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A Rare Israel Dissenter Pushed From Intelligence Appointment By Schumer, AIPAC Supporters

Business as usual instead of change you can believe in - and believe me, there are few foreign policy issues more pressing than dealing with the fact

Business as usual instead of change you can believe in - and believe me, there are few foreign policy issues more pressing than dealing with the fact that America's unquestioning support of Israel and its policies has been a detriment to us around the world. Thanks, Senator Schumer!

WASHINGTON — When Dennis C. Blair, the director of national intelligence, announced that he would install Charles W. Freeman Jr. in a top intelligence post, the decision surprised some in the White House who worried that the selection could be controversial and an unnecessary distraction, according to administration officials.

Just how controversial the choice would be became clear on Tuesday, when Mr. Freeman, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia under the first President Bush, angrily withdrew his name from consideration and charged that he had been the victim of a concerted campaign by what he called “the Israel lobby.”

Mr. Freeman had long been critical of Israel, with a bluntness that American officials rarely voice in public about a staunch American ally. In 2006, he warned that, “left to its own devices, the Israeli establishment will make decisions that harm Israelis, threaten all associated with them and enrage those who are not.”

So far, I'm just not having a problem with this guy.

He did not soften his tone even on Wednesday, saying in an interview that “Israel is driving itself toward a cliff, and it is irresponsible not to question Israeli policy and to decide what is best for the American people.”

The critics who led the effort to derail Mr. Freeman argued that such views reflected a bias that could not be tolerated in someone who, as chairman of the National Intelligence Council, would have overseen the production of what are supposed to be policy-neutral intelligence assessments destined for the president’s desk.

Oh yeah, I remember just how concerned AIPAC was during the Bush administration about intelligence being policy-neutral! Or was that some alternate universe I saw in a dream?

Some of Mr. Freeman’s defenders say his views on Israel are extreme only when seen through the lens of American political life, and they asked whether it was possible to question American support for Israel without being either muzzled or marginalized.

Uh, no. This has been another edition of "Simple Answers to Simple Questions."

“The reality of Washington is that our political landscape finds it difficult to assimilate any criticism of any segment of the Israeli leadership,” said Robert W. Jordan, who was ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 2001 to 2003.

The lobbying campaign against Mr. Freeman included telephone calls to the White House from prominent lawmakers, including Senator Charles E. Schumer, the New York Democrat. It appears to have been kicked off three weeks ago in a blog post by Steven J. Rosen, a former top official of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobbying group.

See, now, I find that a little odd that the Times didn't mention that Steven J. "Policy Neutral" Rosen is under federal indictment and awaiting trial for violations of the Espionage Act on behalf of Israel. Maybe it's just me, but it seems somewhat relevant.

Unless, of course, the country's most important newspaper understands that some things just aren't news, and lacks the courage to push for an actual debate on the sensitive topic of America's Israel policies and whether they're good for our country.

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