Commentary Magazine


Freeman NOW Gets Vetted?

Eli Lake reports that Chas Freeman is indeed to be investigated by the Inspector General. At issue are his ties the to China National Offshore Oil Corp, in which the Chinese government has a majority stake, and his role as president of the Middle East Policy Council (MEPC), which is in part Saudi-funded. And not surprisingly, the backpedaling has already begun:

Mr. Freeman has not submitted the financial disclosure forms required of all candidates for senior public positions, according to the general counsel’s office of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Nor did Mr. Blair seek the White House’s approval before he announced the appointment of Mr. Freeman, said Mr. Blair’s spokeswoman, Wendy Morigi.

“The director did not seek the White House’s approval,” Ms. Morigi said. “In addition to his formal background security investigation, we expect that the White House will undertake the typical vetting associated with senior administration assignments.”

All the easier to dump him then, perhaps. And how is it possible that a key position was filled without completing these steps? Lake reports: “Three former NIC chairmen and one former vice chairman told The Washington Times that Mr. Freeman’s business ties to China, Saudi Arabia and other nations should be vetted before Mr. Freeman takes his post.” But this was, bizarrely, not done before Freeman was appointed, we are now told.

And it is becoming increasingly difficult for the administration’s apologists to maintain that this is all a right-wing, pro-Israel plot to get Freeman . We have voices as diverse as a former deputy chairman of the NIC ( “Can you imagine if I had stood up and explained away Tienanmen Square? He does not have the intellectual fire power to sort through the intelligence and reach a plausible conclusion”) and Human Rights Watch questioning the appointment.

All of this once again leads to the conclusion that there is chaos in the vetting apparatus of the Obama administration. How a position of this import could be filled without full consideration of the obvious policy and financial objections – and with the feigned or actual cluelessness of the White House — is quite simply shocking. And now that the administration has a full blown firestorm on its hands the question remains: how quickly will Freeman join Bill Richardson, Tom Daschle and the “performance czarina” under that proverbial bus?

And one final note: since nearly all of the MSM has been ignoring this story they are now in the uncomfortable position of trying to “catch up” their readers: “Well, there was this appointment, a raging debate, a dishonest denial of any awareness of the issue by the White House and congressional letters of protest — which, dear readers, we ignored — but now let us tell you about a serious vetting lapse in the intelligence community.” Once again, the mainstream media are revealed to have been carrying water for and masking the horrendous slip-ups of an administration which obviously warrants closer scrutiny.