There has been a lot of speculation about the downfall of Charles Freeman and what it means. I think it should be accepted that it really was all about Israel and nothing to do with China or Saudi Arabia (except that Saudi Arabia is also subsumed into the Israel issue). The Lobby and its many friends clearly were willing to go all out to get rid of Freeman. At first glance this seems curious as the position of head of the NIC is not really political and Freeman would not have been shaping policy, only providing assessments that would themselves have been team efforts, virtually guaranteeing that they would not take hard positions. So why did they initiate a full court press to destroy the man’s reputation? AIPAC’s director even kicked him when he was down, accusing him of being an anti-Semite based on his withdrawal letter.
I would be interested in hearing what other TAC bloggers think, but I now believe the most likely reason for the trashing of Freeman was that the Lobby is a bit nervous about Obama and wanted to make sure he understands who is in charge on ME policy. Hillary uncharacteristically criticized Israel on her recent visit and George Mitchell has to be an appointment that does not sit well as he might actually take his job seriously and challenge Tel Aviv. Dennis Ross, the Lobby’s great white hope, does not yet appear to be calling the shots on policy on Iran, which might be by design. The message being sent to Obama would be that no one can have a senior level position with the US government if he has criticized Israel publicly. It would appear that Obama has gotten the message loud and clear as the White House made no effort whatsoever to save Freeman.