“Few challenges facing America and the world are more urgent than combating climate change.The science is beyond dispute and the facts are clear.”
— PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA, NOVEMBER 19 , 2008
With all due respect Mr. President, that is not true.
We, the undersigned scientists, maintain that the case for alarm regarding climate change is grossly overstated. Surface temperature changes over the past century have been episodic and modest and there has been no net global warming for over a decade now.1,2 After controlling for population growth and property values, there has been no increase in damages from severe weather-related events.3 The computer models forecasting rapid temperature change abjectly fail to explain recent climate behavior.4 Mr. President, your characterization of the scientific facts regarding climate change and the degree of certainty informing the scientific debate is simply incorrect.
- Syun Akasofu, Ph.D, University Of Alaska
- Arthur G. Anderson, Ph.D, Director Of Research, IBM (retired)
- Charles R. Anderson, Ph.D, Anderson Materials Evaluation
- J. Scott Armstrong, Ph.D, University Of Pennsylvania
- Robert Ashworth, Clearstack LLC
- Ismail Baht, Ph.D, University Of Kashmir
- Colin Barton Csiro, (retired)
- David J. Bellamy, OBE, The British Natural Association
- John Blaylock, Los Alamos National Laboratory (retired)
- Edward F. Blick, Ph.D, University Of Oklahoma (emeritus)
- Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen, Ph.D, University Of Hull
- Bob Breck Ams, Broadcaster Of The Year 2008
- John Brignell, University Of Southampton (emeritus)
- Mark Campbell, Ph.D, U.S. Naval Academy
- Robert M. Carter, Ph.D, James Cook University
- Ian Clark, Ph.D, Professor, Earth Sciences University Of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada
- Roger Cohen, Ph.D, Fellow, American Physical Society
- Paul Copper, Ph.D, Laurentian University (emeritus)
- Piers Corbyn, MS, Weather Action
- Richard S. Courtney, Ph.D, Reviewer, Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change
- Uberto Crescenti, Ph.D, Past-President, Italian Geological Society
- Susan Crockford, Ph.D, University Of Victoria
- Joseph S. D’aleo, Fellow, American Meteorological Society
- James Demeo, Ph.D, University Of Kansas (retired)
- David Deming, Ph.D, University Of Oklahoma
- Diane Douglas, Ph.D, Paleoclimatologist
- David Douglass, Ph.D, University Of Rochester
- Robert H. Essenhigh, E.G. Bailey Emeritus, Professor Of Energy Conversion, The Ohio State University
- Christopher Essex, Ph.D, University Of Western Ontario
- John Ferguson, Ph.D, University Of Newcastle
- Upon Tyne, (retired)
- Eduardo Ferreyra, Argentinian Foundation For A Scientific Ecology
- Michael Fox, Ph.D, American Nuclear Society
- Gordon Fulks, Ph.D, Gordon Fulks And Associates
- Lee Gerhard, Ph.D, State Geologist, Kansas (retired)
- Gerhard Gerlich, Ph.D, Technische Universitat Braunschweig
- Ivar Giaever, Ph.D, Nobel Laureate, Physics
- Albrecht Glatzle, Ph.D, Scientific Director, Inttas (Paraguay)
- Wayne Goodfellow, Ph.D, University Of Ottawa
- James Goodridge, California State Climatologist, (retired)
- Laurence Gould, Ph.D, University Of Hartford
- Vincent Gray, Ph.D, New Zealand Climate Coalition
- William M. Gray, Ph.D, Colorado State University
- Kenneth E. Green, D.Env., American Enterprise Institute
- Kesten Green, Ph.D, Monash University
- Will Happer, Ph.D, Princeton University
- Howard C. Hayden, Ph.D, University Of Connecticut, (emeritus)
- Ben Herman, Ph.D, University Of Arizona, (emeritus)
- Martin Hertzberg, Ph.D, U.S. Navy, (retired)
- Doug Hoffman, Ph.D, Author, The Resilient Earth
- Bernd Huettner, Ph.D.
