2005-05-27

Victims of the Israel Lobby

Norman Finkelstein (this links to another post)
Charles W. Freeman, Jr.
Michael Scheuer>
Helen Thomas
Chuck Hagel
























Charles W. Freeman, Jr.

There are a large number of articles below which discuss
Freeman’s February 2009 appointment
to chair the National Intelligence Council,
the campaign against that appointment,
his withdrawal on 2009-03-10 as a result of that campaign,
and discussion of the significance of his withdrawal.
There is a lot there to read,
mostly it is there just for reference if anyone is interested.
The best summation of the significance of the affair is, not surprisingly,
by a man who himself has come under fierce attack from the lobby, Stephen Walt,
in 2009-03-11-Walt-Freeman.




2009-02-19-Rosen-Freeman
Alarming appointment at the CIA
by Steve Rosen
Middle East Forum, 2009-02-19

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

According to Laura Rozen at the Foreign Policy blog,
Chas W. Freeman, Jr., the former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia,
will become chairman of the National Intelligence Council,
and may at times participate in daily intelligence briefings to President Obama.
This is a profoundly disturbing appointment, if the report is correct.
Freeman is a strident critic of Israel,
and a textbook case of the old-line Arabism
that afflicted American diplomacy at the time the state of Israel was born.
His views of the region
are what you would expect in the Saudi foreign ministry,

with which he maintains an extremely close relationship,
not the top CIA position
for analytic products going to the President of the United States.

[So?
Who can deny that most of those making U.S. policy towards the region
have views that are exactly that of the mainstream of the Israeli foreign ministry.
American Jews have made no secret of the fact that they demand
(that is the appropriate word)
that American foreign policy towards the region be set in Jerusalem
(Ann Lewis’s glaring example).
With Netanyahu their lockstep support for Israel may crack a bit,
but certainly under Sharon and Olmert
there was no allowed significant U.S. opposition to Israel.]



2009-02-20-Lobe-Freeman
Amazing Appointment — Chas Freeman as NIC Chairman
by Jim Lobe
Antiwar.com, 2009-02-20


2009-02-25-Dreyfuss-Freeman
Chas Freeman for NIC: Lots at Stake
by Robert Dreyfuss
The Nation, 2009-02-25


2009-02-25-Rothkopf-Freeman
The right choice to be analyst-in-chief
by David Rothkopf
Foreign Policy (foreignpolicy.com), 2009-02-25

2009-02-26-Rothkopf-Freeman
Opposing the groupthink lobby
by David Rothkopf
Foreign Policy (foreignpolicy.com), 2009-02-26

2009-02-28-Walt-Freeman
"Have they not a shred of decency?"
by Stephem M. Walt
Foreign Policy (foreignpolicy.com), 2009-02-28

[An excerpt.]

I am reminded of [the Army-McCarthy hearing] as I watch
the all-too-predictable smear campaign against
Charles Freeman’s appointment as chairman of the National Intelligence Council.
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).

...

What unites this narrow band of critics is only one thing:
Freeman has dared to utter
some rather mild public criticisms of Israeli policy.
That’s the litmus test
that Chait, Goldberg, Goldfarb, Peretz, Schoenfeld et al
want to apply to all public servants:
thou shalt not criticize Israeli policy
nor question America’s “special relationship” with Israel.
...

There are three reasons why the response to Freeman has been so vociferous.
  1. These critics undoubtedly hoped they could raise a sufficient stink
    that Obama and his director of national intelligence, Dennis Blair,
    might reconsider the appointment.
    Or perhaps Freeman might even decide to withdraw his name,
    because he couldn’t take the heat.
  2. Even if it was too late to stop Freeman from getting the job,
    they want to make Obama pay a price for his choice,
    so that he will think twice about appointing anyone else
    who might be willing to criticize Israeli policy or the special relationship.
  3. Perhaps most important,
    attacking Freeman is intended to
    deter other people in the foreign policy community
    from speaking out on these matters.

    Freeman might be too smart, too senior, and too well-qualified to stop,
    but there are plenty of younger people
    eager to rise in the foreign policy establishment
    and they need to be reminded that their careers could be jeopardized
    if they followed in Freeman’s footsteps and said what they thought.
    Raising a stink about Freeman reminds others
    that it pays to back Israel to the hilt, or at least remain silent,
    even when it is pursuing policies --
    like building settlements on the West Bank --
    that are not in America’s national interest.


2009-03-01-Lang-Freeman
Charles Freeman, the right man in the right job at the NIC
by Patrick Lang
Sic Semper Tyrannis, 2009-03-01

2009-03-04-de-Borchgrave-Freeman
Intelligence Chairman Freeman Stirs Israeli Ire
By Arnaud de Borchgrave
Newsmax.com, 2009-03-04
(Another source for this article is here.)

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

Mercifully for Freeman,
his job is not subject to Senate confirmation.
Had it been,
he would have been axed
with a nod from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.


2009-03-05-Walt-Freeman
The best defense is to be offensive?:
A response to Chait, Goldfarb, and Goldberg

by Stephem M. Walt
Foreign Policy (foreignpolicy.com), 2009-03-05

2009-03-05-Luban-Lobe-Freeman
Intel Council Head Draws Ire of Israel Lobby
by Daniel Luban and Jim Lobe
Antiwar.com, 2009-03-05

[An excerpt.]

The appointment of a top-ranking retired diplomat and vocal critic of Israel
to a key intelligence post
has triggered an intense backlash
from hawkish Israel supporters in Congress and the media
who are pressing the administration of President Barack Obama to reconsider.

Critics have seized upon retired Amb. Charles “Chas” Freeman’s
ties to Saudi Arabia and views on human rights in China
to argue against his appointment
as chairman of the National Intelligence Council (NIC),
but Freeman’s defenders charge that their real aim is to
impose an ideological litmus test on top government officials and
ensure a continued policy of reflexive U.S. support for Israel.

...

“They seek to eliminate from public life all those whom they think
are not completely in the control of ‘the lobby,’ ”
writes Pat Lang,
the former senior Mideast analyst at the Defense Intelligence agency,
on his blog.
“Charles Freeman is a man awesomely educated,
of striking intellect,
of vast experience and demonstrated integrity...
Who could possibly be better for this job?”

Similarly, David Rothkopf, a former managing director of Kissinger Associates
who has written an authoritative work
on the history of the National Security Council,
charged in his blog on the “Foreign Policy” website that
“there is something ugly to these attacks on Freeman...
The notion... that there is no room in the U.S. government
for people who are skeptical of Israeli policies
or for people who are not in lockstep with one view of, say, Saudi Arabia,
is both absurd and dangerous.”

His defenders have also noted that his critics
have not raised similar objections
to other officials whose organizations have accepted Saudi donations.

2009-03-06-Fallows-Freeman
A fight I didn't intend to get into: Chas Freeman
by James Fallows
TheAtlantic.com, 2009-03-06

2009-03-07-Sullivan-Freeman
A Freeman Time-Line
by Andrew Sullivan
TheAtlantic.com, 2009-03-07

2009-03-08-Klein-Freeman
The Assault on Chas Freeman
by Joe Klein
swampland.blogs.time.com, 2009-03-08

2009-03-09-Lobe-Freeman
Nelson Report Says Freeman Foes Distorting China Memo
by Jim Lobe
LobeLog, 2009-03-08







2009-03-10-Lang-Freeman-Freeman
Freeman speaks out on his exit
Patrick Lang reprints a message from Ambassador Freeman on his withdrawal
Sic Semper Tyrannis, 2009-03-10
[Also available at Philip Weiss’s blog and at the Wall Street Journal.]

