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EDITORIAL: Rep. Wolf blasts intel aide
Congressman Frank R. Wolf of Virginia has sent a letter to President Obama, a copy of which The Washington Times obtained exclusively, that expresses his “deep concern regarding the appointment of Chas W. Freeman Jr. as chairman of the National Intelligence Council.” Rep. Wolf noted as “particularly disturbing” Mr. Freeman’s service on the board of the China National Offshore Oil Cooperative (CNOOC), the majority stakeholder of which is “the communist government of China.”
Wolf stated that China poses “an increasing national security threat to the United States” and noted that in 2006 four computers in his office were hacked by attacks originating in the People’s Republic of China.
Wolf, who is co-chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, also noted Freeman’s flippant characterization of March 2008 protests in Tibet as a “race riot” and drew attention to CNOOC’s “substantial investment in Sudan’s oil sector,” which has “served as the lifeline to the regime of President Omar al Bashir,” now indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity. He also highlights CNOOC connections with Iran and Burma, noting that the activities of these countries, and Iran in particular, “starkly contrast with the national security interests of the United States.”
Freeman has for many years served in a paid position as president of the Middle East Policy Council, an organization that has kept its donor list secret but which Wolf notes is “a think-tank funded by Saudi Arabia.” He asks how Freeman can be expected to effectively meet the challenge of Wahabbist inspired radicalism “after taking home years of paychecks from the Saudis.”
Wolf concludes that “the evidence strongly suggests that Freeman is not the right person” to head the National Intelligence Council and that “for the good of our country” President Obama should reconsider his choice. In a hand-written addendum Mr. Wolf states, “THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.”
Freeman’s private sector dealings have recently became the subject of an inspector general’s investigation, as first reported Thursday in The Washington Times. As we have stated in these pages, Freeman’s potential for conflicts of interest is too great to ignore.
Freeman could not serve as an impartial, honest broker in the intelligence process. He has a strong public record of controversial policy views, most notably his deep-seated bias against Israel, his blame-the-victim belief that U.S. policies in the Middle East contributed to causing the 9/11 attacks, and his weak description of the violent Chinese crackdown on pro-freedom demonstrators at Tiananmen Square in 1989 as “overly cautious.” It would be difficult to trust the objectivity of the National Intelligence Estimates that would emerge under his purview, given his well known and hotly defended biases.
Freeman would also not enjoy the trust of our key allies in the Middle East and Asia. Strategic partners such as Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and Israel would be wary of working with the U.S. intelligence community, which would hamper the Obama administration’s cherished goal of increased multilateralism in the conduct of our foreign diplomacy and national security policy.
With this letter, Mr. Wolf adds his name to the growing list of congressman and other important officials who have expressed their misgivings at this unfortunate appointment. The post of director of the NIC does not require Senate confirmation, but nothing prevents Congress from holding hearings to inquire into Freeman’s fitness for office as part of its established intelligence oversight process. We again urge Congress to investigate this appointment and its implications for U.S. national security. There are too many red flags for comfort. Surely in our vast national security bureaucracy there is some other qualified individual who does not bring Freeman’s substantial baggage.
We concur with Mr. Wolf’s assertion that THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.
By John R. Bolton
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