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Did Chuck Schumer kill the Freeman appointment?

Did Sen. Charles Schumer, as the New York Democrat seems to imply here, kill the appointment of Chas Freeman to chair the NIC? Not so, said Freeman by e-mail: “Schumer deserves no credit. This was between me and [DNI Adm. Dennis] Blair and for the reasons stated.” “Schumer didn’t need anyone to tell him” Freeman ...

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Did Sen. Charles Schumer, as the New York Democrat seems to imply here, kill the appointment of Chas Freeman to chair the NIC?

Not so, said Freeman by e-mail: “Schumer deserves no credit. This was between me and [DNI Adm. Dennis] Blair and for the reasons stated.”

“Schumer didn’t need anyone to tell him” Freeman was problematic, said one former official at a pro-Israel group. “He’s been in the business a long time, and he’s got good staff. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t call AIPAC for research material.” (An Aipac official told the New York Times that the group “had not taken a formal position on Mr. Freeman’s selection and had not lobbied Congress members to oppose it.”)
 
“Freeman’s resignation leaves big unanswered questions,” the former lobby group official continued. “Was the White House blindsided with this appointment because Blair never cleared the choice of his old friend or give Team Obama a chance to vet him? The result is Blair handed a big gift to the administration’s enemies.”

 
The controversy surrounding the appointment shows that the Obama administration “forgot number one what vetting is supposed to be about,” a former Hill foreign policy staffer said. It’s not, as has recently been employed on multiple would-be nominees, he continued, “about having IRS lawyers” searching through decades of receipts. “It’s a classic vet,” about whether someone has perceived or actual baggage or conflicts of interest.
 
“For the record: I have never sought to be paid or accepted payment from any foreign government, including Saudi Arabia or China, for any service, nor have I ever spoken on behalf of a foreign government, its interests, or its policies,” Freeman said in a statement Tuesday. “I have never lobbied any branch of our government for any cause, foreign or domestic. I am my own man, no one else’s, and with my return to private life, I will once again – to my pleasure – serve no master other than myself.”
 
Freeman’s withdrawal “is terrible news for anyone who had hoped that the Obama Administration stands tough-minded, rational, probing, and, yes, brutally honest about the life threatening challenges out there,” wrote veteran Washington observer Chris Nelson in his eponymous Nelson Report. “If it turns out the White House pulled the plug on Freeman because of political pressure…shame on it.  If it turns out Blair didn’t have the guts to stick with his guy…shame on him. If it turns out Freeman just couldn’t stomach any more lies from Capitol Hill and the established media, not to mention the blogs, shame on us all.”

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images News

Laura Rozen writes The Cable daily at ForeignPolicy.com.

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