Tags: obama | charles | freeman

Obama's Intel Pick Disastrous for National Security

Wednesday, 11 Mar 2009 08:37 AM

By Ronald Kessler

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President Barack Obama’s ill-fated selection of Charles W. Freeman Jr. as the nation’s top intelligence analyst demonstrates a lack of responsibility when it comes to protecting our national security.

Freeman withdrew his chairman of the National Intelligence Council (NIC) appointment acceptance after a barrage of criticism from Jewish groups and liberal senators.

Among other things, they focused on Freeman’s description of “Israeli violence against Palestinians” as a major barrier to peace in the Middle East. Freeman also has referred to last year’s violence in Tibet as a “race riot,” rather than a revolt against Chinese occupation. And he has said the Chinese government was too slow to crack down on protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

But most disturbing — and virtually ignored by the media — is a statement Freeman made at a 2005 Middle East Policy Council conference.

“On the question of U.S. strikes on targets in Iran or elsewhere,” Freeman said, “I simply want to register what I think is an obvious point: namely, that what 9/11 showed is that if we bomb people, they bomb back.”

Freeman thus aligned himself with the most zany left-wing critics who say that by its own actions, the U.S. brought the terrorist attacks on itself. Never mind that the U.S. did not bomb anyone prior to the 9/11 attacks: The U.S. invaded Iraq a year-and-a-half after 9/11.

To attribute Freeman’s appointment to more sloppy vetting by the Obama administration is wrong and misses the point. It was well known that Freeman was not an objective observer — a basic requirement for chief of the intelligence community’s center for strategic thinking — and that he has sided with the Palestinians against Israel.

In fact, even after critics called attention to Freeman’s statements over the years, National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair continued to defend him.

Hours before Freeman’s withdrawal, following sharp questioning at a Senate hearing by Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., Blair praised Freeman’s “inventive mind.” He said Freeman would not serve “pre-cooked pablum” to policymakers.

That echoes some of Obama’s own broad and often misguided criticism of American intelligence analysis. Touting his lineup of intelligence officials, Obama said CIA Director Leon Panetta will be part of a team that will ensure that the “intelligence community is no longer geared toward telling the president what they think the president wants to hear.”

Contrary to Obama’s insinuation, the CIA and the intelligence community have constantly taken positions at odds with what many in the Bush administration might have liked to have heard. For instance, the CIA told President Bush and Vice President Cheney that there was no operational connection between Iraq and 9/11.

The agency told the White House to delete material from two speeches about Saddam seeking uranium in Niger. The reference finally made it into Bush’s 2003 State of the Union speech.

The NIC issued a gloomy National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq in 2004, leading Bush to say the NIC was “just guessing.” The NIC issued another estimate in 2007 downplaying the Iranian nuclear program.

If the selection of Freeman to head the NIC is irresponsible, it is no more irresponsible than Obama’s decision to close the prison facility at Guantanamo Bay without a plan for relocating its terrorist inmates.

Those who wonder how Obama could take such a chance with our safety and appoint someone like Freeman to such a critically important post should look at where Obama spent his Sundays in Chicago. For 20 years, he listened to the anti-Israel, anti-American rantings of his minister, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., exposing his family to his hate-filled rhetoric.

In sermons and interviews, Wright equated Zionism with racism and Israel with South Africa under its previous policy of apartheid.

Echoing Freeman’s views, on the Sunday after 9/11, Wright said the attacks were a consequence of violent American policies. Four years later, Wright suggested that the attacks were retribution for America’s racism.

Characteristically, in withdrawing his acceptance of the analyst post, Freeman — a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia — blamed the “Israel lobby” for engaging in “character assassination.”

To be sure, a few of the criticisms leveled against Freeman were unfair.

The fact that Freeman had business dealings with a construction firm owned by Osama bin Laden’s family was a non sequitur. Years before bin Laden began attacking American interests, his family severed ties with him when Saudi Arabia expelled him and confiscated his assets.

On the other hand, the fact that Freeman, since 1997, has presided over the Middle East Policy Council, a Washington-based nonprofit that is funded in part by Saudi Arabian money, was relevant. Whether his enterprise depends on Saudi money or Israeli money, selecting a man with such a background to a post that requires impartiality is outrageous.

Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, had it right when he said in a statement that the appointment of Freeman is more than “yet another breakdown in the Obama administration vetting process.”

Rather, Hoekstra said, “More fundamentally, on an intelligence matter, it calls into question the essential judgments being made.”

The fact that President Obama would choose a man with a crackpot “blame America” mentality to fill one of the nation’s most important intelligence posts should serve as a warning of what lies ahead when it comes to protecting America.

Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via
e-mail. Go here now.

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