We reported last week that Senator Charles Schumer had called Rahm Emanuel to express his concern about the appointment of Chas Freeman as the head of the National Intelligence Council. Today Greg Sargent gets confirmation of this call at the Washington Post's Plum Line blog. According to Sargent,
Schumer's concerns could create serious problems for Freeman, since Schumer is a Democrat and a high-profile voice on Israel, and could give cover for other Democrats to come out and vocally raise questions about the appointment.
The source familiar with Schumer's conversation with Rahm tells me the New York Senator was concerned about Freeman's positions on Israel. "It was in a phone call to Rahm," the source says, adding that Chuck expressed reservations about Freeman's positions on Israel. "It was about Freeman's positions on the Middle East."
The source added that Chuck isn't "threatening to block him" yet, but wanted to weigh in to the White House about his concerns.
Obviously there are concerns about Freeman's views on Israel, but they have not been driving this story. What's been driving this story is Freeman's close financial ties with the Saudis and the Chinese. Also driving the story: the total lack of any pushback from the White House, which DNI spokesman Wendy Morigi said today hadn't even been aware that Blair had picked Freeman for the post. As Ben Smith writes, "The White House seems unable or unwilling to get ahead of the gathering storm on the Freeman appointment, which has been gathering for a couple of weeks now, and has yet to offer any real defense of the pick."
One hopes this is because the Obama administration is getting ready to throw Freeman under the bus. Freeman's views on China are indefensible, his ties to the Saudis are deeply problematic, and he has no particular experience in the realm of intelligence. Freeman isn't indispensable, but rather a millstone that the administration will hopefully soon cut loose. The IG has officially notified Congress of his investigation into Freeman.
This is not to say that Freeman is without his defenders. Rashid Khalidi took to the Diane Rehm show this morning to support Freeman's appointment.