- Ole Humlum, Ph.D, University Of Oslo
- A. Neil Hutton, Past President, Canadian Society Of Petroleum Geologists
- Craig D. Idso, Ph.D, Center For The Study Of Carbon Dioxide And Global Change
- Sherwood B. Idso, Ph.D, U.S. Department Of Agriculture (retired)
- Kiminori Itoh, Ph.D, Yokohama National University
- Steve Japar, Ph.D, Reviewer, Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change
- Sten Kaijser, Ph.D, Uppsala University, (emeritus)
- Wibjorn Karlen, Ph.D, University Of Stockholm, (emeritus)
- Joel Kauffman, Ph.D, University Of The Sciences, Philadelphia, (emeritus)
- David Kear, Ph.D, Former Director-General, Nz Dept. Scientific And Industrial Research
- Richard Keen, Ph.D, University Of Colorado
- Dr. Kelvin Kemm, Ph.D, Lifetime Achievers Award, National Science And Technology Forum, South Africa
- Madhav Khandekar, Ph.D, Former Editor, Climate Research
- Robert S. Knox, Ph.D, University Of Rochester (emeritus)
- James P. Koermer, Ph.D, Plymouth State University
- Gerhard Kramm, Ph.D, University Of Alaska Fairbanks
- Wayne Kraus, Ph.D, Kraus Consulting
- Olav M. Kvalheim, Ph.D, Univ. Of Bergen
- Roar Larson, Ph.D, Norwegian University Of Science And Technology
- James F. Lea, Ph.D.
- Douglas Leahy, Ph.D, Meteorologist
- Peter R. Leavitt, Certified Consulting Meteorologist
- David R. Legates, Ph.D, University of Delaware
- Richard S. Lindzen, Ph.D, Massachusetts Institute Of Technology
- Harry F. Lins, Ph.D. Co-Chair, IPCC Hydrology and Water Resources Working Group
- Anthony R. Lupo, Ph.D, University Of Missouri
- Howard Maccabee, Ph.D, MD Clinical Faculty, Stanford Medical School
- Horst Malberg, Ph.D, Free University of Berlin
- Bjorn Malmgren, Ph.D, Goteburg University (emeritus)
- Jennifer Marohasy, Ph.D, Australian Environment Foundation
- James A Marusek, U.S. Navy, (retired)
- Ross Mckitrick, Ph.D, University Of Guelph
- Patrick J. Michaels, Ph.D, University Of Virginia
- Timmothy R. Minnich, MS, Minnich And Scotto, Inc.
- Asmunn Moene, Ph.D, Former Head, Forecasting Center, Meteorological Institute, Norway
- Michael Monce, Ph.D, Connecticut College
- Dick Morgan, Ph.D, Exeter University, (emeritus)
- Nils-axel Morner, Ph.D, Stockholm University, (emeritus)
- David Nowell, D.I.C., Former Chairman, Nato Meteorology Canada
- Cliff Ollier, D.Sc., University Of Western Australia
- Garth W. Paltridge, Ph.D, University Of Tasmania
- Alfred Peckarek, Ph.D, St. Cloud State University
- Dr. Robert A. Perkins, P.E. University Of Alaska
- Ian Pilmer, Ph.D, University Of Melbourne (emeritus)
- Brian R. Pratt, Ph.D, University Of Saskatchewan
- John Reinhard, Ph.D, Ore Pharmaceuticals
- Peter Ridd, Ph.D, James Cook University
- Curt Rose, Ph.D, Bishop’s University (emeritus)
- Peter Salonius, M.Sc., Canadian Forest Service
- Gary Sharp, Ph.D, Center For Climate/Ocean Resources Study
- Thomas P. Sheahan, Ph.D, Western Technologies, Inc.
- Alan Simmons, Author, The Resilient Earth
- Roy N. Spencer, Ph.D, University Of Alabama-Huntsville
- Arlin Super, Ph.D, Retired Research Meteorologist, U.S. Dept. Of Reclamation
- George H. Taylor, MS, Applied Climate Services
- Eduardo P. Tonni, Ph.D, Museo De La Plata, (Argentina)
- Ralf D. Tscheuschner, Ph.D.
- Dr. Anton Uriarte, Ph.D, Universidad Del Pais Vasco
- Brian Valentine, Ph.D, U.S. Department Of Energy
- Gosta Walin, Ph.D, University Of Gothenburg, (emeritus)
- Gerd-Rainer Weber, Ph.D, Reviewer, Intergovernmenal Panel On Climate Change
- Forese-Carlo Wezel, Ph.D, Urbino University
- Edward T. Wimberley, Ph.D, Florida Gulf Coast University
- Miklos Zagoni, Ph.D, Reviewer, Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change
- Antonio Zichichi, Ph.D, President, World Federation Of Scientists
- Swanson, K.L., and A. A. Tsonis. Geophysical Research Letters, in press: DOI:10.1029/2008GL037022.
- Brohan, P., et al. Journal of Geophysical Research, 2006: DOI: 10.1029/2005JD006548. Updates at http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature.
- Pielke, R. A. Jr., et al. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 2005: DOI: 10.1175/BAMS-86-10-1481.
