Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Obama Intel Appointment Angers Israel Supporters
2. Solzhenitsyn Feared KGB Targeted Him in U.S.
3. Obama’s Donor-Packed Economic Advisory Board
4. Chinese Spies Infiltrating U.S. Businesses
5. Obama Uses Code Language for Blacks
6. Kasparov: Putin Camp ‘Teetering Toward Collapse’
7. We Heard: Gordon Brown, Sen. Inhofe
1. Obama Intel Appointment Angers Israel Supporters
President Barack Obama's administration has sparked controversy with its choice for chairman of the National Intelligence Council — a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia who has staunchly supported anti-Israel views.
In his new post, Charles W. Freeman — who was ambassador from 1989 to 1992 and served during Operation Desert Storm — will be responsible for overseeing the production of National Intelligence Estimates and other intelligence data.
The Power Line blog observed that “Saudi shill” Freeman’s “loyalty to Saudi Arabia and his outside-the-mainstream views on the Middle East make him a strange choice for the post, to say the least.”
For the past 12 years, Freeman has been president of the Middle East Policy Council (MEPC), which has received funding from Saudi Arabia and lobbies on behalf of the Arab world.
Views expressed in the organization’s journal, "Middle East Policy," argue that the invasion of Iraq was launched to aid Israel, saying that “the war was an excuse to enlarge the U.S. strategic ‘footprint’ on top of the lakes of oil in the Gulf region and make life easier for Israel, starting with the easiest problem case, Iraq.”
The MEPC published what it called an “unabridged” version of “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” by professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt. That controversial 2006 essay asserted that American Jews have a “stranglehold” on the U.S. Congress which they exploit to tilt America toward Israel at the expense of broader national interests.
In a 2007 address, Freeman stated that “Israel no longer even pretends to seek peace with the Palestinians” and decried “the brutal oppression of the Palestinians by an Israeli occupation,” The Wall Street Journal reported.
The MEPC’s political action group publishes a book that teaches children that Muslims discovered the New World. It cites two sources that claim Muslims reached the Western Hemisphere in pre-Columbian times and spread throughout the Americas.
When explorers reached the New World, according to the sources, they met “Iroquois and Algonquin chiefs with names like Abdul-Rahim and Abdallah Ibn Malik.”
Freeman maintained business ties to the bin Laden family and their Saudi Binladen Group construction conglomerate even after the 9/11 attacks. He said in an interview with The Associated Press less than a month after Sept. 11 that he was still “discussing proposals with the Binladen Group — and that won’t change.”
Regarding the terrorist attacks, Freeman said at a 2002 conference that Osama bin Laden “almost certainly” perpetrated 9/11, the hijackers “probably” were recruited in Saudi Arabia, and Americans should ponder “what might have caused the attack.”
Freeman has also created concern over his views on China, saying in 2006 that the specter of a Chinese threat to the U.S. is nothing more than “a great fundraiser for the hyper-expensive advanced weaponry our military-industrial complex prefers to make.”
Freeman also opined that the Chinese government exercised “overly cautious behavior” regarding the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests that led to a massacre of demonstrators.
Freeman was on the international advisory board of the China National Offshore Oil Corporation, which is owned by the Chinese government, while it was doing business with Iran, according to the Weekly Standard.
In 2006, the Chinese firm reportedly agreed to a multibillion-dollar deal with the state-owned Iranian oil company that may violate U.S. sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
Members of the pro-Israeli community have privately criticized Freeman’s appointment, according to The Washington Times.
“Freeman is well-known for his hostility toward Israel, but what's more substantively troubling . . . is the obvious inappropriateness of hiring a well-known advocate for the interests of Middle Eastern autocracies to produce national intelligence estimates for the Obama Administration,” Jeffrey Goldberg wrote in The Atlantic.
And House Republican Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia said: “Freeman’s past associations and positions on foreign policy are deeply alarming. His statements about the U.S.-Israel relationship raise serious questions about his ability to support the administration’s attempts to bring security, stability, and peace to the Middle East.”