[An excerpt from Ambassador Freeman’s remarks.
Again, this is Ambassador Freeman speaking,
but the paragraph numbers and all emphasis are added.]


[1]
You will by now have seen
the statement by Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair
reporting that I have withdrawn
my previous acceptance of his invitation
to chair the National Intelligence Council.

[2]

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.

I agreed to chair the NIC to strengthen it
and protect it against politicization,
not to introduce it to efforts by a special interest group
to assert control over it
through a protracted political campaign.

...

[5]
The libels on me and their easily traceable email trails
show conclusively that
there is a powerful lobby determined to prevent
any view other than its own from being aired,

still less to factor in American understanding
of trends and events in the Middle East.
The tactics of the Israel Lobby
plumb the depths of dishonor and indecency
and include
character assassination,
selective misquotation,
the willful distortion of the record,
the fabrication of falsehoods, and
an utter disregard for the truth.

The aim of this Lobby is
control of the policy process through
the exercise of a veto over the appointment of people
who dispute the wisdom of its views,
the substitution of political correctness for analysis, and
the exclusion of
any and all options for decision by Americans and our government
other than those that it favors.


[6]
There is a special irony in having been accused of
improper regard for the opinions of foreign governments and societies
by a group so clearly intent on
enforcing adherence to the policies of a foreign government –
in this case, the government of Israel.
I believe that
the inability of the American public to discuss,
or the government to consider,
any option for US policies in the Middle East
opposed by the ruling faction in Israeli politics
has allowed that faction to adopt and sustain policies
that ultimately threaten the existence of the state of Israel.
It is not permitted for anyone in the United States to say so.
This is not just a tragedy for Israelis and their neighbors in the Middle East;
it is doing widening damage to the national security of the United States.

...

— Charles Freeman



2009-03-10-Blumenthal-Freeman-Rosen
Obama Intelligence Nominee Withdraws
by Max Blumenthal
The Daily Beast, 2009-03-10

Charles "Chas" Freeman,
Obama’s pick to head the National Intelligence Council,
has withdrawn from contention for the job.
The Daily Beast’s Max Blumenthal reported that

the leader of the campaign against Freeman was Steven Rosen,
a former director of AIPAC awaiting trial on espionage charges,
who has a long history of
attacking and undermining anybody he deems hostile to Israel.



2009-03-10-Greenwald-Freeman
Charles Freeman fails the loyalty test
by Glenn Greenwald
Salon.com, 2009-03-10

[An excerpt; most of the emphasis is added.]

UPDATE II:

Andrew Sullivan on “The Freeman Precedent”:

Obama may bring change in many areas, but
there is no possibility of change on the Israel-Palestine question.
Having the kind of debate in America
that they have in Israel, let alone Europe,
on the way ahead in the Middle East
is simply forbidden.

Even if a president wants to have
differing sources of advice on many questions,
the Congress will prevent any actual, genuinely open debate on Israel.
More to the point:
the Obama peeps never defended Freeman. They were too scared.
The fact that Obama blinked means
no one else in Washington will ever dare to go through
the hazing that Freeman endured.

And so the chilling effect is as real as it is deliberate.

Actually, Obama’s DNI, Adm. Blair, did defend Freeman, but only today,
and it’s true that no other Obama officials did.
As usual, it was
a bipartisan onslaught of government officials
marching in lockstep loyalty to AIPAC mandates,
with nobody outside of some bloggers and online writers defending Freeman.
Though I was just arguing yesterday that
the rules for discussing Israel in the U.S. have become more permissive
,
and I still think that,
this outcome was probably inevitable given

the refusal of virtually all influential Beltway factions
to deviate from
mandated loyalty to the right-wing Israel agenda.

That it was inevitable doesn’t make it any less grotesque.

...

UPDATE V:
...
How anyone thinks that it is helpful to Israel
to impose these blatant litmus tests of Israel-loyalty
on American politics
is truly mystifying.
Foreign policy expert Larry Rothkopf says that
the failure of Freeman’s appointment
“cost the United States intelligence and policy communities the benefit of
a truly unique mind and set of perspectives”
and
“have also contributed to what can only be characterized as
a leadership crisis in the U.S. government.”
Judging by Freeman’s statement today, Rothkopf is absolutely right.

[Why don’t we just call our ruling political/media class what it is:
The Zionist Occupation Government.]



2009-03-10-Rothkopf-Freeman
Freeman is forced out
by David Rothkopf
Foreign Policy (foreignpolicy.com), 2009-03-10


2009-03-10-Smith-Lieberman-Freeman
Blair defends Freeman from Lieberman
by Ben Smith
Politico.com, 2009-03-10

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

“My own sense is that

this controversy is not going to go away
until you or Ambassador Freeman find a way to resolve it,”

[Senator Joe] Lieberman said.

[Get that.
“[T]his controversy is not going to go away”.
That shows two things:
  1. The power Jews have to determine what America reads and sees.
  2. That Abraham Foxman and his backers at the ADL
    are absolute liars
    when they deny the power Jews have in America,
    and how they use it to further Jewish vice American interests.
]


2009-03-10-Smith-Obama-Freeman
Obama backs off on Israel, again
by Ben Smith
Politico.com, 2009-03-10

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

Freeman’s departure shows
Obama’s reluctance to signal a dramatic change
to a U.S. policy in the Middle East that centers on
standing beside Israel.


Throughout his presidential campaign,
Obama jettisoned aides and backed off statements
that appeared to imply a change
in the Bush Administration’s firm support for hawkish Israeli governments.

[No change there!]

As president,
Obama dispatched Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the Middle East last week
with a tough message for the Palestinians,
saying it was hard for Israel to make peace
with people who are hurling rockets into their country.

And the 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.”



Freeman’s departure echoed moments during last year’s presidential campaign
when Obama -
generally willing to ignore the daily political tempests -
abandoned aides and advisers
who drew strong, persistent criticism on the question of Israel,
which became, in the politics of the presidential campaign,
a proxy issue for more general toughness on Islamic terrorism.

He forced an informal advisor,
former Clinton administration peace negotiator Rob Malley,
to resign after he met with Hamas officials
on behalf of the International Crisis Group.
And he distanced himself
from Carter National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski,
who had been, briefly, a high-profile campaign figure.
Later Obama, asked about his views on Israel,
dismissed Brzezinski as “not one of my key advisers.”


2009-03-10-Weiss-Kirk-Freeman
Why is Illinois congressman point man on Freeman attack?
by Philip Weiss
MondoWeiss, 2009-03-10

2009-03-10-Weiss-signal-Freeman
Freeman ouster is signal, Obama won't put pressure on Israel
by Philip Weiss
MondoWeiss, 2009-03-10


2009-03-11-NYT-Mazzetti-Freeman
Nominee Ends Bid for Key Job in Intelligence
By MARK MAZZETTI
New York Times, 2009-03-11

2009-03-11-NYT-Pincus-Freeman
Impartiality Questioned, Intelligence Pick Pulls Out
By Walter Pincus
Washington Post, 2009-03-11

2009-03-11-Luban-Lobe-Freeman
Freeman Withdrawal Marks Victory for Israel Lobby
by Daniel Luban and Jim Lobe
Antiwar.com, 2009-03-11

2009-03-11-Parry-Freeman
The Neocons Strike Back
By Robert Parry
ConsortiumNews.com, 2009-03-11

The neoconservatives have demonstrated that
their power in Washington remains strong
as they have succeeded in
keeping veteran diplomat Chas Freeman out of a top intelligence job.


