Chas Freeman’s statement explaining the withdrawal of his prior agreement to chair the National Intelligence Council makes for good reading. Here is the most revealing part:
I am not so immodest as to believe that this controversy was about me rather than issues of public policy. These issues had little to do with the NIC and were not at the heart of what I hoped to contribute to the quality of analysis available to President Obama and his administration. Still, I am saddened by what the controversy and the manner in which the public vitriol of those who devoted themselves to sustaining it have revealed about the state of our civil society. It is apparent that we Americans cannot any longer conduct a serious public discussion or exercise independent judgment about matters of great importance to our country as well as to our allies and friends.
The libels on me and their easily traceable email trails show conclusively that there is a powerful lobby determined to prevent any view other than its own from being aired, still less to factor in American understanding of trends and events in the Middle East. The tactics of the Israel Lobby plumb the depths of dishonor and indecency and include character assassination, selective misquotation, the willful distortion of the record, the fabrication of falsehoods, and an utter disregard for the truth. The aim of this Lobby is control of the policy process through the exercise of a veto over the appointment of people who dispute the wisdom of its views, the substitution of political correctness for analysis, and the exclusion of any and all options for decision by Americans and our government other than those that it favors.
There is a special irony in having been accused of improper regard for the opinions of foreign governments and societies by a group so clearly intent on enforcing adherence to the policies of a foreign government – in this case, the government of Israel. I believe that the inability of the American public to discuss, or the government to consider, any option for US policies in the Middle East opposed by the ruling faction in Israeli politics has allowed that faction to adopt and sustain policies that ultimately threaten the existence of the state of Israel. It is not permitted for anyone in the United States to say so. This is not just a tragedy for Israelis and their neighbors in the Middle East; it is doing widening damage to the national security of the United States.
The outrageous agitation that followed the leak of my pending appointment will be seen by many to raise serious questions about whether the Obama administration will be able to make its own decisions about the Middle East and related issues. I regret that my willingness to serve the new administration has ended by casting doubt on its ability to consider, let alone decide what policies might best serve the interests of the United States rather than those of a Lobby intent on enforcing the will and interests of a foreign government.
There’s little one can add to this self-indictment. I should say, though, that I would not want the National Intelligence Council to be chaired by the head of a foundation that received funding from the government of Israel.
That’s not to suggest a “moral equivalence” between the government of Israel and Saudi Arabia, however. Saudi Arabia is a repressive dictatorship and its quasi-official charities have served as a primary source of funds for jihadists. These charities were part of a $70 billion Saudi campaign to spread the fundamentalist Wahhabi sect worldwide. That money helped lay the foundation for hundreds of radical mosques, schools, and Islamic centers that supported networks for the jihad movement. A much smaller sum of Saudi money went to the Middle East Peace Council which Freeman ran from 1997 on.
Finally, quite apart from Freeman’s links with the Saudis and the Red Chinese, is it not frightening that the National Intelligence Council was nearly headed by a man who purports to view opposition to his selection to that post as evidence that “it is not permitted for anyone in the United States” to complain about the Israel lobby?
JOHN adds: Was that a narrow escape, or what? Freeman’s farewell is bordering on demented; it makes one wonder how much Barack Obama understood of his views when he selected him for a key intelligence post, and how many others who share Freeman’s world-view have already found a home in the Obama administration.