Talk about a failure in vetting! Dennis Blair's choice to head the National Intelligence Council and to create the critical NIEs that guide our security policies looks worse by the day. Martin Kramer gives his analysis of Freeman and finds a Saudi apologist — and a card-carrying member of the Blame America crowd:
How important has resentment of Israel been to Al Qaeda's terrorism? Here is one side of the argument, by an American who knows Saudi Arabia well:
The heart of the poison is the Israel-Palestinian conundrum. When I was in Saudi Arabia, I was told by Saudi friends that on Saudi TV there were three terrorists who came out and spoke. Essentially the story they told was that they had been recruited to fight for the Palestinians against the Israelis, but that once in the training camp, their trainers gradually shifted their focus away from the Israelis to the monarchy in Saudi Arabia and to the United States. So the recruitment of terrorists has a great deal to do with the animus that arises from that continuing and worsening situation.
And here is the opposing view, by an American who knows the Kingdom equally well:
Mr. bin Laden's principal point, in pursuing this campaign of violence against the United States, has nothing to do with Israel. It has to do with the American military presence in Saudi Arabia, in connection with the Iran-Iraq issue. No doubt the question of American relations with Israel adds to the emotional heat of his opposition and adds to his appeal in the region. But this is not his main point.
So now you've heard two sides of the debate. Who made the first statement? Charles "Chas" Freeman, former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia and the Obama administration's nominee to head the National Intelligence Council (NIC). Who made the second statement? Charles "Chas" Freeman, former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia and the Obama administration's nominee to head the National Intelligence Council (NIC).
But that's only the start of it. Kramer notes that Freeman has a particular point of view on the cause of 9/11, too. In a 2005 roundtable discussion hosted by his Middle East Policy Council (which included Professor Juan Cole), Freeman came up with yet another explanation of the attack that killed 3,000 Americans:
MR. FREEMAN: On the question of U.S. strikes on targets on Iran or elsewhere, I simply want to register what I think is an obvious point; namely that what 9/11 showed is that if we bomb people, they bomb back.
Uh, what? Starting in 1993, al-Qaeda conducted a series of attacks on American targets, including the World Trade Center, Khobar Towers, two American embassies in Africa, and the USS Cole. We didn't attempt to bomb them until 1998, when we missed them entirely, thanks to a collapse in operational security. We didn't bomb the Saudis or Yemenis at any point, the two nationalities to which Osama bin Laden can lay claim, or Egypt, where Ayman al-Zawahiri was born.
And it gets better:
In 2006, Freeman finally went the extra mile, offering this explanation for 9/11:
We have paid heavily and often in treasure for our unflinching support and unstinting subsidies of Israel's approach to managing its relations with the Arabs. Five years ago, we began to pay with the blood of our citizens here at home.
So it's our fault, not for bombing people, but for allying ourselves with a Western-style democracy which may not be perfect but far surpasses anything else in the region. Does Saudi Arabia offer more freedom and liberty to its people than Israel? Jordan? Egypt? Syria? Iran?
The central fallacy behind this thinking is that al-Qaeda is some kind of liberation movement. It's not, and neither is Hamas or Hezbollah. These are terrorist organizations looking to impose a brutal oppression on people by the imposition of shari'a over the entirety of southwest Asia, and later the entire world.
We can't have anyone this clueless in charge of our intelligence analyses. The Senate needs to tell Barack Obama in no uncertain terms to dump Chas Freeman, and fast.