March 11, 2009

Chas Freeman: was it the lobby?

This is very strange. Mondo Weiss has carried a lot of posts on the withdrawal of this former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Chas Freeman, from consideration for the Chair of the National Intelligence Council. I'm trying to piece this together but it looks like the guy was an Obama nominee but he was out of favour with the Israel lobby. Here's Australia's The Age:
THE Obama Administration has suffered another setback in its quest to fill important posts after a former US ambassador, Charles Freeman, withdrew from consideration for a key intelligence position.

Mr Freeman, a former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, blamed pro-Israel lobbying groups whom he said had "plumbed the depths of dishonour and indecency" for quashing his appointment as chair of the National Intelligence Council.

The latest setback comes as the Obama Administration faces a barrage of criticism over the slow pace of appointments, particularly key posts in Treasury. Three assistant secretaries were nominated on Tuesday and others are working in the Treasury as counsellors, pending vetting and formal nomination, but in the face of the financial crisis concern is growing about the vacuum at the top.

It follows several embarrassing withdrawals by prominent nominees including two candidates for the Secretary of Commerce - Republican senator Judd Gregg and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson - as well as President Barack Obama's first pick for the important health portfolio, Tom Daschle. These withdrawals were prompted by political scandals such as fund-raising investigations or the failure to pay tax.

Mr Freeman's withdrawal, however, has been spurred by concerns about the political backlash his appointment would engender - prompting some commentators to accuse the Administration of caving into McCarthyist pressures.

Yes, it's a hefty old chunk but the context of other Obama appointees being rejected is important. The difference in this case is that this guy doesn't seem to have done anything wrong, though American diplomats have never been my cup of tea. Anyway, according to The Age, Freeman wrote to/on the Foreign Policy magazine website to express his anger at the Israel lobby who he holds responsible for his situation. So let's go there and snip some snippets:
I have concluded that the barrage of libelous distortions of my record would not cease upon my entry into office. The effort to smear me and to destroy my credibility would instead continue.
Oo-er! But who would do such a thing?
unscrupulous people with a passionate attachment to the views of a political faction in a foreign country.
Hmm? "Political faction in" not of or necessarily from "a foreign country". Now that's got to be a clue. Anything else?
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.
We're getting warm, it's in the Middle East but where? who? Be a bit descriptive man!
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.
It's worth reading the whole thing because he goes on to say that he thinks the fanaticism of the lobby and the current rulers of Israel are a threat to Israel's existence and ultimately to America's own security but I started by saying this is strange, very strange.

Well the strange thing is that if you look for anything about this on the web it doesn't get much coverage in the mainstream. Now I don't know this guy from Adam but I don't like these people that climb the greasy pole of the US bureaucracy only to cry foul when they fail to get a certain post when they must be aware of quite a lot of fouls on their way nearly to the top. So I don't know if what he is saying is true or not but what he is complaining of together with the mainstream media silence makes it look very much like an Israel lobby job...but check out Gabriel's post below on that sort of thing.

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