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Posts For: March 14, 2009

The “Lieberman Lobby”

In his exit interview with the Nation‘s Robert Dreyfuss, Chas Freeman recanted his earlier claim that the “Israel Lobby” had jettisoned his appointment to chair the National Intelligence Council (NIC).  Rather, claimed Freeman, it was the “Lieberman Lobby”:

The only thing I regret is that in my statement I embraced the term ‘Israel lobby.’ This isn’t really a lobby by, for or about Israel. It’s really, well, I’ve decided I’m going to call it from now on the [Avigdor] Lieberman lobby. It’s the very right-wing Likud in Israel and its fanatic supporters here. And Avigdor Lieberman is really the guy that they really agree with. And I think they’re doing Israel in.

Never mind that the key bones of contention that scuttled Freeman’s appointment were his ties to the Saudi and Chinese governments – something that neither Freeman nor his supporters are particularly interested in addressing.  Never mind that none of Freeman’s supposedly influential detractors in the blogosphere – at least to my knowledge – ever voiced support for Avigdor Lieberman.  And never mind that Avigdor Lieberman isn’t even a member of the Likud party, and hasn’t been part of the “right-wing Likud in Israel” for a decade.

Ultimately, Freeman deserves credit for one thing: he knows his audience and gives them exactly what they want – a new catchphrase for vilifying those who support a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.  This is the sort of skill that makes him a talented, well-paid proponent of official Saudi positions in our nation’s capital.  It is also the sort of skill that would have made him a wholly untrustworthy chairman for the NIC.

In his exit interview with the Nation‘s Robert Dreyfuss, Chas Freeman recanted his earlier claim that the “Israel Lobby” had jettisoned his appointment to chair the National Intelligence Council (NIC).  Rather, claimed Freeman, it was the “Lieberman Lobby”:

The only thing I regret is that in my statement I embraced the term ‘Israel lobby.’ This isn’t really a lobby by, for or about Israel. It’s really, well, I’ve decided I’m going to call it from now on the [Avigdor] Lieberman lobby. It’s the very right-wing Likud in Israel and its fanatic supporters here. And Avigdor Lieberman is really the guy that they really agree with. And I think they’re doing Israel in.

Never mind that the key bones of contention that scuttled Freeman’s appointment were his ties to the Saudi and Chinese governments – something that neither Freeman nor his supporters are particularly interested in addressing.  Never mind that none of Freeman’s supposedly influential detractors in the blogosphere – at least to my knowledge – ever voiced support for Avigdor Lieberman.  And never mind that Avigdor Lieberman isn’t even a member of the Likud party, and hasn’t been part of the “right-wing Likud in Israel” for a decade.

Ultimately, Freeman deserves credit for one thing: he knows his audience and gives them exactly what they want – a new catchphrase for vilifying those who support a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.  This is the sort of skill that makes him a talented, well-paid proponent of official Saudi positions in our nation’s capital.  It is also the sort of skill that would have made him a wholly untrustworthy chairman for the NIC.

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What’s Wrong with Blair?

Newsweek has decided to go back into the news business. The rest of the mainstream media show little if any interest in examining how Chas Freeman came to be appointed. But, sure enough, a decision this bad appears not to be an isolated incident. Newsweek reports:

Now both Republican and Democratic intel experts are raising questions about another Blair pick: John Deutch, a former CIA director once accused of major security lapses, who’s been appointed to a temporary panel reviewing troubled, top-secret spy-satellite programs.

Yes, this was the same Deutch who “stored hundreds of pages of classified files on his home computers, despite repeated warnings that they could be intercepted via the Internet” and thereby lost his top secret clearance.

This leads to the real issue at the heart of the Freeman matter: what is wrong with Admiral Dennis Blair? It is one thing to make an uninformed and unwise choice, but it is quite another not to recognize the error of your ways and then dig in your heels in a Congressional hearing. Outside critics are not alone in worrying about Blair’s fitness:

Congressional critics, including some Democrats, say the two appointments illustrate Blair’s tin ear. As he vigorously defended Freeman, Blair also downplayed evidence of substantial financial ties between the Middle East Policy Council, a think tank Freeman used to run, and Saudi interests. Blair had told Congress that “no more than one 12th” of the council’s $600,000 budget came from the Saudi government. But Freeman told NEWSWEEK that the council had also received a $1 million endowment from Saudi King Abdullah in 2005, plus another $1 million pledge for operating support from Saudi Prince Al Wahleed.

