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Memo To Obama: Bring Back Chas Freeman

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"... As soon as the appointment was announced, a bevy of allegedly "pro-Israel" pundits leapt to attack it, in what The Nation's Robert Dreyfuss called a "thunderous, coordinated assault."  

"Freeman's critics were the usual suspects: Jonathan Chait of the  New Republic, Michael Goldfarb at the Weekly Standard, Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic, Gabriel Schoenfeld (writing on the op-ed page of the  Wall Street Journal), Jonah Goldberg of National Review, Marty Peretz on his New Republic blog, and former AIPAC official Steve Rosen (yes, the same guy who is now on trial for passing classified U.S. government information to Israel) ...

"Among Freeman's 'past crimes,' according to his opponents, was that he served as an able and respected US ambassador to Saudi Arabia where he developed a good relationship with the ruling family. Along with many other non-profit American foundations, a foundation on whose board he sits, has received donations from the Saudi government. Good for the Saudis for plowing back oil profits into good causes in the country which buys so much Saudi oil.

Just for the record, in the unlikely event Mitt Romney is elected president, remember the names cited by Walt above.  They will be leading the media vanguard of the neoconservatives who will be riding herd on Middle East policy in a Romney White House. A Romney campaign that was run on outright lies (check the record) will not hesitate to develop a foreign policy strategy that ties U.S. "security" to that of Israel's "security."

Of course, the Freeman story has the inevitable ending. The Obama team left Freeman to spin in the heat and fury of the Israel Lobby attacks. There was no public indication of support from the White House.

On March 10, 2009, Freeman withdrew his name from consideration. He did not, however, go quietly. This is what he said to Laura Rozen's The Cable  blog   when he announced his withdrawal from the appointment:

"I have concluded that the barrage of libelous distortions of my record would not cease upon my entry into office. The effort to smear me and to destroy my credibility would instead continue. I do not believe the National Intelligence Council could function effectively while its chair was under constant attack by unscrupulous people with a passionate attachment to the views of a political faction in a foreign country."

After Freeman withdrew his name, once again the mainstream media failed to point to the Israel Lobby's role in unfairly smearing a presidential appointee. The blogosphere, however, was quick to take notice.

Ben Smith named names when he wrote in Politico:

"[T]he attacks on Freeman, in the end, hinged primarily on the question of Israel, something the Democratic senators who helped break the back of the nomination Tuesday made clear.

"'His statements against Israel were way over the top and severely out of step with the administration,' said Senator Chuck Schumer in a statement. 'I repeatedly urged the White House to reject him, and I am glad they did the right thing.'

"Hours before the Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, expressed his 'regret' at Freeman's withdrawal, Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) told Blair he was concerned about 'statements that [Freeman]'s made that appear either to be inclined to lean against Israel or too much in favor of China.'

"In particular, Freeman has described "Israeli violence against Palestinians" as a key barrier to Mideast peace. ..."

Which is why, assuming President Obama is reelected, he has an opportunity to rectify a wrong from his first term... He should bring back Chas Freeman to a position in his administration. Freeman has not lost any of his passion nor has he lost his ability to express that passion in the measured tones of a veteran diplomat.

On October 25, 2012, two weeks before the presidential election, Freeman delivered an address which he called, Change Without Progress in the Middle East, to the National Council on U.S. Arab Relations Policymakers Conference:

In his diplomatic realist style, Freeman presented a point of view to the Conference that must be heard inside the White House when a reelected Barack Obama enters his second term, determined to resolve issues he did not resolve in his first four years in office. The speech covered the entire region. This is what he said about Israel and the territory of Palestine:

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James Wall served as a Contributing Editor of The Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, Illinois, from 1999 through 2017. From 1972 through 1999, he was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine. Many sources have influenced (more...)

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