February 25, 2009

Freeman's extracurricular activities

Gabriel Schoenfeld gives the background of Chas Freeman the Obama administration appointee to head the National Intelligence Council.

I knew that he was bought and paid for by the Saudis as Schoenfeld points out.

As Mr. Freeman acknowledged in a 2006 interview with an outfit called the Saudi-US Relations Information Service, MEPC owes its endowment to the "generosity" of King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia. Asked in the same interview about his organization's current mission, Mr. Freeman responded, in a revealing non sequitur, that he was "delighted that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has, after a long delay, begun to make serious public relations efforts."

That makes the next paragraph interesting:

Among MEPC's recent activities in the public relations realm, it has published what it calls an "unabridged" version of "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" by professors John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt. This controversial 2006 essay argued that American Jews have a "stranglehold" on the U.S. Congress, which they employ to tilt the U.S. toward Israel at the expense of broader American interests. Mr. Freeman has both endorsed the paper's thesis and boasted of MEPC's intrepid stance: "No one else in the United States has dared to publish this article, given the political penalties that the Lobby imposes on those who criticize it."

His pride is ironic, for as Fiery Spirited Zionist points out, he's an exemplar of the under-scrutinized Arab Lobby that operates in our country.

Still it's hard to see the appeal of someone so tied to the ultra-conservative Saudi monarchy to a decidedly liberal politician and administration. The fear is that despite the differences in their orientation, both harbor an antipathy towards Israel.

Schoenfeld brings up an additional troubling aspect of Freeman's past too.

On the massacre at Tiananmen Square in 1989, Mr. Freeman unabashedly sides with the Chinese government, a remarkable position for an appointee of an administration that has pledged to advance the cause of human rights. Mr. Freeman has been a participant in ChinaSec, a confidential Internet discussion group of China specialists. A copy of one of his postings was provided to me by a former member. "The truly unforgivable mistake of the Chinese authorities," he wrote there in 2006, "was the failure to intervene on a timely basis to nip the demonstrations in the bud." Moreover, "the Politburo's response to the mob scene at 'Tiananmen' stands as a monument to overly cautious behavior on the part of the leadership, not as an example of rash action." Indeed, continued Mr. Freeman, "I do not believe it is acceptable for any country to allow the heart of its national capital to be occupied by dissidents intent on disrupting the normal functions of government, however appealing to foreigners their propaganda may be."

Siding with the Chinese government during the Tananmen Square massacre? Schoenfeld asks how that squares with the administration's purported emphasis on human rights. And I'd point out the Freeman's hypocrisy in understanding China's suppression of a less serious threat compared to his vicious denunciations of Israel for responding to greater threats. I guess that Freeman is a very loyal. He'll staunchly defend repression - whether in Riyadh or in Beijing - by his friends.

(Freeman's ties to the Chinese government ought to raise concerns given Secretary of State Clinton's recent refusal to lend support to Chinese human rights advocates.)

Schoenfeld wonders if Freeman's appointment is one more sign that the Obama administration has problems vetting its appointees. Given the lack of scrutiny the Freeman appointment has attracted, my guess is that the administration is perfectly happy to keep taking chances as it really has paid no price for its past mistakes. Those pointing out Freeman's conflicts will just be dismissed as "neo-cons," regardless of the merits of the charges. The MSM is not doing its job.

Crossposted on Yourish.

Posted by SoccerDad at February 25, 2009 12:20 AM
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