- Douglass, D. H., et al. International Journal of Climatology, 2007: DOI: 10.1002/joc.1651.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
To put this in a different perspective, consider this. The median home price in the United States was $180,000 by year-end 2008. So the national debt burden is now close to the median cost of a home, which most people finance with a 30-year mortgage. Obviously, federal tax paying households cannot handle a double-mortgage. So the debt will have to be deferred down the generations, with each generation chipping away at the block. Progress can only be made when the government stops borrowing, and there are no signs of that stopping right now.
The longer it takes to pay it off, the more expensive it becomes. In 2008, our interest payments were $500 billion, folks. It will be larger for 2009. So that means in two years, we will have shifted over $1 trillion of our resources away from productive means in order to pay interest on debt alone, all while the overall principle balance continues to increase because the government won’t stop borrowing and spending. Is this sinking in, yet? Are you following me? It gets worse. We will…I guarandamnfuckingtee it…we will be printing money because investors, both national and international, are becoming increasingly wary of our economic health. And when we can’t sell enough debt to fund the government’s hunger, we are forced to monetize debt by printing more money. You know what happens after the money printing presses stop smoking? I-N-F-L-A-T-I-O-N!!
You wanna know why the government is frantic to generate new sources of revenue? Because it’s running out of money!! Unemployment is on the rise. Business investment has plummeted. Trillions of dollars in wealth has disappeared within one year from the major stock exchanges. And the recession is spreading on a global scale. And all the government can think about is more government and the advancement of a sinister agenda aimed directly at our liberties. After the government has exhausted all external sources of income, it will be forced to fire up the printing presses at an unprecedented rate. And when that happens…lights out, New York, just like in Atlas Shrugged.
It’s a roller coaster ride headed straight to Hell, and this ride doesn’t have an emergency stop switch. It’s a shitball rolling downhill faster and faster, engulfing everything in its path!! That’s right! WE – ARE – FUCKED!!
We are so unbelievably fucked that I can’t believe we have yet to take the streets with our fists clinched. Somebody, somewhere has got to do something! I don’t know what that something is but I don’t feel liable at all for this national debt. I didn’t vote for it. I didn’t ask for it. I haven’t benefited from it, and I know it is morally wrong and economically unsustainable to sack our future generations with this debt. But we have nowhere to hide!
One day the piper will have to be paid, and the piper ain’t very nice. We’re talking China, Russia, OPEC, we got Communists crawling all over Central and South America…you name it. We have sold this country down the river with Satan manning the oars. Fuck you, Washington, DC. FUCK YOU TO HELL!!! So help me God I will avenge the sins the Baby Boomer generation has inflicted upon my generation and those behind me. You 1960s Communist rejects can kiss my mother fucking ass.
By Jack Coleman (Bio | Archive)December 15, 2008 – 15:13 ET
Must have been that full moon. Or “fool full moon” as Rachel Maddow stumbled in referring to it.
If the Newseum is accepting suggestions for exhibits, a possibility comes to mind — the Pantheon of Unfortunate Punditry. First submission — Maddow’s hilarious revisionism of Herbert Hoover on her MSNBC show Friday. I’ve watched the segment several times, each time in awe at Maddow’s supreme confidence, unrivalled since Ted Baxter in his heyday. I plan to preserve it for posterity, to share with my children as a cautionary tale — This is what happens when a person makes an utter fool of herself in public.
Maddow told of Vice President Dick Cheney visiting Capitol Hill earlier in the week and warning congressional Republicans that if the GOP blocks the auto bailout, “… We will be known as the party of Herbert Hoover forever,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
Here’s where Maddow kicked into gear, emboldened by the keen awareness that nearly all her viewers and hardly anyone at MSNBC know enough history to refute her assertions —
That’s a bad thing! Hoover is a political epithet in bad economic times because his response to the Depression (pause) was to first do nothing and then do stuff that made it worse. The country needed massive federal spending to stimulate demand and keep people working.
Hoover cut spending.The government had an economic responsibility to borrow some money and get credit moving. Hoover picked that awesome time to balance the budget. Everything was going the wrong direction economically, so the government needed to make some big, bold moves in the opposite direction.
Hoover picked that time to proclaim his own impotence, telling Congress in 1930, ‘Economic depression cannot be cured by legislative action or executive pronouncement.’ (Maddow holds photo of Hoover to her face and mimics him) I’m Herbert Hoover, I can’t do anything helpful. How about I hurt the economy some more instead because of my dumb, moralistic, ideologically-driven, ignorant, short-term, self-serving, bad ideas? I’ll take this Depression and make it not just good, but great! That’s the ticket — the Great Depression!