2009-03-11-Walt-Freeman
On Chas Freeman's withdrawal
by Stephem M. Walt
Foreign Policy (foreignpolicy.com), 2009-03-11

[Most of the post; emphasis is added.]

First, for all of you out there
who may have questioned whether there was a powerful “Israel lobby,”
or who admitted that it existed but didn’t think it had much influence,
or who thought that the real problem was
some supposedly all-powerful “Saudi lobby,”
think again.

Second, this incident
does not speak well for Barack Obama’s principles,
or even his political instincts.
It is one thing to pander to various special interest groups
while you’re running for office -- everyone expects that sort of thing --
but it’s another thing to let a group of bullies push you around
in the first fifty days of your administration.
But as Ben Smith noted in Politico,
it’s entirely consistent with most of Obama’s behavior on this issue.

The decision to toss Freeman over the side tells the lobby (and others)
that it doesn’t have to worry about Barack getting tough with Netanyahu,
or even that he’s willing to fight hard for his own people.
Although AIPAC has issued a pro forma denial that it had anything to do with it,
well-placed friends in Washington have told me that
it leaned hard on some key senators behind-the-scenes
and is now bragging that Obama is a “pushover.”
Bottom line:
Caving on Freeman was a blunder that could come back to haunt
any subsequent effort to address the deteriorating situation in the region.

Third, and related to my second point,
this incident reinforces my suspicion that
the Democratic Party is in fact a party of wimps.
[Cf.]
I’m not talking about Congress,
which has been in thrall to the lobby for decades,
but about the new team in the Executive Branch.
Don’t they understand that you have to start your term in office
by making it clear that people will pay a price if they cross you?
Barack Obama won an historic election and has a clear mandate for change --
and that includes rethinking our failed Middle East policy --
and yet he wouldn’t defend an appointment
that didn’t even require Senate confirmation.
Why? See point No.1 above.

Of course, it’s possible that I’m wrong here,
and that Obama’s team was actually being clever.
Freeman’s critics had to expend a lot of ammunition
to kill a single appointment
to what is ultimately not a direct policy-making position,
and they undoubtedly ticked off a lot of people by doing so.
When the real policy fights begin --
over the actual content of the NIEs,
over attacking Iran, and
over the peace process itself --
they aren’t likely to get much sympathy from DNI Blair
[If he is not the next victim of the Lobby,
having indicated that he is not its lackey.]

and it is least conceivable that Obama will turn to them and say,
“look, I gave you one early on,
but now I’m going to do what’s right for America.”
I don’t really believe that will happen,
but I’ll be delighted if Obama proves me wrong.

Fourth,

the worst aspect of the Freeman affair is
the likelihood of a chilling effect on discourse in Washington,
at precisely the time when we badly need
a more open and wide-ranging discussion of our Middle East policy.

As I noted earlier,
this was one of the main reasons
why the lobby went after Freeman so vehemently;
in an era where more and more people
are questioning Israel’s behavior
and questioning the merits of unconditional U.S. support,
its hardline defenders felt they simply had to reinforce
the de facto ban on honest discourse inside the Beltway.
After forty-plus years of occupation,
two wars in Lebanon,
and the latest pummeling of Gaza,
(not to mention Ehud Olmert’s own comparison of Israel with South Africa),
defenders of the “special relationship” can’t win on facts and logic anymore.
So they have to rely on
raw political muscle and
the silencing or marginalization of those with whom they disagree.
In the short term,

Freeman’s fate is intended to send the message that
if you want to move up in Washington,
you had better make damn sure that nobody even suspects
you might be an independent thinker on these issues.


This outcome is bad for everyone, including Israel.
It means that
policy debates in the United States will continue to be
narrower than in other countries (including Israel itself),
public discourse will be equally biased, and
a lot of self-censorship will go on.
America’s Middle East policy will remain stuck in the same familiar rut,
and even a well-intentioned individual like George Mitchell
won’t be able to bring the full weight of our influence to bear.
At a time when Israel badly needs honest advice,
nobody in Washington is going to offer it,
lest they face the wrath of the same foolish ideologues who targeted Freeman.
The likely result is further erosion in America’s position in the Middle East,
and more troubles for Israel as well.

...

Last but not least,
I cannot help but be struck by
how little confidence Freeman’s critics seem to have in Israel itself.
Apparently they believe that
a country that recently celebrated its 60th birthday,
whose per capita income ranks 29th in the world,
that has several hundred nuclear weapons,
and a military that is able to inflict more than 1,300 deaths on helpless Palestinians in a couple of weeks without much effort
will nonetheless be at risk
if someone who has criticized some Israeli policies
(while defending its existence)
were to chair the National Intelligence Council.
The sad truth is that these individuals
are deathly afraid of honest discourse here in the United States
because deep down,
they believe Israel cannot survive
if it isn’t umbilically attached to the United States.

The irony is that people like me have more confidence in Israel than they do:
I think Israel can survive and prosper
if it has a normal relationship with the United States instead of “special” one.
Indeed, I think a more normal relationship would be better for both countries.
It appears they aren’t so sure,
and that is why they went after Charles Freeman.


2009-03-11-Weiss-WP-Freeman
Dumb show:
'Washington Post''s covers Freeman exit without using the word 'lobby'!

by Philip Weiss
MondoWeiss, 2009-03-11

2009-03-11-Weiss-Walt-Freeman
Walt says Obama is a 'wimp'
by Philip Weiss
MondoWeiss, 2009-03-11

2009-03-11-Weiss-Pipes-Freeman
Daniel Pipes claims victory in the Freeman fight,
but the battle for US foreign policy is just beginning

by Philip Weiss
MondoWeiss, 2009-03-11

2009-03-11-Weiss-Fleshler-Freeman
AIPAC helped 'orchestrate' Freeman takedown-- Fleshler
by Philip Weiss
MondoWeiss, 2009-03-11



2009-03-12-NYT-Freeman
Israel Stance Was Undoing of Nominee for Intelligence Post
By MARK MAZZETTI and HELENE COOPER
New York Times, 2009-03-12

[This is one of the most frank, explicit discussuions of the Lobby
I have seen in the MSM.]



2009-03-12-WP-Pincus-Freeman
Intelligence Pick Blames 'Israel Lobby' For Withdrawal
by Walter Pincus
Washington Post, 2009-03-12

2009-03-12-WP-Editorial-Freeman
Blame the 'Lobby'
The Obama administration's latest failed nominee peddles a conspiracy theory.
Washington Post Editorial, 2009-03-12

2009-03-12-WP-Broder-Freeman
The Country's Loss
by David S. Broder
Washington Post Op-Ed, 2009-03-12

[Its final paragraph; emphasis is added.]

[Obama’s Director of National Intelligence Dennis] Blair said that
the White House told him
[from an earlier paragraph, evidently on the night before Freeman withdrew]
that
if he wanted Freeman,
he’d have to fight for him himself.

