Senator Charles Schumer has privately expressed concerns directly to White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel about Chas Freeman, the Obama administration’s pick to head the group that prepares some of the intel community’s most politically sensitive assessments, a person familiar with their conversation tells me.
Obama’s choice of Freeman as head of National Intelligence Council — which has aroused opposition because of his strong criticism of Israel and other things — signaled that the President isn’t afraid to buck the pro-Israel lobby and the neocon critics who aggressively opposed the Freeman pick.
But Schumer’s concerns could create serious problems for Freeman, since Schumer is a Democrat and a high-profile voice on Israel, and could give cover for other Democrats to come out and vocally raise questions about the appointment.
The source familiar with Schumer’s conversation with Rahm tells me the New York Senator was concerned about Freeman’s positions on Israel.
“It was in a phone call to Rahm,” the source says, adding that Chuck expressed reservations about Freeman’s positions on Israel. “It was about Freeman’s positions on the Middle East.”
The source added that Chuck isn’t “threatening to block him” yet, but wanted to weigh in to the White House about his concerns. Schumer spokesman Brian Fallon declined comment on the call. The Weekly Standard first reported, with no detail or sourcing, that a conversation had taken place.
This comes as the White House is signaling that they may not be willing to go to bat for Freeman. Eli Lake today reported that Freeman’s foreign ties are now being probed by an independent inspector general. Lake quoted a spokesperson for Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, who picked Freeman for the post, saying that he had done so without “White House approval.” Freeman will now undergo serious White House vetting.
This could get dicey. More soon.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Is Charles Schumer trying to get Chas Freeman Canned?
So reports Greg Sargent on his blog, The Plum Line. I do hope that this isn't accurate, but I do know that a lot of the Israel-firsters are mad as hell at Obama's choice on this one - and a lot of well-respected experts are extremely pleased with the selection. We'll see who prevails . . .
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