2. Solzhenitsyn Feared KGB Targeted Him in U.S.
Even after he was expelled from the Soviet Union and was living in the U.S., dissident Russian author Alexander Solzhenitsyn feared for his life at the hands of the KGB.
Official documents obtained by Newsmax under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) disclose that at one point Solzhenitsyn, who died in August 2008, sought permission to carry a gun due to his concern over the Soviet secret police.
Solzhenitsyn, author of “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” and “The Gulag Archipelago” and the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970, was an outspoken critic of the Soviet government and communism.
He was expelled from the USSR in 1974 and stripped of his Soviet citizenship. He eventually found his way to the U.S.
A June 1975 memo sent to the FBI director stated that Solzhenitsyn was visiting in Oregon and wanted his visit to remain confidential because he “fears the KGB and is apprehensive about his safety.”
Another document dated May 24, 1976, said Solzhenitsyn was at Stanford University in California conducting research for a new book. He asked his host there to approach the head of the Stanford police services and request a gun permit for Solzhenitsyn, who “feels he is in imminent danger.”
Solzhenitsyn reported that “some very disturbing events have taken place in Switzerland,” and the FBI stated that “this causes Solzhenitsyn to fear for his life.”
But the FBI said: “Solzhenitsyn is an alien and therefore is not eligible for a gun permit.”
The writer’s host then asked if he could lend Solzhenitsyn his .45 automatic, and it was “strongly recommended that he not.”
The FBI noted that at the time the Bureau knew of no Soviet plans to harass or harm Solzhenitsyn.
As for the “disturbing events” in Switzerland, the document noted speculation that Solzhenitsyn was “upset about a copy of a letter that had surfaced in Switzerland by a news correspondent. In this letter, the Soviet government accused Solzhenitsyn of collaborating with the KGB while he was confined in a prison camp many years ago.”
Soon after Solzhenitsyn arrived in the U.S., agents at the Bureau were advised to limit their “coverage” of the Russian exile, who “is an internationally prominent individual, and hence investigation of him by the Bureau might have undesirable repercussions.”
One curious document in Solzhenitsyn’s file concerns syndicated columnist Jack Anderson. According to the memo written before Solzhenitsyn left the Soviet Union, Anderson claimed that the U.S. government was harassing him in the “same manner that the Soviets are harassing Alexander Solzhenitsyn.”
Anderson “claims that ‘government gumshoes’ have staked out his house, kept it under surveillance through binoculars, and surveilled Anderson wherever he goes. Anderson claims the license numbers on these cars have been traced to the FBI.
“He also claims that the FBI has prepared ‘a thick dossier’ on him which is full of raw, unconfirmed allegations . . . He says this campaign resembles the Soviet harassment of Solzhenitsyn ‘for the same crime of criticizing the government.’”
Under the heading “Observations,” the memo writer wryly stated: “It is obvious that the accuracy of Anderson’s reporting has not improved. We have not, of course, had him under investigation, nor have any Bureau cars had him as the subject of surveillance.
“As usual, Anderson is grasping at anything, fact or fiction, to attract attention, this time apparently in the belief that he belongs to the same company as a writer of the stature of Solzhenitsyn.”
Solzhenitsyn’s FOIA file contains no documents dated later than January 1983. He returned to Russia in 1994.
3. Obama’s Economic Advisory Board Packed with Donors
President Barack Obama’s newly appointed Economic Recovery Advisory Board includes members who could likely have benefitted from economic advice themselves.
One is Penny Pritzker, founder of Pritzker Realty Group, whose Chicago-area bank was shut down after it invested heavily in subprime mortgage loans. The Office of Thrift Supervision closed Superior Bank and its 18 branch offices in July 2001 after the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said its financial situation had “rapidly deteriorated.”