(So did Freeman, or Blair, or both misrepresent the extent of Freeman’s financial conflict of interest?)

Obama, having no executive experience himself, was thought to be putting together an all-star team. But Blair is now joining Tim Geithner (and perhaps others) who are showing themselves to be lacking the skills and judgment needed to lead in perilous times. If the president is unwilling or unable to do something about it, Congress should step up to the plate. That’s what Congressional oversight is all about.

Newsweek has decided to go back into the news business. The rest of the mainstream media show little if any interest in examining how Chas Freeman came to be appointed. But, sure enough, a decision this bad appears not to be an isolated incident. Newsweek reports:

Now both Republican and Democratic intel experts are raising questions about another Blair pick: John Deutch, a former CIA director once accused of major security lapses, who’s been appointed to a temporary panel reviewing troubled, top-secret spy-satellite programs.

Yes, this was the same Deutch who “stored hundreds of pages of classified files on his home computers, despite repeated warnings that they could be intercepted via the Internet” and thereby lost his top secret clearance.

This leads to the real issue at the heart of the Freeman matter: what is wrong with Admiral Dennis Blair? It is one thing to make an uninformed and unwise choice, but it is quite another not to recognize the error of your ways and then dig in your heels in a Congressional hearing. Outside critics are not alone in worrying about Blair’s fitness:

Congressional critics, including some Democrats, say the two appointments illustrate Blair’s tin ear. As he vigorously defended Freeman, Blair also downplayed evidence of substantial financial ties between the Middle East Policy Council, a think tank Freeman used to run, and Saudi interests. Blair had told Congress that “no more than one 12th” of the council’s $600,000 budget came from the Saudi government. But Freeman told NEWSWEEK that the council had also received a $1 million endowment from Saudi King Abdullah in 2005, plus another $1 million pledge for operating support from Saudi Prince Al Wahleed.

(So did Freeman, or Blair, or both misrepresent the extent of Freeman’s financial conflict of interest?)

Obama, having no executive experience himself, was thought to be putting together an all-star team. But Blair is now joining Tim Geithner (and perhaps others) who are showing themselves to be lacking the skills and judgment needed to lead in perilous times. If the president is unwilling or unable to do something about it, Congress should step up to the plate. That’s what Congressional oversight is all about.

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What Talking to Iran Means to Iran

During his two years on the campaign trail and first two months in the White House, President Barack Obama has repeatedly called for initiating talks with Iran, thereby reversing Washington’s three-decades-old policy of boycotting Tehran.  Throughout, Obama’s principle has been that we don’t achieve anything by not talking to our enemies – a philosophy that has always seemed more apt for the schoolyard than for foreign affairs.  In turn, Obama has failed to address the more important question as far as diplomacy is concerned: what will we gain from speaking with Iran?

Well, apparently Iran has some ideas on this matter.  Back in late January, Iranian government spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham argued that U.S.-Iranian engagement would indicate that “Western ideology has become passive, that capitalist thought and the system of domination have failed.”  Yesterday, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah – an Iranian proxy – echoed Elham, declaring:

The United States is ready now to talk with any party, not out of a sense of morality, but because it failed in its attempts to implement its plans in the region.  It failed in its plan to conduct regime change in Syria and it failed in stopping Iran.

In short, from the moment Air Force One departs from Andrews Air Force Base to wherever these talks between Obama and Iranian leaders are held, Iran – and its millions of anti-western sympathizers throughout the Middle East – will see a weakened America.  This is hardly the position from which a U.S. President convinces a radical, regionally ascendant regime to abort its nuclear program.

During his two years on the campaign trail and first two months in the White House, President Barack Obama has repeatedly called for initiating talks with Iran, thereby reversing Washington’s three-decades-old policy of boycotting Tehran.  Throughout, Obama’s principle has been that we don’t achieve anything by not talking to our enemies – a philosophy that has always seemed more apt for the schoolyard than for foreign affairs.  In turn, Obama has failed to address the more important question as far as diplomacy is concerned: what will we gain from speaking with Iran?

