cringe” proved unjustified, as no such “operations” have been forthcoming. Further, as Thomas Joscelyn notes, Hezbollah was involved in the bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, just six years–not “decades”–before Freeman’s 2002 presentation.
Kramer doesn’t note this contribution by Freeman to the 2002 conference hosted by the Middle East Policy Council, but I think it is significant especially in light of the most recent Israeli election:
Q My name is — (inaudible) –. And what I would like to ask is, because of the multiple turnovers in the government in Israel and the differences of their opinions of how things should be carried out, has this hindered their ability to bring about peace and agreement in a peaceful process?
MR. FREEMAN: You’re asking whether Israeli politics are an obstacle to a decision on peace?
Q Right. …
MR. FREEMAN: … Many people suspect that if Mr. Sharon were to fall from power that he might be succeeded by Mr. Netanyahu, or some other yahoo on the right. (Laughter.)
Given that Mr. Netanyahu is about to become Israel’s Prime Minister, Freeman’s description of him as a “yahoo on the right” suggests that he may not be the best person to interpret Middle Eastern intelligence data for the President. However, as Jennifer Rubin points out, both the mainstream media and Senate Democrats have so far maintained a studied ignorance of the information that has come to light about Mr. Freeman since his appointment was announced. Freeman’s nomination will be an interesting test of Barack Obama’s intention to keep his foreign policy somewhere inside what was once a bipartisan consensus.