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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.


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