Well, apparently Iran has some ideas on this matter.  Back in late January, Iranian government spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham argued that U.S.-Iranian engagement would indicate that “Western ideology has become passive, that capitalist thought and the system of domination have failed.”  Yesterday, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah – an Iranian proxy – echoed Elham, declaring:

The United States is ready now to talk with any party, not out of a sense of morality, but because it failed in its attempts to implement its plans in the region.  It failed in its plan to conduct regime change in Syria and it failed in stopping Iran.

In short, from the moment Air Force One departs from Andrews Air Force Base to wherever these talks between Obama and Iranian leaders are held, Iran – and its millions of anti-western sympathizers throughout the Middle East – will see a weakened America.  This is hardly the position from which a U.S. President convinces a radical, regionally ascendant regime to abort its nuclear program.

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Re: They Did What?

Andy Stern, the head of the SEIU — which has been embroiled in multiple scandals and played a supporting role in the Blago affair — is following on the heels of the AFL-CIO’s proposal to Sen. Arlen Specter — what Mickey Kaus dubs the “offer he can’t refuse.” Have they got a deal for Sen. Arlen Specter! He votes for card check and SEIU will support him in 2010.

You really do have to give the Democrats a lot of credit. Their Big Labor allies start publicly enticing a U.S. Senator to cast a vote for a special interest favor and the same day the Senate Judiciary Committee votes out  Senate Bill 49 to expand the tools for prosecutors to go after public corruption.

Perhaps, for now, we could all agree: it is entirely inappropriate and unseemly for labor unions (or any special interest group) to declare that their support (and the huge financing that goes along with it) for a candidate or official turns on a single vote. People might get the idea they are trying to buy a vote. And that would be very,very wrong.

Andy Stern, the head of the SEIU — which has been embroiled in multiple scandals and played a supporting role in the Blago affair — is following on the heels of the AFL-CIO’s proposal to Sen. Arlen Specter — what Mickey Kaus dubs the “offer he can’t refuse.” Have they got a deal for Sen. Arlen Specter! He votes for card check and SEIU will support him in 2010.

You really do have to give the Democrats a lot of credit. Their Big Labor allies start publicly enticing a U.S. Senator to cast a vote for a special interest favor and the same day the Senate Judiciary Committee votes out  Senate Bill 49 to expand the tools for prosecutors to go after public corruption.

Perhaps, for now, we could all agree: it is entirely inappropriate and unseemly for labor unions (or any special interest group) to declare that their support (and the huge financing that goes along with it) for a candidate or official turns on a single vote. People might get the idea they are trying to buy a vote. And that would be very,very wrong.

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Bibi Says No To Linkage

Broadly speaking, there are two schools of thought on the Israeli-Arab conflict. The traditional State Department/Arabist/Leftist approach holds that the ongoing statelessness of the Palestinians is a profound burden on the consciences of Arabs everywhere and the inspiration for radicalism in the region. Thus, the first step in tempering the restiveness of the Middle East is to address the Palestinian problem. Solve this, says everyone from Zbigniew Brzezinski to European diplomats to Arab autocrats, and the solutions to most other conundrums in the Middle East will come into view.

The competing school holds that, to the extent Arab radicalism is shaped by current events — this is a big qualifier — it is intentionally fomented by regional factions for whom unrest, violence, and dissatisfaction serve strategic purposes. There are good reasons, in other words, why Iran and Syria support Hezbollah and Hamas, one of which is the capacity of these groups to keep America and Israel mired in diplomatic failure. (Martin Kramer has written at length on this “myth of linkage.”)

Uzi Arad is expected to be Netanyahu’s national security adviser, and in an interview with Reuters he said the following:

“No one in his right mind would do a deal with Syria, let alone do the concessions that Mr. Olmert alluded to, if it remained aligned with Iran. It would just bring Iran closer to us,” Arad told Reuters…. “The more Iran becomes strong, the closer it gets to nuclear weapons, the more terrified the moderates in the Arab world and the Palestinian people become, and the more emboldened the radicals and the extremists are,” Arad said. “So whichever way you look at it the order of priority is: blunt Iran first, move vigorously on peace after, and based on that. Should you act in the wrong order…you will have a sterile, perhaps failed process with the Palestinians and at the same time you will end up with a nuclear Iran.”

Translation: radicalism makes addressing the Palestinian problem impossible, not the other way around. The first obligation of strategists, before considerations of ideology or interests, is to accurately perceive reality, and then allow priorities to derive from that assessment.

