Saturday, March 14, 2009

Top Intelligence Nominee Blames Israel Lobby For Character Assassination.

Chas Freeman is refusing to go quietly, after pro-Israeli hawks rounded on him and destroyed his chances of taking an intelligence post in the Obama administration.

However I note that CNN is repeating, without comment, the AIPAC line that "it did not actively seek his ouster." That is simply a nonsense.

AIPAC was FULLY behind the disgraceful campaign which was orchestrated against Freeman and it did so anonymously thanks to the appalling propensity of US journalists to grant anonymity in cases where no whistle blowing is taking place.

Glenn Greenwald:

Richard Silverstein wrote more than a week ago that "this coordinated attack fits Aipac’s modus operandi to a tee" and also noted the obvious: "This is Aipac laying down a marker, telling Obama that if he wants to stray from the fold on Israel this is what he can expect: war by attrition and death of policy by a thousand paper cuts. The Israel lobby desperately wants to slow down the train that is Obama’s Israel policy."

knew that AIPAC was helping to grease the wheels of the attack because it was reporters at whom AIPAC directed those secret efforts. Politico's Ben Smith even granted anonymity to what he called "a top official at one major pro-Israel organization" (which may or may not be AIPAC) merely to boast that the Freeman "victory" sent a message that "hostility" towards Israel will not be tolerated. Smith, however, also noted:
But Jewish and pro-Israel organizations largely decided not to make the fight against Freeman a public crusade, though they were the first, and fiercest, Freeman opponents and made their views known privately.

Yet reporters agreed to keep AIPAC's "private" involvement a secret by allowing them to do everything "on background," and -- far worse -- then allowed what they knew to be the false impression to be created that AIPAC had no involvement in the campaign. Instead of the truth, what we have is AIPAC insinuating (through Mark Mazzetti's article) and Fred Hiatt outright stating that Freeman's accusations of AIPAC's involvement are false and deranged -- all because journalists concealed AIPAC's involvement by agreeing to keep it all off the record and therefore pretending it didn't exist.

By granting anonymity to AIPAC as it orchestrated it's attack on Freeman, the US press has allowed AIPAC to portray Freeman's claims - that the pro-Israeli lobby were behind all the attacks on him - as deranged and vaguely anti-Semitic. I'm sure I don't need to point out how blatantly unfair that is.

Freeman is certainly not going quietly and I think the pro-Israeli hawks have done themselves more harm than good through this incident. I think they sought to send a message to the Obama administration that, for all his talk of changing things, there are certain subjects which are off limits, and that Israel is certainly one of them.

They hoped to send this message, so that it would be understood by the administration, but in a way which avoided their fingerprints ever being found on the character assassinations directed at Freeman.

So, in one respect they have succeeded, in that Freeman has stepped down, but their fingerprints are clearly all over this; and their attempt to limit all discussion of US policy as it pertains to Israel within a narrow parameter which they control is clear for all to see.

I'm not sure how much that will help them in the long run. Sure, they tried to pretend, as Blitzer repeats here, that this was as much about Saudi Arabia and China as it was about Israel, but only the seriously - and deliberately - self deluded give that point any credence.

The influence of the Israeli lobby has claimed it's first scalp but, in doing so, it has shown it's hand. And Freeman, rather than going away quietly, is touring the TV stations to make his point.

And the more AIPAC pretend that they weren't involved, the clearer it will become that they are being less than honest about this.

Anyone who even casually followed the Freeman attacks from the start knew where most of the attacks originated. Once it was over, neocons like Daniel Pipes were sending out celebratory emails hailing former AIPAC official (and accused espionage defendant) Steve Rosen as being the catalyzing force behind the anti-Freeman campaign. Dan Flesher reported that, throughout the controversy, Block himself, on behalf of AIPAC, was contacting journalists and bloggers and (while hiding behind grants of anonymity) encouraging and feeding the attacks on Freeman. Greg Sargent, who thoroughly covered the Freeman controversy from the start at his Washington Post-owned blog, wrote yesterday:

As Ben Smith, Andrew Sullivan, Max Blumenthal and others have already shown, pro-Israel forces were instrumental in turning the Freeman pick into a major controversy. Reporters who covered this closely were subjected to a barrage of info and spin from that camp.
Once Freeman was safely vanquished, even some of the lynch mob leaders, like The New Republic's Jonathan Chait, were willing to acknowledge: "Of course I recognize that the Israel lobby is powerful, and was a key element in the pushback against Freeman."
One can only successfully work in the shadows as long as no-one knows what you are doing. So I would say that, in this case, AIPAC has utterly blown it.

They may be claiming that Freeman is being deranged and unhinged when he states that they were behind the campaign against him, but there is more than enough evidence which clearly shows that Freeman is telling the truth and that they are being disingenuous.

In the long run that can only harm them.


Steel Phoenix said...

It just proves that if voting changed anything, they wouldn't let us do it. It is a sad day when a leader can't stand up and say they are against a foreign nation and have it used as proof that he is unfit for the job. How can we ever fix the flaws in the system if we are not allowed to have the opinion that they are flaws? This is why we need to allow felons to vote. This is why we need to allow politicians to have opinions counter to those of Congress.

Kel said...

Amen, SP. It's scandalous that one must prove that one feels a certain way about a foreign country before one is considered fit to serve in your own nation's government.