The controversial appointee to chair President Barack Obama’s National Intelligence Council walked away from the job Tuesday as criticism on Capitol Hill escalated.
Charles W. Freeman Jr., the former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, had been praised by allies and by the director of national intelligence, Dennis Blair, as a brilliant, iconoclastic analyst. Critics said he was too hard on Israel and too soft on China.
Freeman “requested that his selection to be Chairman of the National Intelligence Council not proceed,” Blair’s office said in a statement. “Director Blair accepted Ambassador Freeman’s decision with regret.”
The withdrawal came after Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) grilled Blair at a Senate Armed Service Committee hearing Tuesday. Lieberman cited his “concern” about “statements that [Freeman] has made that appear either to be inclined to lean against Israel or too much in favor of China.”
In particular, Freeman has described “Israeli violence against Palestinians” as a key barrier to Mideast peace, and referred to violence in Tibet last year — widely seen in the U.S. as a revolt against Chinese occupation — as a “race riot.”
Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair announced today that Ambassador Charles W. Freeman Jr. has requested that his selection to be Chairman of the National Intelligence Council not proceed. Director Blair accepted Ambassador Freeman’s decision with regret.
As YWL points out,
The problem was that:
A. He was involved in business dealings with Saudi Arabia that can be called questionable.
B. The Middle East Policy Council which he managed has published extreme points of view.
C. Even former Secretary of State James Baker, hardly a pro-Israel activisit, thought Freeman was an apologist for the Saudis.
D. He said some pretty nasty stuff about China, where he also served and with which he also had some business dealings (he sort of congratulated the regime on crushing the dissidents with lots of bloodshed).
There was more, too, And obviously he pulled out lest more come out. (Only hours before it came out that his research center had received far more Saudi money than previously admitted by them.)
I’m very glad Freeman withdrew.
Prior post here.