A sharp rise in defaults by borrowers with subprime mortgages is blamed in large part for the recent economic meltdown.
Another member of Obama’s board is Jeffrey Immelt, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of General Electric Co., whose shares recently fell to an 18-year low amid anxiety over a possible downgrade for the firm’s credit worthiness.
But most troubling perhaps is the fact that 11 of the board’s members donated or raised significant amounts of money for Obama and Democrats in the last election, The Washington Times reported exclusively on Thursday.
Obama described members of the Economic Recovery Advisory Board as “distinguished citizens outside the government” who would “bring a diverse set of perspectives and voices from different parts of the country and different sectors of the economy to bear in the formulation and evaluation of economic policy.”
But Craig Holman, legislative director for Public Citizen, a nonpartisan watchdog group, told the Times: “It is distressing to see the president turning to his heavy finance hitters as consultants.”
Board member Mark Gallogly, director of Dana Holding Corp., bundled $200,000 in donations for Obama, and Pritzker — with an estimated worth of $2 billion — raised $200,000.
Member Robert Wolf, president and chief operating officer of the American arm of UBS Investment Bank, raised $500,000 for Obama. The Swiss-based bank is now at the center of a tax evasion investigation by the Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service.
A Senate committee is seeking to force the bank to release its list of American clients suspected of using offshore accounts to avoid U.S. taxes.
Eleven of the board’s 16 members personally donated a total of $262,698 to Obama and other Democrats during the 2008 election campaign, according to the Times. The AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union,
which are both represented on the board, accounted for $3.6 million in donations.
The AFL-CIO’s representative, the organization’s secretary-treasurer, Richard Trumka, was involved in a Clinton-era federal probe into a money-laundering scheme.
According to court documents, Trumka helped divert $150,000 in union funds to Teamsters President Ron Carey’s 1996 re-election campaign through a liberal consumer-advocacy group.
Trumka invoked his Fifth Amendment rights and refused to testify before a federal grand jury and a House subcommittee.
Obama’s advisory board is headed by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, and his staff director is economist Austan Goolsbee — who in March 2007 wrote a New York Times article defending subprime mortgages.
4. Chinese Spies Infiltrating U.S. Businesses
The Federal Bureau of Investigation believes that Chinese agents are increasingly infiltrating and spying on American businesses.
“The feds estimate that there are more than 2,600 Chinese front companies in the U.S.,” according to Jim Kouri, vice president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. “The foreign intelligence threat within the United States is far more complex than it has ever been historically.
“Intelligence collection is no longer limited to classified national defense information but now includes targeting of the elements of national power, including our national economic interests.”
The Insider Report in late 2007 quoted from a document issued by the Maldon Institute think tank, which stated that the FBI believes that the “real job” of Chinese front companies in the U.S. “is to direct espionage efforts. Then there are thousands of Chinese visitors, students, and business people. How many of them have tasks to perform for Beijing’s Ministry of State Security?”
The Maldon Institute reported that the Chinese had stolen $24 billion worth of secrets over a three-year period, and that many of these items enabled China to accelerate its space program.
Kouri, writing on the Family Security Matters Web site, said that in order to meet these challenges, “the Foreign Counterintelligence Program is being redesigned to become more nationally focused and directed . . .
“The FBI has a major role in identifying threats to Critical National Assets and assessing their overall vulnerability, especially in the areas of economic espionage, academic research, and private sector research and development . . .
“Critical National Assets are any information, policies, plans, technologies, or industries that, if stolen, modified, or manipulated by an adversary, would seriously threaten U.S. national or economic security.”
5. Obama Uses Code Language for Blacks
Barack Obama has made subtle use of expressions that resonate with black listeners — and only black listeners.
In January remarks about the economy, for example, Obama referred to “American dreams that are being deferred,” a statement that many blacks knew could be attributed to black poet Langston Hughes.
Politico.com also cited the example of Obama’s speech on election night, when he vowed that “we as a people will get there,” echoing Martin Luther King Jr.