When I asked the White House on Tuesday if Obama supported Freeman,
a National Security Council spokesman said he would check,
but he never got back to me.
Freeman vanished without a squawk from Obama.

2009-03-12-WP-Lane-Freeman
The Real Chas Freeman
by Charles Lane
Washington Post On-Line, 2009-03-12

[An excerpt.]

Now, you can agree or disagree with Freeman’s take -- I think it’s rubbish.
But one thing it definitely is not is original.
Susan Sontag said more or less the same thing just after September 11, 2001.
You can get some version of this “analysis” any day of the week
in the blogosphere
or the Middle East Studies programs of our major universities.

[Notice he did not say, for good reason, “in the mainstream media”.
I rest my case on the pro-Israel bias of the MSM.
The only remaining question is,
when will the ADL stop lying about Jewish media control?]



2009-03-12-Goodman-Freeman
Israel Lobby Knocks Out Freeman
By Melvin A. Goodman
CounsortiumNews.com, 2009-03-12

Israel is capable of debating sensitive national security issues
dealing with a variety of Israeli-Arab issues,
but this does not appear to be possible in the United States.


2009-03-12-Greenwald-Freeman
The distorting effect of anonymity
by Glenn Greenwald
Salon.com, 2009-03-12

[An excerpt.]

Now that establishment media venues have finally (now that it’s all over)
taken note of the Charles Freeman controversy
which was exploding on blogs and in Congress for the last week,
we have yet another perfectly illustrative example of
these distorting effects of anonymity ....
The always-neocon-friendly Washington Post Editorial Page...

2009-03-12-McGovern-Freeman
Obama Caves to Israel Lobby
by Ray McGovern
Antiwar.com, 2009-03-12

2009-03-12-Silverstein-Freeman
Chas Freeman and Saudi Money
By Ken Silverstein
Harper’s, 2009-03-12

[Emphasis is added.]

[1]
One of the most common charges
hurled by the opponents of Charles Freeman Jr.,
who yesterday withdrew
as chair of the Obama administration’s National Intelligence Council,
was that
he “headed a Saudi-funded Middle East advocacy group in Washington.”
[Quote from the Washington Post editorial.]
I’ve written about the influence of money on think tanks
and think it’s a valid point of concern,
but let’s put this assertion in perspective.

[2]
Freeman headed the Middle East Policy Council.
I’m not sure how much Saudi money flows to the think tank,
but it can’t be much.
I checked the firm’s non-profit disclosure form for 2007 and
its total receipts for the year were $731,000, and
it had assets of $1.3 million.
Freeman was paid $87,000 that year.

[3]
Compare that to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy,
a conservative think tank that is overwhelmingly supportive of Israel
and whose board includes Henry Kissinger, Alexander Haig and Martin Peretz.
Its receipts for 2007 came to $11.9 million, and
it had $26.5 million in assets.
Robert Satloff, the institute’s executive director, was paid $307,000.
Dennis Ross, now the Obama administration’s special adviser on Iran,
was paid $208,000 for duties as a “Distinguished Fellow.”
[Rich Jews. What do you expect?]

[4]
Then there’s the equally pro-Israel American Enterprise Institute,
from where a number of prominent Bush Administration employees came.
It had assets of $77 million in 2006
(the last year for which I could find its disclosure form at the Foundation Center),
and receipts of $56 million.

[5]
None of these groups list funders on their websites,
nor are they required to list them on disclosure reports.
(AEI says it doesn’t disclose donors;
the Washington Institute’s press contact was out today.)
The Israeli government doesn’t (as far as I know) back AEI or WINEP,
but conservative foundations do and
it’s hard to imagine that pro-Israeli organizations and individuals
aren’t kicking in large sums as well.

[6]
So

why is the Middle East Policy Council
any more intellectually corrupt than AEI or WINEP?

And
why is employment at the former a bar to government employment,
but a job at the last two is not?




2009-03-12-Walt-Freeman
Freeman wasn't the first
by Stephen M. Walt
ForeignPolicy.com, 2009-03-12


2009-03-12-Weiss-WP-Ed-Freeman
'Washington Post,' a bulwark of the lobby, denies there's a lobby
by Philip Weiss
MondoWeiss, 2009-03-12

[Emphasis is added.]

[1]
At last, the fat is in the fire.
The American press is talking about the Israel lobby.
Spirited Chas Freeman has succeeded in getting up the beach,
after Walt and Mearsheimer draped their bodies on the barbed wire.
Writes a friend:
“Check out the the Post today--it is schizophrenic:
an unsigned editorial
rips the notion that the ‘lobby’ had anything to do with with Freeman’s demise.
On the opposite page,
David Broder takes the bold stand that the ‘lobby’ destroyed Freeman.”

[2]
I noticed that editorial.
It calls the lobby idea a conspiracy theory, imbalanced, absurd,
and says Freeman issued a “tirade.” Etc.

[3]
Here is one response to the Post.
It comes from Chas Freeman himself.
And now I am going to tease a piece I’ve written for the American Conservative
(the one magazine that has been comfortable with my writing about the lobby;
here’s where you subscribe)
which will appear in a few days.
Freeman told me about his epiphany about Americans’ idea of Israel years ago.
He was in Abu Dhabi when he saw all over the television and newspapers
a grotesque incident on the West Bank captured on a home video,
in which
Israeli forces dragged a Palestinian from his home
and beat the hell out of him and then when he was senseless,
shot him in the back of the head.

“I thought, when this hits the US press,
all hell will break loose.
Well it didn’t ever hit our press.
The self-censorship extended to a point that
it was really dangerous to our society.”

[5]
And meantime, Freeman was reading amazing Israeli journalists like Uri Avnery,
who had no trouble exposing such atrocities,
and Haaretz,
which he justly describes as one of the greatest newspapers in the world.

[6]
That is all you need to know.
The Washington Post and other important mainstream organs--
out of ideological blindness stemming in good measure
from the large number of Israel-inoculated Jews in the media
at a time when Israel is our “secular religion”
and a “sacred mission” for American Jews (per Dershowitz)--
have funked their journalistic mission
by protecting Americans from the true, thuggish face of Israel for years.
And whether this behavior was
conscious, orchestrated, passive, religious, or unconscious,
it was an essential component of the lobby’s activities.
Now, surprise, the Post denies that there is an Israel lobby.

2009-03-12-Weiss-LAT-WP-Freeman
After Freeman, LA Times wants an open debate on Israel,
Washington Post wants to shut it down

by Philip Weiss
MondoWeiss, 2009-03-12



2009-03-13-MacDonald-Freeman
Charles Freeman’s disloyalty allegations
by Kevin MacDonald
The Occidental Observer, 2009-03-13

[An excerpt.]

The Post’s editorial on the subject bordered on the bizarre, claiming that
any suggestion that the Lobby was behind the failed appointment
was nothing more than a “conspiracy theory.”
Please!

...

It is important to realize the gravity of the charge of Jewish disloyalty.
It is a charge that has repeatedly surfaced throughout Jewish history ...