Broadly speaking, there are two schools of thought on the Israeli-Arab conflict. The traditional State Department/Arabist/Leftist approach holds that the ongoing statelessness of the Palestinians is a profound burden on the consciences of Arabs everywhere and the inspiration for radicalism in the region. Thus, the first step in tempering the restiveness of the Middle East is to address the Palestinian problem. Solve this, says everyone from Zbigniew Brzezinski to European diplomats to Arab autocrats, and the solutions to most other conundrums in the Middle East will come into view.

The competing school holds that, to the extent Arab radicalism is shaped by current events — this is a big qualifier — it is intentionally fomented by regional factions for whom unrest, violence, and dissatisfaction serve strategic purposes. There are good reasons, in other words, why Iran and Syria support Hezbollah and Hamas, one of which is the capacity of these groups to keep America and Israel mired in diplomatic failure. (Martin Kramer has written at length on this “myth of linkage.”)

Uzi Arad is expected to be Netanyahu’s national security adviser, and in an interview with Reuters he said the following:

“No one in his right mind would do a deal with Syria, let alone do the concessions that Mr. Olmert alluded to, if it remained aligned with Iran. It would just bring Iran closer to us,” Arad told Reuters…. “The more Iran becomes strong, the closer it gets to nuclear weapons, the more terrified the moderates in the Arab world and the Palestinian people become, and the more emboldened the radicals and the extremists are,” Arad said. “So whichever way you look at it the order of priority is: blunt Iran first, move vigorously on peace after, and based on that. Should you act in the wrong order…you will have a sterile, perhaps failed process with the Palestinians and at the same time you will end up with a nuclear Iran.”

Translation: radicalism makes addressing the Palestinian problem impossible, not the other way around. The first obligation of strategists, before considerations of ideology or interests, is to accurately perceive reality, and then allow priorities to derive from that assessment.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Card check is becoming a prominent issue in the Virginia gubernatorial race. “While card check may not be a question for governors directly to resolve, a state politician’s approach to it still says important things about philosophy, temperament, and, perhaps, character.” So far the Republican candidate opposes it and the three Democratic contenders “thus far are performing a high-wire act worthy of the Wallendas.”

Big Labor continues to fight against itself. Must have picked up the GOP playbook by mistake.

The New York Post doesn’t think Chas Freeman’s departure should end the matter: “It’s hard to imagine anyone less appropriate to head the NIC, which produces influential intelligence reports. If key Obama underlings like Blair can’t see that, then there’s cause for real concern.”

Wes Pruden’s got it: “What really bugs Mr. Freeman and his friends is that he was recognized for who he is.”

I saw the headline “Geithner needs to lure hungry investors” and my first thought was, “Resign?”

The Fox Rountable on Geithner: “The markets have been trained to look to the treasury secretary for confidence. And we’ve seen — frankly, we have seen Secretary Geithner shrink in stature, as witnessed by the ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit last Saturday where he was portrayed to offering $400 billion for anyone who can come up with a solution to this crisis.” Read the whole thing. And then try to come up with a reason why Geithner shouldn’t be replaced.

Robert Reich is brutal: “You may not want to hear this, but your Treasury Secretary is making things worse. His dithering on what to do about Wall Street, and his incapacity to speak clearly to the Street and to the public about what needs to be done, is spooking everyone. Why doesn’t he just put the irrevocably insolvent banks into receivership under the FDIC, sell off their assets, protect depositors, and reimburse taxpayers with whatever remains? Let the rest of the banks fend for themselves — working out their bad loans with their creditors. As to AIG, well, that’s a complete basketcase. Put it out of its suffering. Take it over, sell its assets, protect policy holders (you’ll need to create a big co-insurance plan with every other major insurer in the world), then get out.” (h/t Jake Tapper) And he sounds awfully conservative.

Who says Sen. Mitch McConnell doesn’t have a wicked sense of humor: “‘I want to compliment the president on how he has handled both Iraq and Afghanistan,’ Sen. McConnell told reporters on Friday.’We had a briefing the day before his Iraq announcement and I felt I was still sitting around with the previous administration,’ McConnell said, describing a briefing President Obama and his national security team gave Congressional leaders two weeks ago. ‘The president was basically, from my point of view, it struck me, announcing a continuation of the policy in Iraq and Afghanistan.’” The report does not say whether the Senator strolled back to his office, shared a good laugh with staff, and expressed his delight in causing the netroots another bout of heartburn.

