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Senators say Freeman's claims false

March 13, 2009 at 10:17 AM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, March 13 (UPI) -- Claims that pro-Israel lobbying groups scuttled Charles Freeman's appointment as National Intelligence Council chief are untrue, several U.S. senators said.

Freeman, tapped by Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair for the post, withdrew this week after seven Republican members of the Senate Intelligence Committee sent a letter to Blair protesting the appointment. In an e-mail message to reporters, Freeman blamed the "Israel Lobby" for derailing his appointment, claiming the lobby aims to "control of the policy process through the exercise of a veto over the appointment of people who dispute the wisdom of its views."

Republicans on the committee told The Hill that pro-Israel lobbyists had nothing to do with their opposition to Freeman, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

"When you see someone make those kind of statements that's going to be in that position and was unqualified to be there in the first place -- it was the wrong appointment," said Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., one of the committee Republicans who signed the letter to Blair.

Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., said Freeman's accusations against pro-Israel lobbying groups were ill-advised.

"Unfortunately Ambassador Freeman is suffering from some kind of delusion," Bond said to The Hill. "I think a lot of people objected to his previous statements regardless of any lobbying."

Bond told the Washington publication he had no contact with American Israel Public Affairs Committee and said hadn't heard of two Jewish groups that opposed Freeman's nomination.

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