2009-03-13-Raimondo-Freeman
Charles Freeman's Victory
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2009-03-13



2009-03-14-Luban-Lobe-Freeman
Freeman Affair Puts Israel Lobby in Spotlight
by Daniel Luban and Jim Lobe
Antiwar.com, 2009-03-14

2009-03-14-Prather-Freeman
WINEP Instructs Our President
by Gordon Prather
Antiwar.com, 2009-03-14


2009-03-15-NYT-Letters-to-the-Editor-Freeman
The Case of the Derailed Nominee
New York Times Letters to the Editor, 2009-03-15

[Featuring one from M.J. Rosenberg (emphasis is added):]

To the Editor:

Re “Israel Stance Was Undoing of Nominee” (front page, March 12),
about why Charles W. Freeman Jr. withdrew his name
from consideration for a top intelligence post:

How strange.
This is a country where
an appointee to a high government position
can be on record harshly criticizing
any or all policies of our own government,
but not Israeli policies.


When it comes to American policies, criticism — even harsh criticism —
is both standard and unremarkable.
That is also how it is in Israel,
which is even more open than we are
about the rough-and-tumble aspects of democracy.

But
criticism of Israeli policies by Americans
can sink an aspirant for an appointed position or high office.


Not only that,
the people who organize these campaigns do it in the dark
without opening the debate to the American people.
This is bad for America, bad for Israel and bad for the Jewish community.

M. J. Rosenberg
Director of Policy
Israel Policy Forum
Washington, March 12, 2009

[Note that the above comments came, not from an anti-Semite,
but from an American Jew.]




2009-03-16-Avnery-Freeman
The Rape of Washington
by Uri Avnery
Antiwar.com, 2009-03-16

2009-03-16-Dreyfuss-Engelhardt-Freeman
The Freeman Affair
by Robert Dreyfuss and Tom Engelhardt
Antiwar.com, 2009-03-16

[Its beginning; emphasis is added.]

Because one man, conceding defeat,
didn’t issue the typical statement
indicating that he preferred to spend more time with his family,

and instead launched
a frontal attack on those who had attacked him,
[Thank you, Charles Freeman.
Thank you for not rolling over and playing dead
when the Israeli lobby knee-capped you.]

the foreign policy equation in Washington
might have changed in discernible ways last week.
On withdrawing from his nomination as
director of the National Intelligence Council, Charles Freeman,
former ambassador to Saudi Arabia
and a rare provocative thinker in Washington,
let loose with a broadside against his enemies.
Of accusations from the generally right-wing groups and individuals
who claim to represent the Jewish community in official Washington,
he wrote: ....

2009-03-16-Raimondo-Freeman
Continuity and Change
Forget the latter, and get used to the former
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2009-03-16


2009-03-17-Buchanan-Freeman
Of Patriots and Assassins
by Patrick J. Buchanan
Antiwar.com, 2009-03-17


2009-03-18-Weiss-Antiwar.com-radio-Freeman
Scott Horton Interviews Philip Weiss (has link to 21 minute MP3)
by Philip Weiss
Antiwar.com, 2009-03-18

[Quite eloquent and, I think, interesting, if not terribly original.]

2009-03-18-Zunes-Freeman
Neocons 1, Obama 0
by Stephen Zunes
Antiwar.com, 2009-03-18


2009-03-20-Hadar-Freeman
The Pillorying of Charles Freeman and America's Loss
by Leon Hadar
Antiwar.com, 2009-03-20


2009-03-23-Weiss-TAC-Freeman
Freeman’s Fight
The Israel lobby gets its man—and tips its hand.
By Philip Weiss
American Conservative, 2009-03-23



2009-03-26-Mearsheimer-Freeman
The Lobby Falters
by John Mearsheimer
London Review of Books, 2009-03-26










Michael Scheuer

2012-10-26-Scheuer-israel-first-thriving-in-governor-romney
Israel First thriving in Governor Romney’s camp — and still trying to get me fired, silenced
by Michael Scheuer
non-intervention.com, 2012-10-26









Helen Thomas


2010-06-07-Thomas-NYT-MediaDecoder
An End for Helen Thomas and the Helen Thomas Rules
By JEREMY W. PETERS
New York Times Media Decoder Blog, 2010-06-07

To many in Washington,
two sets of rules seemed to apply for journalists covering the president:
those for regular White House correspondents,
and those for Helen Thomas.

Ms. Thomas, 89, made a name for herself
asking tough, provocative questions of every president since John F. Kennedy,
but her tart tongue may have finally brought her career to a close.
Ms. Thomas said on Monday that she will retire,
following an uproar over her recent remarks that
Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine.”

The departure of Ms. Thomas, 89, was a sudden and surprising twist
to a controversy that has gone viral in the last several days.
Her retirement marks a rather ignominious end
to a career that was trailblazing and historic.
Few White House correspondents ever achieved her high profile and respectability.
From her coveted seat in the front row of the White House briefing room
to her ability to cow even the most hardened White House press secretary,
Ms. Thomas was a legend in Washington.

Especially in her latter years as a journalist,
she posed questions in a provocative and opinionated manner
that was highly unusual for a member of the White House press corps.

“The rules have been different for Helen for many years, and only for Helen,”
said Ari Fleischer, a former press secretary under George W. Bush
who had called on Ms. Thomas to step down.
“Helen earned that right, and she was treated differently.
And I never minded it.
I enjoyed my ideological thrust and parry with Helen,
but this is in a category entirely of itself.
And sadly she brought this on herself.”

Mr. Fleischer called her retirement “tragic and sad.”

[A self-evidently hypocritical statement if there ever was one;
compare the above two italicized statements.]


Ms. Thomas issued a statement through her employer, the Hearst Corporation,
apologizing for her comments on Israel.

“I deeply regret my comments I made last week
regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians,”
Ms. Thomas’s statement said.
“They do not reflect my heart-felt belief
that peace will come to the Middle East
only when all parties recognize the need for
mutual respect and tolerance.
May that day come soon.’’

Those comments, which first surfaced late last week
after a Long Island rabbi posted a video on his blog,
spiraled into a viral phenomenon.
She immediately found herself under fire
from pro-Israeli groups and conservatives.
[Sic! Let us recall that
some ultra-Orthodox Jews, who are conservative by any definition,
have made precisely the same request as Ms. Thomas did.
But of course those are usually ignored by
the stooges of Israel who dominate the MSM.
In any case, not all conservatives support Israel,
any more than all liberals oppose it.]


The video circulated widely on the Internet
and has been viewed nearly 1.1 million times on YouTube.

Her encounter with Rabbi David Nesenoff
took place on May 27 on the White House grounds.
Mr. Nesenoff said in a phone interview that
he and his son and his son’s friend
were visiting the White House for a Jewish heritage event that day
and just happened to run into Ms. Thomas on the grounds.

He asked her rather innocuously, he said,
what she thought of Israel
[Hmmm... What is the authorized response to that question?],
and her response shocked him.

“I recognized her and thought, ‘Oh this is interesting.’
I went and said hello I had told her what we were there for
and I had been asking people about Israel,”
Mr. Nesenoff said.
Mr. Nesenoff said that while he was wearing a baseball cap,
both his son and his son’s friend were wearing yarmulkes,
which he said he believed Ms. Thomas, whose parents emigrated from Lebanon,
could see.

“I couldn’t believe what came out of her mouth,” he said.
“I was shocked and hurt.”

[I (KHarbaugh) think this is a terrible denouement
and only proves how right the anti-Semites are,
and how wrong the ADL, etc., are:
The Jews really do control the media.
What other conclusion can be drawn?

As to the substance of whether Thomas should have been forced to resign,
let me say this.
I am far more conservative and far less feminist than Ms. Thomas,
and so have disagreed with the premises of many of her questions and comments
over her long career.
But this is America, and many opinions are welcome.
It’s part of free speech and the spirit of open debate.