And last year when Obama sought to dispel rumors that he is Muslim, he told an audience in South Carolina, “They try to bamboozle you, hoodwink you.”
“All of us knew that he was referencing Malcolm X, and when he said it, the reaction was instantaneous,” said William Jelani Cobb, a professor at Spelman College in Atlanta who specializes in black history and politics.
A video that became an Internet hit showed Obama visiting a restaurant in Washington, D.C., popular with African-Americans. Asked by a cashier if he wanted his change, Obama said, “Nah, we straight.”
Many blacks “got a kick out of their Harvard-educated president sounding, as one commenter wrote on a hip-hop site, ‘mad cool,’” Nia-Malika Henderson observed on Politico.
And at a recent basketball game between the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards at D.C.’s Verizon Center, Bulls fan Obama reportedly was “talking trash” with a Wizards fan seated nearby.
Linguist John McWhorter of the Manhattan Institute believes Obama’s use of “coded messaging” is partly conscious because “he knows it arouses black audiences.”
Obama is not the only black politician to go that route. Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, recently used the term “bling-bling” to describe the stimulus package.
6. Kasparov: Putin Regime ‘Teetering Toward Collapse’
The Russian economy is collapsing after “years of criminal mismanagement” and the regime of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin could be doomed, according to Russian dissident Garry Kasparov.
The former world chess champion, who was a candidate in the 2008 Russian presidential race, wrote in an opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal that “there is ample evidence suggesting that the Putin regime is teetering toward collapse. One sign: Russia is beefing up its federal security forces in order to violently repress public protests.”
Those protests are increasing in Russia because “many voters didn't care that their elections were rigged until inflation started squeezing them,” said Kasparov, leader of The Other Russia, an anti-Putin coalition. “Time has run out on the illusion of economic prosperity for the average Russian.”
The Russian National Welfare Fund, which was created to back up the state pension system, is being “raided” to prop up monopolistic industries belonging to Putin's closest allies, and that money is going to service debt instead of developing industry, according to Kasparov.
He noted that Russia recently agreed to a deal with China to send Russian oil to China at rock-bottom prices for 20 years in exchange for $25 billion in loans, and observed: “Powerful countries don't cut such deals unless they are desperate for cash. What's happening in Russia is that we are witnessing the survival gambit of a corrupt regime. The question is whether the West will bail out the Russian dictatorship or let it fall.”
Kasparov added that Putin relies heavily on oil revenues to maintain his grip on power, so “it is in his interest to increase tensions in the Middle East as a way of driving up global oil prices. There is no deal the U.S. can cut to stop Putin's Russia from arming Mideast terrorists and helping Iran's nuclear program.”
Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was also highly critical of Putin in a recent interview, likening his United Russia party to the worst of the communists he once led and helped bring down, and saying Russia is now a country where the parliament and the judiciary are not fully free.
7. We Heard . . .
THAT the Appeal of Conscience Foundation is honoring British Prime Minister Gordon Brown with its 2009 World Statesman Award.
Rabbi Arthur Schneier, president of the foundation, and its vice president, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, announced Brown’s selection at the residence of the British ambassador to the U.S. on Tuesday, shortly before Brown met with Barack Obama at the White House.
The foundation cited Brown “for his compassionate leadership in dealing with the challenging issues facing humanity, and for his commitment to freedom, human dignity and the environment, and for the major role he has played in helping to stabilize the world’s financial system.”
The Appeal of Conscience Foundation was founded in 1965 to work on behalf of religious freedom, human rights, and tolerance around the world.
Previous winners of its World Statesman Award include French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
THAT Republican Sen. James Inhofe’s staff made a remarkable error in issuing a press release attacking an amendment by Sen. Dick Durbin that encourages “diversity in communication media ownership.”
The press release identified Durbin as a Republican — “R-Ill.”
In fact, Durbin is the Democratic Party whip in the Senate.
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