Below the radar screen UPDATE Last one!

A furious battle has been going on over the last couple of weeks about the appointment of Ambassador Charles Freeman to head the office of the NIC, the entity that writes our country's National Intelligence Estimate. He has withdrawn his name apparently under pressure and/or rejection by the Obama Administration and/or Rahm Emanuel and certainly through the complaints of New York's senior senator Charles Schumer (D.-NY) and other members of Congress.In case you've missed all of this:Here is Freeman's statement about his withdrawal, the tone of which suggests he would have been the perfect person to oversee and write the estimates that guide our government's foreign policy.http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/03/10/freeman_speaks_out_on_his_exitA portion of his statement:"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."The outrageous agitation that followed the leak of my pending appointment will be seen by many to raise serious questions about whether the Obama administration will be able to make its own decisions about the Middle East and related issues. I regret that my willingness to serve the new administration has ended by casting doubt on its ability to consider, let alone decide what policies might best serve the interests of the United States rather than those of a Lobby intent on enforcing the will and interests of a foreign government."More here: http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/03/10/freeman/index.htmlHere: http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-03-10/obamarsquos-mideast-policy-smackdown/Andrew Sullivan gives a time line on the blog blow-up and provides links to the ongoing debate: http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/03/a-freeman-time.htmlVictory has been claimed by Daniel Pipes and Steven Rosen: http://www.philipweiss.org/mondoweiss/2009/03/daniel-pipes-takes-credit-for-freeman-takedown-.htmlI think Freeman's comments on Israel in this 2006 speech are what he's been tackled for. For those commentors who are glad to see him go: What in this speech do you disagree with concerning Israel, Israel and the United States and Israel and the Middle East?http://www.mepc.org/whats/mpc.asp

Margaret O’Brien Steinfels is a former editor of Commonweal. 

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