A dozen members of Congress want an inspector general's review of Charles Freeman's financial ties to the Saudi Arabian government. Freeman is President Barack Obama's selection to be chairman of the National Intelligence Council.
Freeman was ambassador to Saudi Arabia during the 1990s and went on to run a think tank that receives money from the Saudi Arabian government called the Middle East Policy Council. He also has drawn criticism for harsh statements about Israel.
The letter to Edward Maguire, inspector general in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, focused on the Saudi connection, citing a 2006 statement from Freeman in which he praised "the generosity of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia" for creating an endowment for the Policy Council.
"We ask you to fully investigate Amb. Freeman's past and current relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – both personal financial disclosures and the list of all contributors to the Middle East Policy Council across all years that Amb. Freeman drew a salary from the foundation – and report back to Congress on any potential conflicts of interest."
The letter was signed by Republicans Michele Bachmann (MN) John Boehner (OH), Eric Cantor and Frank Wolf of Virginia, Bob Inglis (SC), Mark Kirk (IL), Doug Lamborn (CO), Leonard Lance (NJ) Patrick McHenry and Sue Myrick of North Carolina and Mike Rogers of Michigan. Joining them was Democrat Shelley Berkely (NV).
Meanwhile, Wolf has written his own letter, this one to President Obama, urging him to reconsider his choice of Freeman. Among Wolf's concerns is Freeman's work on an advisory board of the China National Offshore Oil Corp., of which the Chinese government is a major stakeholder. The company has a "substantial investment in Sudan's oil sector has served as the lifeline to the regime of President Omar al Bashir, recently indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity."
New Republic blogger Jeffrey Goldberg noted that Freeman felt the worst thing China did during the Tiananmen Square massacre was "the failure to intervene on a timely basis to nip the demonstrations in the bud, rather than -- as would have been both wise and efficacious -- to intervene with force when all other measures had failed to restore domestic tranquility to Beijing and other major urban centers in China."
A good set of links to all sides in the Freeman debate can be found here.