This is a good thing. Laura Rozen broke the story originally and explains the kerfuffle.
Senator Feinstein, among others, have been given the word. Charles (Chas) Freeman, former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, has been selected as chairman of the National Intelligence Council. Politico has the unclassified memo. His previous Saudi Arabia gig, though not directly, is one of the reasons he started taking incoming immediately upon the news being floated he might go to NIC, . Part of Freeman’s thinking on the Middle East (via Passport):
The erratic and often half-hearted manner in which we have pursued these goals, especially in recent years, accounts, in part, for Israel’s isolation from other states in the Middle East. The sad fact is that 60 years after the State of Israel’s founding, almost all Americans and many Europeans strongly back it, but it is still seen as illegitimate by the peoples of the region where it was established. The Arabs see Israel as an artifact of Western colonialism in their midst, an unappeasable power in perpetual search of Lebensraum at Arab expense, a cruelly oppressive sectarian occupier whose policies justify violent resistance, and the principal impetus for the radicalization of politics in both the region and the broader Muslim world. The region sees Israel as a hegemonic military threat, not as an appropriate partner in its politics, economics or culture.
These perceptions, no matter how objectionable to an American audience, represent a major failure of both American policy and the Israeli policies that the United States has facilitated and underwritten. …
[...] Overall, this is not a pretty picture. Given our substitution of talk radio for serious analysis of the sources of Muslim rage and the paralysis of our politics post 9/11, it has taken some time for our society to recognize that things have not been going well and to begin to ask what we might do to change course. …
Looks like Steve Rosen will have to pick another battle. He led the charge against Freeman, mostly based on the reality that Freeman actually criticizes Israel. Or as M.J. Rosenberg puts it: Only In America: Steve Rosen, Under Indictment, Leads Fight Against Key Obama Pick. Followed by Obama Rebuffs Neocons, Appoints Freeman.
David Rothkopf applauds the choice.
As for Mr. Peretz, well, if he’s unhappy about Freeman’s appointment, for my money it’s an inspired choice.
Steve Clemons explains why:
I think it’s increasingly clear that Barack Obama is pushing a very full spectrum range of talent and perspective into his Middle East policy team, and if Rosen and the other Israel-hardliners are going to prove anything in the campaign against Freeman, it will be their general impotence in challenging Barack Obama as flagrantly and as crudely as they are doing now.
I may not like everything Obama and his Middle East team are up to every moment, but I do think it’s exceedingly clear that he’s not going into this arena with the traditional biases and the traditional “false choice” approach that many others before him have taken.
We just might have turned a page.