Michael Barone lets the cat out of the bag: “We did not have a housing bubble collapse because we don’t have a national health insurance program. We don’t have toxic waste clogging the balance sheets of the banks and other financial institutions because of carbon emissions. The Bush tax cuts were not a proximate cause of the giant public debt being run up under the Toxic Assets Relief Program or the 2009 stimulus package.”

China is “worried” about the value of all that Treasury paper they are holding. I would be too. You simply can’t print more and more bonds without either inflating our currency to pay it off or raising interest rates to entice buyers to keep buying.

Governor David Paterson’s poll numbers are simply horrible.

Fred Barnes says Obama is right to rush since he doesn’t have a mandate for the liberal wish list: “So Obama needs to push his agenda through Congress before the public discovers what he’s up to. Time is not on his side. Moderate Democrats aren’t a tough breed, but they’ve begun to question many of Obama’s policies. They don’t strike fear in Pelosi’s heart. But if their ranks swell, they could cause trouble for her, Reid, and especially Obama.”

Card check is becoming a prominent issue in the Virginia gubernatorial race. “While card check may not be a question for governors directly to resolve, a state politician’s approach to it still says important things about philosophy, temperament, and, perhaps, character.” So far the Republican candidate opposes it and the three Democratic contenders “thus far are performing a high-wire act worthy of the Wallendas.”

Big Labor continues to fight against itself. Must have picked up the GOP playbook by mistake.

The New York Post doesn’t think Chas Freeman’s departure should end the matter: “It’s hard to imagine anyone less appropriate to head the NIC, which produces influential intelligence reports. If key Obama underlings like Blair can’t see that, then there’s cause for real concern.”

Wes Pruden’s got it: “What really bugs Mr. Freeman and his friends is that he was recognized for who he is.”

I saw the headline “Geithner needs to lure hungry investors” and my first thought was, “Resign?”

The Fox Rountable on Geithner: “The markets have been trained to look to the treasury secretary for confidence. And we’ve seen — frankly, we have seen Secretary Geithner shrink in stature, as witnessed by the ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit last Saturday where he was portrayed to offering $400 billion for anyone who can come up with a solution to this crisis.” Read the whole thing. And then try to come up with a reason why Geithner shouldn’t be replaced.

Robert Reich is brutal: “You may not want to hear this, but your Treasury Secretary is making things worse. His dithering on what to do about Wall Street, and his incapacity to speak clearly to the Street and to the public about what needs to be done, is spooking everyone. Why doesn’t he just put the irrevocably insolvent banks into receivership under the FDIC, sell off their assets, protect depositors, and reimburse taxpayers with whatever remains? Let the rest of the banks fend for themselves — working out their bad loans with their creditors. As to AIG, well, that’s a complete basketcase. Put it out of its suffering. Take it over, sell its assets, protect policy holders (you’ll need to create a big co-insurance plan with every other major insurer in the world), then get out.” (h/t Jake Tapper) And he sounds awfully conservative.

Who says Sen. Mitch McConnell doesn’t have a wicked sense of humor: “‘I want to compliment the president on how he has handled both Iraq and Afghanistan,’ Sen. McConnell told reporters on Friday.’We had a briefing the day before his Iraq announcement and I felt I was still sitting around with the previous administration,’ McConnell said, describing a briefing President Obama and his national security team gave Congressional leaders two weeks ago. ‘The president was basically, from my point of view, it struck me, announcing a continuation of the policy in Iraq and Afghanistan.’” The report does not say whether the Senator strolled back to his office, shared a good laugh with staff, and expressed his delight in causing the netroots another bout of heartburn.

Michael Barone lets the cat out of the bag: “We did not have a housing bubble collapse because we don’t have a national health insurance program. We don’t have toxic waste clogging the balance sheets of the banks and other financial institutions because of carbon emissions. The Bush tax cuts were not a proximate cause of the giant public debt being run up under the Toxic Assets Relief Program or the 2009 stimulus package.”

China is “worried” about the value of all that Treasury paper they are holding. I would be too. You simply can’t print more and more bonds without either inflating our currency to pay it off or raising interest rates to entice buyers to keep buying.

Governor David Paterson’s poll numbers are simply horrible.

