The pressure keeps mounting on the President’s new National Intelligence Council Chairman, Chas Freeman. Washington Times reporter Eli Lake got a copy of the letter from Edward Maguire, inspector general of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), to twelve congressman saying said he would look into Mr. Freeman’s “past and current relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia” and “report back to Congress on any potential conflicts of interest.” (see letter below)
“We are examining the matters you have raised and will respond upon completion,” he wrote.
Those matters include “personal financial disclosures and the list of all contributors to the Middle East Policy Council across all years that Ambassador Freeman drew a salary from the foundation.”
Mr. Freeman heads the council, a Washington educational institute that has received at least $1 million from Saudi Arabia. The Times reported Wednesday that 11 anonymous donors gave the council $2.7 million in 2006.
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Yesterday Lake Reported that the controversial but extremely important pick was announced without the knowledge of the White House:
According to the ODNI, he was named before the intelligence community had completed the investigations into his security clearances and without the prior knowledge of President Obama.
However, an intelligence official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the vetting process was “nearly complete.”
A spokeswoman for Blair spokeswoman Wendy Morigi said the “security clearance process includes a thorough background investigation that examines the employee’s life history, character, trustworthiness, reliability and judgment. The investigation also examines whether the individual could have conflicting allegiances or whether there is a potential for coercion.”
Ms. Morigi said Mr. Freeman had 30 days after starting the job to file a financial disclosure report.
“Each individual hired for a senior position at ODNI is required to work with ODNI ethics officials to determine any conflicts of interest arising from prior employment or financial holdings and to take appropriate steps to resolve such conflicts,” she wrote in an e-mail. “Ambassador Freeman will comply with all procedures and recommendations.”
Perhaps national intelligence director, Dennis Blair, a personal friend of Freeman, wanted to rush the appointment through before the controversy began to build.
Reps. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Steve Israel, teamed up for a letter Thursday asking the Inspector general to broaden the scope of the investigation to include the revelations about Chinese National Offshore Oil Company (on whose advisory board Freeman sits) that were exposed by WND reporter Aaron Klein yesterday:
In addition to the concerns we have with Ambassador Freeman which we have already communicated to you, we would ask you to pay particular attention to the following issue: soon the National Intelligence Council (NIC) will be tasked to produce National Intelligence Estimates on the Islamic Republic of Iran and the People’s Republic of China. Ambassador Freeman served on the Board of Directors of the Chinese National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC), which is owned by the People’s Republic of China.
As you may know, CNOOC also has significant business dealings with Iran. In fact, in 2007, CNOOC signed a $16 billion agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran to develop Iran’s North Pars gas field. CNOOC’s investment in Iran’s energy sector constitutes a possible violation of U.S. law. In addition, CNOOC’s investment in Iran’s energy sector deliberately undermines the foreign policy objectives of the United States, Europe and the United Nations Security Council.
Ambassador Freeman’s service on the Board of Directors of a company owned by a foreign government seems to constitute an obvious conflict of interest — especially given his service to a company owned by the People’s Republic of China with significant investment in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Your attention to whether Ambassador Freeman is an inappropriate candidate to participate in this independent review would be appreciated.
There has been much critisizm of those of us who are exposing the Ambassador’s Freeman’s many potential conflicts of interest. NOT A ONE has adressed this one important Issue, over the past dozen years Freeman has constantly put his wallet infront of his judgment. Do we really want someone with those credentals put in charge of making judgements about intellegence?