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Robert Parry: Neocons Wage War on a 'Realist'

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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 11:19 AM
Original message
Robert Parry: Neocons Wage War on a 'Realist'
Edited on Sat Mar-07-09 11:22 AM by babylonsister
Sadly, not just neocons...

Neocons Wage War on a 'Realist'

By Robert Parry
March 6, 2009

In a normal world, people in Washington might welcome the hiring of a realist to oversee the production of U.S. intelligence analyses, with the hope that even if the truth doesnt set you free, it at least might be the foundation for sound policies.

But that is not the world in which the United States finds itself. In todays Washington, the citys preeminent newspaper publishes a neoconservative attack on President Barack Obamas choice to oversee intelligence analyses because the person is a realist.

Despite having lost standing with the American people for leading them into the Iraq War and other disasters, the neocons still have a strong beachhead in the national news media and are using it to wage a nasty rear-guard battle against Obamas appointment of former U.S. Ambassador Chas W. Freeman to be chairman of the National Intelligence Council, which vets National Intelligence Estimates on threats facing the United States.

Freemans chief offense, according to The New Republics Jon Chait in a Washington Post op-ed, is that the appointee is an ideological fanatic because Freeman believes excessively in realism and fails to apply a moral filter when looking at the world.


In the wake of the Iraq War and the disastrous Bush presidency, the neocons have been driven back from their key positions in government. But they have not gone away and through their media power, they apparently hope to exercise a veto over whom President Obama can appoint to important jobs and to make sure that realism remains a dirty word.
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marmar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 11:34 AM
Response to Original message
1. He's already under attack from AIPAC and the war-mongering right.....
..... Even the increasingly tool-ish Chuck Schumer has "expressed concerns".

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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 11:35 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. The first link in the OP goes to Schumer and his 'concerns'. He should butt out. nt
Edited on Sat Mar-07-09 11:35 AM by babylonsister
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RandomThoughts Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 11:54 AM
Response to Original message
3. I think that article is about Spin Spin Spin
Edited on Sat Mar-07-09 12:08 PM by RandomThoughts
1) The Neocons like Cheney and crew are what are called non morale realist. His whole darkside comment says that.

2) Most democrats are idealist, now in the narrow scope of Israel's actions, the only way you could argue for the 'realism' is if you want to accept actions that are, yup you guessed it darkside.

3) Pressure on Israel is idealism, so there is more spinning in this. probably on 'what is morale' on Israel issue, from a Israel perspective, including ideologies.

4) It is the Democrats on the beach, and with a solid beach head, not the Neocons you spinner.
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 11:56 AM
Response to Original message
4. Sully weighs in:
Edited on Sat Mar-07-09 11:56 AM by bemildred
"I cannot see how, after the debacle of the Iraq war intelligence, a contrarian and Israel-skeptic is not an asset in an administration. Unless, of course, you still want to skew intelligence for your next war."
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 12:43 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. Larison, whom Sully references:
"This is similar to my original thoughts on the controversy. Self-lobotomization is what we seem to do best when it comes to foreign policy. Obviously, what the IG investigation of Freemans ties determines will be decisive. If the investigation finds that he has serious conflicts of interest because of his connections to the Chinese oil firm and the MEPC, the appointment should not go forward, but if not he seems well-suited to the position to which he is being appointed.

The final point about Freemans willingness to break with groupthink is the crucial point, which is why this sort of complaint is so idiotic. The charge of politicizing intelligence was that intelligence analysts were pressured by policymakers to interpret evidence in a way that fit the policy that had already been set. One of the problems with the use of intelligence before the war was that intelligence analysts interpreted what they found according to the false consensus that Iraq still possessed WMDs and WMD programs, and that the administration applied pressure to make sure that they did so. In other words, if you wanted someone who was very unlikely to fall in line with some new, politically convenient consensus about, say, Irans nuclear program, you might want to appoint someone like Freeman to run the NIC." /

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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 12:46 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. And Fallows, whom Larison references:
Edited on Sat Mar-07-09 12:47 PM by bemildred
"His first point was that Freeman was being proposed for a post within the president's discretionary appointment power, like one of his White House aides, and therefore didn't have to reflect the Senate's sense of who should be in the job. The more important point, he said, was that Freeman's longstanding contrarian inclination to challenge conventional wisdom of any sort, far from being an embarrassing liability, was exactly what a president needed from the person in this job.

A president's Secretary of State had to represent the country's policies soberly and predictably around the world. His National Security Advisor had to coordinate and evenhandedly present the views of the various agencies. His White House press secretary had to take great care in expressing the official line to the world's media each day. His Director of National Intelligence had to give him the most sober and responsible precis of what was known and unknown about potential threats.