I may or may not agree with what Thomas suggested is the ideal solution.
(Actually, I am undecided—
there are pros and cons both ways,
and I am not wise enough to decide which is best.)
But I am willing to go along with the clear majority opinion in this country
that a secure Jewish homeland in its ancient homeland is an American priority.

What happened here is a travesty of American values.
Agree or disagree with what she suggested,
she, even as a member of the WH press corps,
should be allowed to express the opinion she did,
even though, say, 98 percent of Americans would disagree.

For Jews who oppose one aspect or another of the existence of Israel, consider
Jews Against Zionism,
Jews Not Zionists,
and the late individual Alfred Lilienthal.]



2010-06-08-Thomas-Weiss
In Helen Thomas case, the world sees a taboo being enforced
by Philip Weiss
Mondoweiss.net, 2010-06-08

...

To the rest of the world this will just add to the perception of

hypocrisy and double standards
applied to people who speak up about
the Israel government’s reprehensible actions.


...

The implications for freedom of speech in the US
and for breaking a taboo about Israel in mainstream discourse
are far greater than
any offense part of her comment may have caused.
The Press Corps will be all the poorer now and
it will reinforce

the Israeli-status quo bias
as
the only game in town.




2010-06-10-Thomas-Nga
Anti-Israeli Hysteria and Helen Thomas
by Jawal Nga
Huffington Post, 2010-06-10

...

Was what Helen Thomas said inappropriate?

Possibly.

Was what Helen Thomas said rude?

Sure.

But was it worthy of her expulsion
from the paper clipped confines of the White House press room?

Hardly.

Since when has Ari Fleisher’s opinion
on anything other than what President Bush caught fishing
mattered to the global consensus?

[Since he expresses the opinion of the Jewish consensus.]





2010-06-10-Thomas-Weir-Israel
As Israel Kills and Maims, Outrage is Directed at Helen Thomas
by Alison Weir
Antiwar.com, 2010-06-10

[Alison Weir is one of Israel’s most eloquent critics in the United States.
This column is mainly about Israel, but it ties into
the black-balling of Helen Thomas.]


Whenever Israel commits yet another atrocity,
its defenders are quick to redirect public attention
away from the grisly crime scene.

Currently, there are headlines about allegedly anti-Semitic comments
made by senior White House correspondent Helen Thomas.
Pundits across the land evince outrage at
her off-the-cuff 25-second statement made to
a man who appears to be holding a camera right in her face.

...

Yet,

the rage we see in the U.S. media
is directed against none of this.
People shot in the head, eyes and brain parts destroyed,
the elderly beaten, small children and infants caused to suffer and die,
parents to grieve –
none of this has caused a hint of anger.
In fact, most of it has been considered of
too little importance even to report.

Instead, media reports are filled with outrage at
“anti-Israel” words spoken by 89-year-old Helen Thomas.


...


2010-06-12-Thomas-Sheldon-Richman
The Helen Thomas Affair
by Sheldon Richman
sheldonfreeassociation.blogspot.com, 2010-06-12

I hope no one will need a further demonstration of the power of
Israel's amen chorus in the United States.




2010-06-14-Thomas-WP-Kurtz
Helen Thomas, the rabbi and the press
By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post, 2010-06-14

...

Since Thomas was a columnist, she had every right to her opinions --
even if her view was that Jews should be banished from Israel.
But she didn’t have a perpetual right to a newspaper column
or a White House press room seat.
Hearst bears some responsibility for keeping Thomas on
as her behavior grew more disturbing.
It’s not that a pro-Israel press corps drove her out;
it’s that Thomas could not defend her remarks,
and indeed apologized for them.


















Chuck Hagel


2012-11-29-WP-Jennifer-Rubin-will-obama-tap-chuck-hagel-for-the-cabinet
Will Obama tap Chuck Hagel for the Cabinet?
By Jennifer Rubin
Washington Post Right-Turn Blog, 2012-11-29

It may be that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice is not the worst nominee President Obama is considering for a senior Cabinet slot. The Cable reports that former senator Chuck Hagel is being vetted for a top national security spot. If so, it’s a bizarre and politically dense move.

...

This is a Republican who once touted Sarah Palin as qualified to be vice president and whose record is precisely the anti-sanctions, anti-Israel stance Obama strove mightily in the campaign to deny represented his thinking.
...

2012-12-13-Walt-Hagel-top_five_reasons_obama_should_pick_chuck_hagel_for_secdef
Top five reasons Obama should pick Chuck Hagel for SecDef
By Stephen M. Walt
foreignpolicy.com, 2012-12-13


2012-12-16-WP-Editorial-chuck-hagel-is-not-right-for-defense-secretary
Chuck Hagel is not the right choice for defense secretary
By Editorial Board
Washington Post Editorial, 2012-12-16

2012-12-18-WP-Jennifer-Rubin-adl-pans-possible-chuck-hagel-pick
EXCLUSIVE: ADL pans possible Chuck Hagel pick
By Jennifer Rubin
Washington Post Right-Turn Blog, 2012-12-18

Abe Foxman, the head of the Anti-Defamation League,
emails me from overseas on the potential for Chuck Hagel
to be picked as secretary of Defense:

“Chuck Hagel would not be the first, second, or third choice
for the American Jewish community’s friends of Israel.
His record relating to Israel and the U.S.-Israel relationship is, at best, disturbing, and at worst, very troubling.
The sentiments he’s expressed about the Jewish lobby
border on anti-Semitism in the genre of
professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt
and former president Jimmy Carter.”


Foxman’s criticism follows in the wake of a column by Bret Stephens
who documents Hagel’s insinuations about dual loyalty.
Today Stephens writes,
“Prejudice—like cooking, wine-tasting and other consummations—
has an olfactory element.
When Chuck Hagel, the former GOP senator from Nebraska who is now a front-runner to be the next secretary of Defense,
carries on about how “the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here,”
the odor is especially ripe.”

[Always amazing to see the Jewish lobby complaining about
how awful it is
when people describe their power accurately and truthfully.
I know there are many Jews who will acknowledge the power of the Jewish lobby.
But it seems the Jewish lobby is both
a) powerful and
b) insistent that no one can describe (honestly and accurately) that fact.
If it weren't that the Jewish influence is so strong in psychology,
that would seem to be a clear example of mental illness.]


Hagel’s use of the phrase “the Jewish lobby” was not isolated,
but it was unique among elected officials outside the Pat Buchanan fringe
and would be unprecedented for a cabinet official.
[Clear evidence of Jewish intimidation.]
Stephens notes:

Mr. Hagel’s Jewish lobby remark was well in keeping with the broader pattern of his thinking.
“I’m a United States Senator, not an Israeli Senator,”
Mr. Hagel told retired U.S. diplomat Aaron David Miller in 2006.
“I’m a United States Senator.
I support Israel.
But my first interest is I take an oath of office
to the Constitution of the United States.
Not to a president. Not a party. Not to Israel.
If I go run for Senate in Israel, I’ll do that.”

Read these staccato utterances again to better appreciate
their insipid and insinuating qualities,
all combining to cast the usual slur on Jewish-Americans:
Dual loyalty.
Nobody questions Mr. Hagel’s loyalty.
He is only making those assertions to question the loyalty of others.