Fred Barnes says Obama is right to rush since he doesn’t have a mandate for the liberal wish list: “So Obama needs to push his agenda through Congress before the public discovers what he’s up to. Time is not on his side. Moderate Democrats aren’t a tough breed, but they’ve begun to question many of Obama’s policies. They don’t strike fear in Pelosi’s heart. But if their ranks swell, they could cause trouble for her, Reid, and especially Obama.”

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Bad Outsourcing

For a long time, the Democrats have opposed outsourcing government functions to the private sector. But they’ve found one thing they think the private sector can do better than the federal government  — and they’re horribly wrong. They want to wounded veterans to pay for service-related treatment with pricate insurance.

Currently, veterans with service-related injuries and private insurance have their insurance charged only for treatment unrelated to their military service. Under a proposal before the Obama administration that would change: the veteran’s private insurance would be charged for all treatment provided by the Veterans Administration.

Others have already denounced this plan on moral grounds — the violation of the debt of honor we owe these men and women. They were injured in service, and we are ethically obligated to do all we can to restore them, or at least care for them and ease their suffering.

This proposal is a reprehensible idea, and those members of Congress who are lining up to kill the plan are to be applauded.

For a long time, the Democrats have opposed outsourcing government functions to the private sector. But they’ve found one thing they think the private sector can do better than the federal government  — and they’re horribly wrong. They want to wounded veterans to pay for service-related treatment with pricate insurance.

Currently, veterans with service-related injuries and private insurance have their insurance charged only for treatment unrelated to their military service. Under a proposal before the Obama administration that would change: the veteran’s private insurance would be charged for all treatment provided by the Veterans Administration.

Others have already denounced this plan on moral grounds — the violation of the debt of honor we owe these men and women. They were injured in service, and we are ethically obligated to do all we can to restore them, or at least care for them and ease their suffering.

This proposal is a reprehensible idea, and those members of Congress who are lining up to kill the plan are to be applauded.

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All the News That’s Fit to Print in the Opinion Section

Congressman Frank Wolf is afforded space in the opinion pages of the Washington Post — where one needs to go for reported facts — to explain why he was instrumental in provoking the withdrawal of Chas Freeman. It wasn’t the Jewish blogosphere or AIPAC, as the Post’s Walter Pincus seemed to believe, (without ever actually investigating). And it wasn’t the “Israel-centric fanatics” the category in which  Glenn Greenwald places Chief of Staff in Rahm Emanuel.

Wolf explains:

For almost four years, Freeman served on the advisory board of the China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC), receiving $10,000 a year for his service. The communist government of China, along with other state-owned companies, are majority stakeholders in CNOOC. Yet Freeman claims that he never received money from a foreign government. The connection may not be direct, but it is certainly there. The same can be said of the paycheck he received from the Middle East Policy Council, which received ample funding from the kingdom of Saudi Arabia — whose regime is responsible for funding madrassas around the globe that have given rise to Islamic fundamentalists such as Mohammad Omar, leader of the Taliban.

.  .   .

On top of all this, Freeman gave a speech at the National War College Alumni Association last April 25 in which he described the uprisings in Tibet the previous month as “race riots.” A year after those uprisings, 1,200 Tibetan protesters remain missing.

And that wasn’t all:

Equally disturbing to me was Freeman’s take on the events at Tiananmen Square in 1989, as he wrote in an e-mail that has been reported by the media. While the Obama administration claimed that Freeman’s comments were taken out of context, I had the opportunity to read the entire conversation, and I strongly disagree.

Freeman said, “I do not believe it is acceptable for any country to allow the heart of its national capital to be occupied by dissidents intent on disrupting the normal functions of government. . . . Such folk, whether they represent a veterans’ ‘Bonus Army’ or a ‘student uprising’ on behalf of ‘the goddess of democracy’ should expect to be displaced.” I was in China in 1991 and visited Beijing Prison No. 1, where Tiananmen protesters were enslaved, forced to make socks for export to the West, simply for seeking their freedom.

It is astounding that Walter Pincus never interviewed Wolf or asked him about this. Or if he did, he didn’t report upon it. Strange, isn’t it, that he wouldn’t go to the Freeman critics in Congress to ask to explain their objections? As a result, this was not explained to the Post readers in the “news” pages. There, it was all about the Jews.