For any of those roles, a man like Freeman might not be the prudent choice. But as head of the National Intelligence Council, my friend said, he would be exactly right. While he would have no line-operational responsibilities or powers, he would be able to raise provocative questions, to ask "What if everybody's wrong?", to force attention to the doubts, possibilities, and alternatives that normally get sanded out of the deliberative process through the magic known as "groupthink." As Dan Froomkin of NiemanWatch wrote in an item that called Freeman "A One-Man Destroyer of Groupthink,"

He has... spent a goodly part of the last 10 years raising questions that otherwise might never get answered -- or even asked -- because they're too embarrassing, awkward, or difficult.
For him to be put in charge of what calls "the intelligence community's primary big-think shop and the lead body in producing national intelligence estimates" is about the most emphatic statement the Obama Administration could possibly make that it won't succumb to the kind of submissive intelligence-community groupthink that preceded the war in Iraq."
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 12:51 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. And an interview with Freeman from 2006:
Mods, I took one full question and response, that seemed a good compromise.


Q. What is it that the enemies of the United States want?

Freemans view: The argument that they hate us for who we are is not credible. So why is it that they have a problem with us? What is their agenda? Is there any part of it that is comprehensible?

Only two people in the world actually believe that theres any possibility of a new caliphate being established, stretching from Spain to Indonesia: Osama bin Laden and George W. Bush.

So while it depends somewhat on the particular extremist, the fundamental answer is that they want to be left alone. There are no Muslim armies occupying the United States; it is we who are there, not they who are here. The fundamental demand is a measure of respect and distance.

Its not the case that they are objecting to modern technology or Pizza Hut or democracy. In fact, the extremists often argue for an Islamic democracy, an Islamic Republic. Their ideal is a democracy within the limits of the faith, much like the United States is a democracy within the limits of the Constitution. Thats why they are so fervently anti monarchist.

The majority of people in the Middle East are as opposed to the extremist agenda as we are. After all, theyre the target of it. They dont want to see the West turn its back on them. But in their region, the starting point must be their reform agenda, not ours.

The notion that understanding means acceptance or that listening means agreeing is nonsense. Its just an excuse for not making the effort to understand where others are coming from. If you can understand how others define the problems in their own region and what they think the causes are, you can begin to find antidotes to extremism that would otherwise not occur to you. You can certainly deal with things on a more realistic basis.

So, rather than simply passing along what our own politicians and pundits say -- often on the basis of nothing but the congealed prejudice of stereotypes -- that people in the Middle East want, the press should be digging into what they are actually demanding, and why.
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 01:53 PM
Response to Reply #6
10. Could we call it "self-Limbaughtomization"? nt
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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 01:25 PM
Response to Reply #4
9. And Rosenberg from TPM: //

The Effort To Block Obama's Intelligence Choice Gets Very Creepy PLUS ATTACKERMAN Defends Me Against Indictee
By M.J. Rosenberg - March 6, 2009, 11:34AM


I'm a pro-Israel Jew, who has visited Israel 50 times in 40 years. But I am, like 99.9% of American Jews, first an American.

The idea that the anti-Freeman crowd is running all over town demanding that anyone not close to Israel be banned from working in an American intelligence agency leaves me nauseated.

How dare they? It has taken 20 years to get over the Pollard spy scandal. It could take another 20 to get over Steve Rosen. Good Jewish American kids cannot get jobs in various US government agencies because some people who provide (or withhold) clearances think that American Jews have divided loyalties.

We don't. But crusades like this, not surprisingly, leave the impression that we do.

This isn't about Freeman.

It is about a group that has decided to go after him to warn the administration that only friends of the lobby are acceptable appointees. It is about a group that is so oblivious to Jewish history that it believes it can recklessly put their interests in Israel above everything else and not expect to build strong resentment in Washington (it was strong enough, even before this).

How dare they? My children are first generation (their mom, my wife, was born in a Displaced Persons camp in Germany after her parents survived the Holocaust). We love this country and will be damned if we allow anyone to convey the impression that we take it for granted.

For us, this is the "goldeneh medina" (the golden land), the best homeland Jews ever had. How dare they imply that for us it's only second best.

This whole thing is creepy. And it hurts all Jews.

It also hurts Israel, a country I love, which is being destroyed by policies these people have consistently supported. Why can't they just shut up? Haven't they done enough damage?
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 01:55 PM
Response to Reply #9
11. Well said Mr Rosenberg. nt
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laststeamtrain Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 12:24 PM
Response to Original message
5. I like the idea of a 'realist' at the daily intel meeting with the president...
which, if I understand correctly, will sometimes be the case.

Freeman's about the best that can be done at present & boy oh boy does he have all the right enemies.

I'll be really disappointed if he's sunk for this position.

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