I and others have documented Hagel’s objection to sanctions against Iran
and his particularly anti-Israel voting record.
But these remarks are something different —
the expression of rank prejudice against American Jews.
[Honest talk is prejudice?
This is (part of) what I hate about PC:
How they have expanded the definitions of words to suit their goals.
Prejudice, we all can agree, is bad.
But how is simply noting the fact that Jews are powerful and often use that power for the Jewish interest, vice the broader American interest, prejudice?
(Below Rubin asserts that gentiles are defining anti-Semitism downward.
I assert that she has just defined prejudice downward.)
Here is a comparison:
Would anyone deny that the AARP works for the interests of its members and the broader senior citizen demographic?
So why is it so awful to observe that Jewish lobbying groups
work for the Jewish interest?
What else does the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the ADL, and AIPAC do?
(I acknowledge that the JCPA tries to support the broadest possible interpretation of that interest,
while AIPAC only represents a portion of the total Jewish community.
But actions such as the Jewish walkout on the Christian-Jewish Roundtable
show how much the totality of the American Jewish community is pro-Israel.]

Hagel has never apologized for, retracted or even sought to explain his remarks.

No official would be considered for high office
if he questioned the loyalty of Asian Americans or Arab Americans,
so it is difficult to understand why Hagel has gotten so much consideration.
But then again, perhaps this is simply evidence of
defining deviancy, or anti-Semitism, downward.
In any event, the calls for Obama
to diversify his cabinet with a woman at the Pentagon
seem a graceful cover for dumping Hagel.
Really, where are the women?



2012-12-18-Raimondo-Chuck-Hagel-campaign-against
The Paranoid Style of the Israel Lobby
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2012-12-18

The anti-Hagel campaign reveals the psychopathology of radical Zionism




2012-12-20-timesofisrael-opposition-to-hagel-appointment-unites-pro-israel-advocates-womens-groups-republicans
Opposition to Hagel appointment unites pro-Israel advocates, women’s groups, Republicans
By Haviv Rettig Gur
timesofisrael.com, 2012-12-20

‘Jewish lobby’ comment,
suggestion to negotiate with Hamas,
objection to labeling Hezbollah a terrorist organization
dog Defense candidate


NEW YORK — An unexpected coalition has coalesced in opposition to the appointment of former Nebraska senator Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense.

According to information leaked from the administration last week, Hagel, a two-term Republican senator, decorated Vietnam veteran and successful entrepreneur, was being vetted by the White House Counsel’s office for the defense position. An official announcement about the nomination is expected by the weekend.

The report caused a firestorm of criticism from pro-Israel groups in the United States who oppose Hagel’s positions on several issues related to the Middle East. These include his calls over the years to engage with Yasser Arafat and Hamas, and his skepticism about a military solution to Iran’s nuclear program.

Hagel has his defenders, with the left-leaning New Republic’s John Judis calling him a “committed internationalist” and suggesting opposition to his nomination comes “almost exclusively from individuals and organizations that back Israel’s right-wing government and find Hagel’s views on Israel repellent.”

But those pro-Israel advocates –
many of whom are lifelong Democrats and supported Obama in the last election –
have been joined by
women’s groups concerned over
the declining diversity of President Obama’s cabinet
and even Democratic members of Congress.


With the departure of Hillary Clinton from State,
the three leading contenders for the departments of state, defense and the treasury are all white men,
a fact that has irked some women’s rights advocates.

Karen Finney, a former Democratic National Committee spokeswoman, criticized the possibility of a Hagel appointment on MSNBC Tuesday, suggesting appointing “two white men” — Senator John Kerry to lead the State Department and Hagel for Defense — would reflect badly on the administration in the wake of the withdrawal of UN ambassador Susan Rice’s consideration for secretary of state.

Kerry, she said, “would do a great job [at State]. I do think the White House has to be a little bit careful about — the other name that’s out there is Chuck Hagel for defense. I think naming two white men in the same week when you saw an African-American woman who is well-qualified, overly-qualified get treated that way … [is] probably not a smart strategic decision.”

The Obama administration has “a Cabinet that — let’s face it — could probably use a little more diversity,” she said.

Some have pointed to Michèle Flournoy, a former undersecretary of defense, to replace Panetta in the new Obama administration.

“I think she’s definitely getting a second look after [the withdrawal of Susan] Rice,” a “longtime Democratic defense policy hand” told Buzzfeed.

Women’s groups are calling for Flournoy’s appointment, the website reported.

“There is no doubt that the woman knows her business,” said Marie Wilson, the founder of the White House Project, which advocates for women to take on leadership roles in all spheres. “It’s Defense — the area where we have the slowest movement of women into top positions,” she said. “It would be a breakthrough.”

[Apparently the fact that Chuck Hagel knows the pains of combat firsthand
is totally irrelevant to these feminists.]


The most contested position is likely to be that of the defense department, with Kerry thought to be a shoo-in for State. A five-term senator first elected to the Senate in 1984, Kerry is well-liked and well-known by fellow senators. Republicans are particularly anxious to appoint the former Democratic presidential candidate to a cabinet post, as his departure from the Senate would free up the seat from Massachusetts that Republicans hope can be won in a special election by the popular Republican former senator Scott Brown.

In the Treasury, Obama’s Chief of Staff Jack Lew, an Orthodox Jew, is thought to be the leading contender to replace Timothy Geithner, though a Tuesday report suggested Obama was looking at American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault and Xerox CEO Ursula Burns as possible contenders for the post.

The appointments would buttress Obama’s relationship with “big business,” the Los Angeles Times claimed, and both chief executives are African Americans, adding to the diversity at the top of the cabinet.

While Obama himself is the first African American president, and there are other women and minorities in the cabinet – Energy Secretary and noted physicist Stephen Chu is of Chinese ancestry and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis is the first Hispanic woman to serve in the cabinet – some minority and women’s advocacy groups believe the triumvirate of State, Defense and Treasury are the most senior and symbolically important posts.

Republican senators have also expressed opposition to a Hagel appointment. South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham suggested Hagel would “have to answer” for a comment reported in a 2008 book by scholar and former Mideast negotiator Aaron David Miller that the “Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people.” The statement was blasted by the Anti-Defamation League and Hagel opponents.

“And he’ll have to answer about why he thought it was a good idea to directly negotiate with Hamas and why he objected to the European Union declaring Hezbollah a terrorist organization,” Graham added, according to the conservative Weekly Standard. Graham, a member of the Armed Services committee, said Hagel “will have to answer all those questions.”

Both Arizona senator John McCain, considered a longtime friend of Hagel, and Florida senator Marco Rubio took the former senator to task over the “Jewish lobby” comment.

“I know of no ‘Jewish lobby,’” McCain said. “I know that there’s strong support for Israel here. I know of no ‘Jewish lobby.’ I hope he would identify who that is.”

“I think that will be something he’ll have to answer for if he’s nominated,” said Rubio.

One senior Senate aide told Foreign Policy that ”there are a lot of senators, Democrats and Republicans, who are very outspoken on the need to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability through the imposition of sanctions and demonstration of a credible military threat. Chuck Hagel is the antithesis of everything those members believe in.”

By Tuesday afternoon, Republican voices were joined by a growing chorus of Democrats, some opposed to the nomination, some expressing reservations about the “Jewish lobby” comment.

