UH-OH Based on what Chas Freeman’s Son Said this weekend, there are members of the Senate who are cruising for a bruising. Seven US Senators sent a letter to Dennis Blair the Director of National Intelligence, objecting to his pick of former ambassador Chas Freeman as Chairman of the NIC. The letter focuses on Freeman’s lack of experience as well as his controversial remarks regarding Chinese protesters and Israel to exclude him from the position:
March 9, 2009
The Honorable Dennis Blair
Director of National Intelligence
Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Washington, DC 20511
During your nomination process, you indicated your understanding of the importance of clear and accurate intelligence analysis. You explained your understanding of the reasons behind the Iraq WMD intelligence failure and assured Members that one of your goals was to prevent such analytic failures in the future.
You also told the Committee that if nominated your “objective will be to ensure that the analysis produced by the Intelligence Community is objective and free of any political bias, whatever the issue or political climate might be” and said that “President Obama has made it clear … that he expects independent analysis.”
In light of your comments, we were surprised by your decision to appoint Charles Freeman as the next Chairman of the National Intelligence Council (NIC).
The NIC is responsible for providing policymakers with “the best, unvarnished, and unbiased information.” Its Chairman leads this effort, is the Intelligence Community’s most senior analyst, and is at the forefront of reforming analysis so that mistakes like the Iraq WMD failure are not repeated. Mr. Freeman has a distinguished resume, but his intelligence experience appears to be only as a consumer of intelligence-in other words, using intelligence for policymaking. We are unaware of another instance in which someone without years of intelligence analysis experience has been appointed to this position.
Also concerning-in light of the need for any NIC Chairman to have unquestioned objectivity and an ability to convey the Intelligence Community’s judgments in a measured and non-provocative manner-are Mr. Freeman’s highly controversial statements about China and Israel. While Mr. Freeman has since made efforts to clarify his remarks, one of the lessons of the 2007 Iran National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) is that an essential quality in leading the NIC is an ability to ensure that NIEs and other NIC products clearly and accurately convey the views of the Intelligence Community when they are published. Once a product is released it is too late to try to clarify the Intelligence Community’s judgments.
At a time when the analytic community is continuing to struggle with reforming itself and when U.S. leaders, from the President to Members of Congress, have called for a depoliticization of intelligence, we believe this appointment sends the wrong message. The NIC, as the highest intelligence entity providing top level analysis, must represent the clearest level of analytic expertise, an expertise the rest of the government and the public must be assured is free from policy bias. Given our concerns about Mr. Freeman’s lack of experience and uncertainty about his objectivity, we intend to devote even more oversight scrutiny to the activities of the NIC under his leadership.
Tom Coburn Christopher S. Bond Saxby Chambliss Richard Burr
Orrin G. Hatch James E. Risch Olympia J. Snowe
And there is a new revalation about Freeman, Ashley Rindsberg has discovered that Ambassador Freeman wants a National ID system:
Charles “Chas” Freeman, President George H.W. Bush’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia and now President Obama’s pick for the crucial intelligence post of National Intelligence Council chairman, has come under fire in the past weeks for his financial ties to China and Saudi Arabia. Opposition to his appointment to the lead intel position initially came from the right wing, but as Chinese human rights advocates and PRC dissidents lodge their protests against Freeman for sitting on the advisory board of China’s third largest oil company and for remarking that the Chinese government showed too much “restraint” in its handling of Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, Congressmen from both sides of the aisle are starting to call for investigation and opposition to Freeman is becoming more rounded and less ideological.
One new development, revealed here for the first time, which is likely to further damage Freeman’s already battered standing is that the former ambassador advocated creating a national identity system in the US as a part of the war on terror. During a 9/11 Commission interview, Freeman remarked that of three major changes the US government should make to effectively combat terror, one was that “the United States should implement a national identity system, so we better know who is who.”
This development could raise fresh objections to Freeman from both Republicans advocating leaner and less involved approaches to government and Democrats pushing for more robust civil liberty protections. Additionally, revelation that Freeman advocated putting a national identity system in place might also raise questions from the few remaining left-of-center commentators and outlets which support Freeman’s appointment.
Finally Aaron Klein of WND weighs in on the threats from Freeman’s Son. Click here to read about it.