And Wolf is not the only one doing reporting from the Opinion pages. Charles Lane fills us in on the White House’s nervous ducking of the issue and the bind Obama’s staff is now in due to Freeman’s accusation that they were flunkies of the Jewish Lobby. Lane tells us:

Asked on Tuesday whether Obama agreed that Freeman was “unfairly driven out,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said he hadn’t talked to the president about it and left the briefing room. When I contacted the White House press office on Friday, a spokesman e-mailed back that they “don’t have anything additional to add.”

No doubt the president faces a dilemma. I imagine that he finds Freeman’s comments repugnant, but to say so publicly would raise questions about why the man was appointed in the first place. And Obama has other things on his plate. If I were him, I’d rather deal with Citibank than dive into the nasty Freeman fight.

Perhaps the Post’s “Opinion” and “News” sections should be re-arranged. Pincus’s non-reported innuendo can go to the former and interesting reporting and fact-based analysis can go into the latter. And then Wolf and Lane can take David Broder to lunch and explain it all to him.

Congressman Frank Wolf is afforded space in the opinion pages of the Washington Post — where one needs to go for reported facts — to explain why he was instrumental in provoking the withdrawal of Chas Freeman. It wasn’t the Jewish blogosphere or AIPAC, as the Post’s Walter Pincus seemed to believe, (without ever actually investigating). And it wasn’t the “Israel-centric fanatics” the category in which  Glenn Greenwald places Chief of Staff in Rahm Emanuel.

Wolf explains:

For almost four years, Freeman served on the advisory board of the China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC), receiving $10,000 a year for his service. The communist government of China, along with other state-owned companies, are majority stakeholders in CNOOC. Yet Freeman claims that he never received money from a foreign government. The connection may not be direct, but it is certainly there. The same can be said of the paycheck he received from the Middle East Policy Council, which received ample funding from the kingdom of Saudi Arabia — whose regime is responsible for funding madrassas around the globe that have given rise to Islamic fundamentalists such as Mohammad Omar, leader of the Taliban.

.  .   .

On top of all this, Freeman gave a speech at the National War College Alumni Association last April 25 in which he described the uprisings in Tibet the previous month as “race riots.” A year after those uprisings, 1,200 Tibetan protesters remain missing.

And that wasn’t all:

Equally disturbing to me was Freeman’s take on the events at Tiananmen Square in 1989, as he wrote in an e-mail that has been reported by the media. While the Obama administration claimed that Freeman’s comments were taken out of context, I had the opportunity to read the entire conversation, and I strongly disagree.

Freeman said, “I do not believe it is acceptable for any country to allow the heart of its national capital to be occupied by dissidents intent on disrupting the normal functions of government. . . . Such folk, whether they represent a veterans’ ‘Bonus Army’ or a ‘student uprising’ on behalf of ‘the goddess of democracy’ should expect to be displaced.” I was in China in 1991 and visited Beijing Prison No. 1, where Tiananmen protesters were enslaved, forced to make socks for export to the West, simply for seeking their freedom.

It is astounding that Walter Pincus never interviewed Wolf or asked him about this. Or if he did, he didn’t report upon it. Strange, isn’t it, that he wouldn’t go to the Freeman critics in Congress to ask to explain their objections? As a result, this was not explained to the Post readers in the “news” pages. There, it was all about the Jews.

And Wolf is not the only one doing reporting from the Opinion pages. Charles Lane fills us in on the White House’s nervous ducking of the issue and the bind Obama’s staff is now in due to Freeman’s accusation that they were flunkies of the Jewish Lobby. Lane tells us:

Asked on Tuesday whether Obama agreed that Freeman was “unfairly driven out,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said he hadn’t talked to the president about it and left the briefing room. When I contacted the White House press office on Friday, a spokesman e-mailed back that they “don’t have anything additional to add.”

No doubt the president faces a dilemma. I imagine that he finds Freeman’s comments repugnant, but to say so publicly would raise questions about why the man was appointed in the first place. And Obama has other things on his plate. If I were him, I’d rather deal with Citibank than dive into the nasty Freeman fight.

Perhaps the Post’s “Opinion” and “News” sections should be re-arranged. Pincus’s non-reported innuendo can go to the former and interesting reporting and fact-based analysis can go into the latter. And then Wolf and Lane can take David Broder to lunch and explain it all to him.

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