Nevada Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley was one of those voices, saying in a statement Tuesday, ”The bottom line is that Chuck Hagel’s dismal record on issues affecting the Middle East stands in sharp contrast to the stated policies of our nation and he would be the wrong choice for America’s next secretary of defense,” Berkley said.

“I know there are some questions about his past comments and I’ll want to talk to him and see what his explanation is,” Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said.

“Yes, it would give rise to question, but there are so many very significant issues and factors to be considered, and he has many profoundly significant qualifications for the job,” said Blumenthal, according to the Weekly Standard.

“Any comment that undermines our relationship [with Israel] concerns me,” said Bob Casey (D-PA). Asked if the reference to the “Jewish lobby” is such a statement, Casey said, “Sure, yes.”

Michigan’s Carl Levin said he does not agree with Hagel’s view. “I don’t think it’s an appropriate statement,” Levin told the magazine.

And Barbara Boxer of California said she disagreed with the idea that there exists an intimidating “Jewish lobby” in Washington. “People can say whatever they want,” Boxer said. “I don’t agree with it.”

Hagel’s defenders, at least those who have spoken publicly on the likely nomination, seem to be fewer and less influential than the growing list of detractors and concerned voices.

In a statement, the left-wing group J Street praised Hagel as “among the first in his party to realize that the US occupation of Iraq had turned into a quagmire that was taking thousands of American and tens of thousands of Iraqi lives without a clear strategic rationale.”

Robert Wexler, a former congressman who was a top Jewish surrogate for Obama in both the 2008 and 2012 elections, said that trashing Hagel based on views that did not necessarily jibe with the pro-Israel community would damage Israel’s cause, JTA reported.

“It’s entirely appropriate to question the nominee on their issues related to Israel, and certainly the groups should engage in the political process,” Wexler said in an interview. “But to suggest that an American senator who served his nation honorably is somehow disqualified because he may possess a different point of view regarding what is best for America in terms of engagement with Iran or Hamas — I don’t think is appropriate.”


2012-12-24-Raimondo-Hagel-the-crucifixion-of-chuck-hagel
The Crucifixion of Chuck Hagel
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2012-12-24

...

If we allowed the soldiers in the field to vote
on who should be the next Secretary of Defense,
President Obama’s first choice, former Republican senator Chuck Hagel —
a Vietnam veteran and the recipient of two Purple Hearts,
whose work at the Veterans Administration during the Reagan years
endeared him to vets —
would win hands down.
In Washington, however, as the Washington Post averred,
he’s outside the “mainstream,”
a “fringe” character who’s well to the “left” of our
bipartisan let’s-go-to-war-at-the-drop-of-a-hat “consensus.”

It’s a sad commentary on the Washingtonian mindset
that a foreign policy “realist” like Hagel
is considered the 21st century equivalent of Abbie Hoffman,
but these people live in a bubble
where the outdated “left-right” paradigm still dictates our political choices.
Yet the majority of Republicans out in the country
support Hagel’s basic position —
caution, retrenchment, paring down the Pentagon —
the very stances Hagel is being pilloried for by the likes of Lindsey Graham.

...

2012-12-28-McGovern-Hagel-the-larger-question-of-chuck-hagel
The Larger Question of Chuck Hagel
by Ray McGovern
Antiwar.com, 2012-12-28

The Israel Lobby is hell bent on
sabotaging President Barack Obama’s tentative plan
to appoint former Sen. Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense.
And – with Obama now dithering about this selection –
the Lobby and its neocon allies sense another impending victory.

Perhaps The New Yorker’s Connie Bruck described Hagel’s predicament best
in assessing why the Israel Lobby is so determined to destroy the Nebraska Republican
though he is “a committed supporter of Israel.”

But, as Bruck explained,
“Hagel did not make the obeisance to the lobby
that the overwhelming majority of his Congressional colleagues do.
And he further violated a taboo by talking about the lobby, and its power.”

[The speech police at work.]

Hagel had the audacity, in an interview for a 2008 book,
to say something that you are not supposed to say in Official Washington,
that the Israel Lobby pulls the strings on many members of Congress.

...


2012-12-26-Walt-Hagel-whats_at_stake_in_the_hagel_affair
What's at stake in the Hagel affair
By Stephen M. Walt
walt.foreignpolicy.com, 2012-12-28

2013-01-08-Walt-Hagel-what_the_hagel_fight_does_and_doesnt_mean
What the Hagel fight does and doesn't mean
By Stephen M. Walt
walt.foreignpolicy.com, 2013-01-08

2013-01-08-Raimondo-Hagel-the-hagel-battle-why-is-obama-doing-this
The Hagel Battle:
‘Why is Obama Doing This?’

by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2013-01-08

A cultural revolution in the foreign policy debate

2013-01-10-Raimondo-Hagel-hagel-nomination-the-revenge-of-the-realists
Hagel Nomination:
The Revenge of the Realists

by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2013-01-10


2013-01-13-Walt-on_hagel_abrams_and_haass
On Hagel, Abrams, and Haass:
Why Richard Haass should tell Elliott Abrams to apologize

By Stephen M. Walt
walt.foreignpolicy.com, 2013-01-13

2013-02-01-Walt-Hagel-id_like_to_thank_the_senate_armed_services_committee
I'd like to thank the Senate Armed Services Committee
by Stephen M. Walt
walt.foreignpolicy.com, 2013-02-01

2013-02-04-WP-Pincus-at-hagel-hearing-congress-disappoints-again-with-nitpicking-by-senators
At Hagel hearing, Congress disappoints again with nitpicking by senators
By Walter Pincus
Washington Post, 2013-02-04

There were several obvious answers on Thursday when Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) asked Defense Secretary-designate Chuck Hagel to “name one person, in your opinion, who is intimidated by the Israeli lobby in the United States Senate” during the Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing.

One answer could have been “the two of us”: Graham, for example, by asking such a silly gotcha question, and Hagel for not standing up for his past words that reflect the belief of many who have watched the Senate over the years.

That lobby would include the most prominent of the pro-Israeli lobbies, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which immodestly acknowledges its own power over Congress, boldly claiming on its e-mails that it is “Consistently ranked as the most influential foreign policy lobbying organization on Capitol Hill.”

What was most disappointing about Hagel’s lackluster performance was his backing away from his previously stated, utterly rational views on many subjects, often in the face of hectoring from fellow Republicans who were clearly playing to conservative constituents.

When Graham asked Hagel to “name one dumb thing we’ve been goaded into doing because of the pressure from the Israeli or Jewish lobby,” the answer should have been “a good part of today’s eight-hour hearing.”

...

What has all this [a sample of the questions Hagel was asked] got to do with Hagel being Defense secretary? As others have pointed out, few senators raised the more serious issues that would immediately confront Hagel should he be confirmed, as he probably will be.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panettta, appearing on “Meet the Press” on Sunday, put it concisely: “What disappointed me is that they talked a lot about past quotes, but what about what a secretary of Defense is confronting today? What about the war in Afghanistan? What about the war on terrorism? What about the budget sequestering and what an impact it’s going to have on readiness? What about Middle East turmoil? What about cyber attacks?”

I would add one that will come up the first time Hagel as secretary faces the military in a town-hall meeting: What does he expect to be done about military pay, benefits, retirement and health care?

Thursday’s hearing was a perfect illustration of why the public has such a low opinion of Congress and why Americans should be concerned that their legislative branch often seems no longer to be playing a serious role in government.

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