“Harper’s Magazine,” a very liberal monthly, has this piece offering another perspective—similar to mine—about the way many used Chas Freeman’s relationship with the Middle East Policy Council, which receives some of its funding from Saudi Arabia—to derail his appointment as Director of the National Intelligence Council…
Chas Freeman and Saudi Money
One of the most common charges hurled by the opponents of Charles Freeman Jr., who yesterday withdrew as chair of the Obama administration’s National Intelligence Council, was that he “headed a Saudi-funded Middle East advocacy group in Washington.” I’ve written about the influence of money on think tanks and think it’s a valid point of concern, but let’s put this assertion in perspective.
Freeman headed the Middle East Policy Council. I’m not sure how much Saudi money flows to the think tank, but it can’t be much. I checked the firm’s non-profit disclosure form for 2007 and its total receipts for the year were $731,000, and it had assets of $1.3 million. Freeman was paid $87,000 that year.
Compare that to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a conservative think tank that is overwhelmingly supportive of Israel and whose board includes Henry Kissinger, Alexander Haig and Martin Peretz. Its receipts for 2007 came to $11.9 million, and it had $26.5 million in assets. Robert Satloff, the institute’s executive director, was paid $307,000. Dennis Ross, now the Obama administration’s special adviser on Iran, was paid $208,000 for duties as a “Distinguished Fellow.”
UPDATE: Here’s a column from Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed in the March 17 issue of Asharq Alawsat. He takes a far harsher line on the subject of the ‘Israeli Lobby’ than I would, giving it far more power than it has. Freeman brought down lightning from every group and individual who has strong feelings about Israel—and China, for that matter. I simply do not see the organized effort that could realistically be laid at the feet of any ‘lobby’. Rather, Freeman had too many enemies on too many fronts and too few friends to support him.