Obama’s Intelligence Blunder

In a series of events that were disturbing to Jewish Americans, especially those of us who backed Obama, an intensely anti-Israel partisan named Charles W. Freeman, Jr. was nominated to, ran into controversy over, and yesterday finally withdrew from, consideration for one of our nation’s most sensitive intelligence posts.

Freeman bitterly and arrogantly blasted Israel and its supporters on his way out just as he has so many times in the past, and the press chalked it up to a victory for the “Israel lobby.”

But there is more to it than this, and there is good cause for all Americans to be concerned. Freeman’s own think tank was funded by the Saudi royal family, since his behavior in the past as U.S. ambassador to, and later as an informal lobbyist for, that backward and autocratic kingdom was so gratifying to its rulers.

He also had until very recently strong financial ties to China and wrote things that many interpreted as justifying China’s brutal crackdowns on the Tienanmin Square protests in 1989 and on the Tibet protests last year.

Whether these writings were misinterpreted is debatable, but there is every reason to believe that his financial ties have made him soft on the Chinese communist dictatorship just as he has been toward the Saudi regime, well known to be an exporter of extremist forms of Islamic belief and “education”—not to mention the source of fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 terrorists.

Bear in mind that Freeman was not being proposed as an ambassador to one of these countries or as an assistant secretary of state for the Far East. He was to become Chairman of the National Intelligence Council, one step below the director of national intelligence, Dennis Blair, who still unaccountably defends his choice of Freeman.

Freeman’s past experience in the field of intelligence? None.

Thus we were expected to accept as a top intelligence official, whose main responsibility would be to sift intelligence from all over the world and present his objective findings to President Obama,  a man who not only consistently and irately opposes Israel, but who has for many years had financial ties  the Saudi royal family and the Chinese communist rulers, and who to top it off has no intelligence experience.

The people in the Obama White House did not even bother to push back on this appointment as the outrage against it grew. Who is minding the store there? It’s one thing to have nominated tax-evaders for economically sensitive cabinet posts, and be forced to withdraw them in a humiliating way that exposed an embarrassingly weak vetting process.

It’s quite another to hand one of the nation’s most important intelligence roles to someone who not only could not be objective, being an outspoken opponent of Israel and a friend of Saudi Arabia and China, but also someone with no relevant intelligence work on his resumé.

This move rivals the Bush administration’s appointment of “Brownie,” the former Arabian horse expert, to head FEMA. If Freeman had not been stopped, we might well have had the equivalent of the post-Katrina debacle, only this time in the national security equivalent of a category 5 hurricane, broken levees and all.

Freeman’s fall was a narrow escape for the nation, and it leaves me wondering whether Jewish Americans will live to regret our overwhelming support for Obama. He and his people have to do better than this.