Goodbye Chas Freeman- how dumb do they think we are?

In the immediate aftermath of Chas Freeman’s decision to step down from consideration as top intelligence analyst, there is a lot of finger-pointing about who is to blame.

There is no doubt that there was a campaign led by former AIPAC operative Steve Rosen to discredit Freeman because of reasonable statements he has made about Israel and US foreign policy.  Rosen is a man, mind you, soon going to trial for spying. In fact, Max Blumenthal’s excellent piece on Rosen’s bullying tactics uncovered this juicy tidbit:

The one-time power broker suddenly became persona non grata on Capitol Hill. In 2007, Rosen announced a new mission to The Forward’s Nathan Guttman: avenging “the strong anti-Israel sentiment among individuals in America’s intelligence community, which he believes is what led to the investigation against him in the first place.”

Blumenthal also looked under the rock to find this other AIPAC tie to the campaign:

Spencer Ackerman, a national-security reporter for the Washington Independent, first reported the rumors. “Reporter friends of mine have told me that AIPAC has been shopping oppo research on Freeman around,” Ackerman wrote on March 5.

Writers like The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, The New Republic’s Marty Peretz, Rich Lowery at The National Review and The Weekly Standard’s Michael Goldfarb, happily joined in and within minutes, the anti-Freeman chorus was singing in tune.

But it is also true that the campaign against him started gaining ground in Congress when additional concerns surfaced regarding his financial relationships with Saudi Arabia and China. Despite Freeman’s statement to the contrary, many will insist to the bitter end that he was taken down, not by his Israel politics, but by these other concerns:

“This was not about Israel, it was about a revolving door through which Freeman rotated and was paid handsomely,” said Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), after Freeman withdrew his name from consideration on Tuesday. The New York congressman was referring to the idea of the former ambassador to Saudi Arabia going from serving the U.S. government, to being paid by foreign governments and then returning to government service.

“There was a steady revelation of financial conflicts of interest involving foreign powers that were troubling,” said Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who along with Israel, led the opposition in Congress. “If it had simply been a dispute about Middle East policy, he would have survived.”

But the reasoning is false. And its untrue.  Somebody started the pile-on and as conservative journalist Andrew Sullivan, Max Blumenthal and others have identified, it’s clear who it was. Not people concerned about financial ties of public servants, or as MJ Rosenberg points out, people who give 2 cents about human rights, but rather those concerned with protecting the terrible status quo of unconditional US support for Israel–even when Israel shoots itself and everyone else in the foot time and time again. Others may, thankfully, have authentic concerns about human rights in China and Saudi Arabia, but they did not create this campaign.

Further, Freeman himself blamed the Israel Lobby in no uncertain terms, which means that he stepped down, clearly devastated by the personal attacks and smears about his relationship to Israel, exactly as he was meant to. This is the goal of intimidation through these full throttle attacks- just ask Jimmy Carter, or Archbishop Tutu or Bill Moyers for heaven’s sake. Even if a former Nobel-prize winning president can survive the onslaught, as painful as it has personally been for Carter, the lesson to the rest of us is clear. Don’t even try.

From Freeman’s statement:

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.”

This has been a litmus test to see if a new order of reality-based policymakers has once and for all moved back to DC after the last very long exile. The answer, for the time being, isn’t very pretty. It’s not just the Palestinians who are the most obvious losers. It’s certainly the US, but also Israel.

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