Good news coming out of Washington, where the appointment of the Saudi/Chinese Government Lobbyist Chas Freeman Jr is beginning to receive some Congressional Noise.
Eli Lake of the Washington Times has the scoop about Republican objections to the appointment. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) wants the intel IG to review Freeman’s ties to Saudi money. This is from a letter Kirk is circulating among his colleagues:
Given his close ties to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, we request a comprehensive review of Ambassador Freeman’s past and current commercial, financial and contractual ties to the Kingdom to ensure no conflict of interest exists in his new position.
Weekly Standard’s Michael Goldfarb says that objections are also coming from the Democratic side:
Let’s be clear about what this $1 million sum was for: the funding of a Saudi lobby that could “widen the range of debate,” i.e. counter the Israel Lobby. Except in this case, unlike AIPAC which gets its funding from American citizens, the money comes directly from the Saudi regime.
The upshot is that the people who are most strident in their denunciation of the “Israel Lobby” are, without any hesitation, lining up behind a man who was a pawn of the Saudi Lobby. The result will be that every single intelligence product produced by the NIC will be fairly questioned by critics as having been tainted by Freeman’s debts to the Saudis — debts he has paid off over the last decade by making laughable claims in defense of Saudi Arabia.
Republicans are concerned — Lake quotes Minority Whip Eric Cantor as saying Freeman’s past associations “are deeply alarming” and reports that Rep. Mark Kirk is urging the inspector general to review the appointment — but so are Democrats. THE WEEKLY STANDARD has learned that Senator Charles Schumer called Rahm Emanuel earlier this week to express his concern about the appointment.
And while Freeman’s appointment is unlikely to be revoked, this story may yet have legs. Freeman has yet to file his financial disclosure forms. He has one month to do so. It will be interesting to see just how dependent Freeman has been on Saudi largess these past few years.
Folks there is no doubt that this appointment is 99.9% set. But may I suggest that at this point it is crucial that we make sure that this appointment receives FULL transparency. If you haven’t written your Congressional Representative, PLEASE Do so now. Tell them of your concerns, and that a FULL financial disclosure is made. Just to reiterate, The result will be that every single intelligence product produced by the NIC will be fairly questioned by critics as having been tainted by Freeman’s debts to the Saudis — debts he has paid off over the last decade by making laughable claims in defense of Saudi Arabia.
In this time when the US is facing multiple terrorist threats, we must make sure that Congress does it job by assuring the reliability of our intelligence product by making sure that those who are interpreting the data are free of foreign influence.
Also today, Investors Business Daily weighed in on the Chas Freeman appointment :
National Security: Imagine one of China’s and Saudi Arabia’s mouthpieces in America writing intelligence reports for the White House. Meet Chas Freeman, who will soon fill all three roles.
National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair has named Freeman to head his council of advisers, an influential post that, regrettably, does not require Senate confirmation.
As National Intelligence Council chairman, Freeman will serve as a key intelligence adviser to President Obama and will prepare his daily briefings and the all-important National Intelligence Estimate on foreign threats.
The job demands an uncompromising objectivity that Freeman can’t possibly deliver, given his conflicts of interest involving two nations potentially hostile to the U.S.
Freeman for years has showed an almost slavish zeal in defending Riyadh and Beijing from well-deserved criticism. This has undermined Israel and Taiwan, both key American allies.
A former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Freeman heads the Saudi-funded Middle East Policy Council, an influential organ for the kingdom. In that role, he has missed few chances to bash Israel.
In 2007, he said the chief reason America was a terror target was its tacit support for “the brutal oppression of the Palestinians by an Israeli occupation that is about to mark its 40th anniversary.” In another speech that year, he scolded the U.S. for backing “Israel’s efforts to pacify its captive and increasingly ghettoized Arab populations.”
His position on Afghanistan? Let the Taliban run it again, a burning desire of his Saudi patrons, who originally funded and recognized the fundamentalist Taliban regime.
Freeman does business with the bin Laden family in Saudi Arabia, and in the weeks after 9/11 he didn’t even consider halting his dealings with them. Through his firm, Projects International Inc., he continued discussing proposals with the bin Ladens, who also contribute heavily to the Middle East Policy Council.
Freeman also co-chairs the U.S. China Policy Foundation, part of the pro-China lobby. His son works for the China Alliance, which advises clients on China trade.
The elder Freeman, who once worked at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, apologized for the communist regime’s bloody crackdown on young Tiananmen demonstrators. If anything, it was “overly cautious,” he said, ignoring how the Beijing butchers turned the pro-democracy students into human paste with their tanks.
“I do not believe it is acceptable for any country to allow the heart of its capital to be occupied by dissidents intent on disrupting the normal functions of government,” he added.
Never mind if “normal” means communist police state.
Freeman also would let Beijing annex democratic Taiwan. “My own view is that reunification would be very beneficial for all concerned,” he told China’s official state organ, the People’s Daily. “It would remove the only potential cause of conflict between the U.S. and China.”
That’s his new boss’s attitude, too. Blair once called Taiwan the “turd in the punch bowl” of U.S.-China relations.
“China’s proposal for reunification would leave Taiwan’s armed forces intact and continue to make them, rather than the People’s Liberation Army, primarily responsible for Taiwan’s defense,” Freeman said. “The PLA would not garrison Taiwan.
“As I understand it,” he added, “the Chinese proposal would allow Taiwan to continue to choose its own leaders through elections, and would not assign any government personnel to the island from the mainland. Taiwan’s newly democratized political system would not be affected by reunification.”
The Politburo could not have said it better. Truth is, the PLA has a stated goal of military and political hegemony in Asia. It’s called the “Island Chain Strategy.” Perhaps Freeman should read it.
Both Freeman and Blair want to return to the Clinton administration’s Chinese “engagement” policy. Freeman served as Clinton’s assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs before leaving to lobby for China.
It’s no coincidence that a PLA general used him to deliver a thinly veiled threat to the White House over Taiwan, warning that the U.S. risks a Chinese nuclear strike if it intervenes in a conflict between China and Taiwan.
Freeman also apologized for Beijing’s clumsy influence-buying during the 1996 Clinton-Gore campaign, arguing that it was simply trying to compete with the Taiwan lobby.
Blair says the country is fortunate to have Freeman contributing his “remarkable skills toward further strengthening the intelligence community’s analytical process.”
We’re just not sure how pandering to foreign dictators is a worthy analytical skil