What made Maddow’s puppetry all the more insipid is that she’s been on a tear of late condemning — you guessed it — revisionist history, specifically where she sees it emanating from the Bush administration on Iraq. Maddow has apparently decided to fight firefighters with fire, responding to her fantasies of revisionism where none exist and providing examples of the real thing.
For example, her claim that Hoover “cut” spending. By this, Maddow must mean Hoover did not increase federal spending at a rate preferred by liberals, who have resorted to this rhetorical sleight of hand for decades.
But as conservatives and Republicans are well aware, Hoover did the opposite — he increased spending, and not by a little.
In his book “The Herbert Hoover Story,” written by Reader’s Digest senior editor Eugene Lyons and published in 1959, Lyons wrote this about Hoover’s alleged tightwad tendencies —
He sought to provide jobs through public works; more was spent for this purpose in his administration than in the preceding thirty-six years, including the building of the Panama Canal. (emphasis in the original)
Surely Maddow has heard of at least one of these projects, which bears the name of the man instrumental in initiating it — the Hoover Dam — the largest public-works behemoth of the era. Other public projects begun by Hoover include the San Francisco Bay Bridge and the Los Angeles Aqueduct.
How’s this for irony? Hoover’s response to the stock market crash in 1929 was to call for massive federal spending on public works, which is exactly what Maddow wants Obama to do (though Maddow prefers to fetishize it as “infrastructure,” a word she can’t utter without squirming in her seat).
In an Oct. 5 article for National Review Online, Jonah Goldberg wrote —
William Leuchtenburg, possibly the greatest authority on the FDR era, wrote some years ago, “Almost every historian now recognizes that the image of Hoover as a ‘do-nothing’ president is inaccurate.”
After the stock market crash in 1929, Hoover browbeat business leaders to keep wages and prices high. He invested heavily in public works projects. He pushed for an international moratorium on debts. He created the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, which later became a home for many of FDR’s Brain Trusters. Hoover increased farm subsidies enormously.
Some of Hoover’s interventions were good but ineffectual. A few were very, very bad and very effective.
In 1932, Hoover in effect repealed Calvin Coolidge’s tax cuts, increasing the rates for the poorest taxpayers by more than 100 percent and hiking the top rate from 25 percent to 63 percent. Worse, contrary to his own better instincts, Hoover signed the disastrous Smoot-Hawley trade bill that raised protectionist walls at precisely the moment the world needed trade the most.
That Maddow knows little of Hoover is not surprising, despite the fact she earned a doctorate — in political science at that — from Oxford. For many liberals, American history starts on March 4, 1933 with Roosevelt’s inauguration and FDR uttering the words, “We have nothing to fear …”
But you’d think their knowledge of history would extend a tad earlier, to include the 1932 campaign and Roosevelt’s criticism of Hoover — as a spendthrift hellbent on enlarging the breadth and cost of goverment. Doing so, however, could prove problematic for liberals’ foremost creation myth — that Hoover caused the Great Depression, “Did Nothing” in response, and Roosevelt rode to the rescue. As mythology goes, this one is Homeric in its longevity and as accurate in its depiction of actual events.
Here’s what Roosevelt said in accepting the Democratic presidential nomination —
I know something of taxes. For three long years I have been going up and down this country preaching that government — federal and local and state — costs too much. As an immediate program of action we must abolish useless offices. We must eliminate unnecessary functions of government — functions, in fact, that are not definitely essential to the continuance of government. We must merge, we must consolidate subdivisions of government, and, like the private citizen, give up luxuries which we can no longer afford.
Roosevelt’s concern was understandable, given the nation’s economic crisis and federal spending under Hoover. As pointed out by former Business Week bureau chief Andrew W. Wilson in a Nov. 4 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, “Five Myths About the Great Depression” —
After declining or holding steady through most of the 1920, federal spending soared between 1929 and 1932 — increasing by more than 50 percent, the biggest increase in federal spending ever recorded during peacetime.
I mentioned Maddow’s commentary to a friend over the weekend, who told me he’d also seen it. That’s the perception of Hoover, he sighed, and my friend was right. Just as it was global “perception” for millennia that the world was flat. Agreed, perception often trumps reality in politics, but perception cannot trump truth. This remains as true today it was in 1774 when a Boston lawyer named John Adams pointed out the stubborn nature of facts while defending British soldiers from an earlier pernicious perception.
Updated by N. Sheppard at 2:50 PM: To confirm what Andrew W. Wilson wrote on November 4, and to demonstrate just how wrong Maddow is about spending under Hoover, all one need do is examine the Historical Tables of the U.S. Budget available at OMB.
What most folks — especially liberals! — don’t understand today is that prior to the Great Depression, the U.S. government didn’t like to spend a lot of money except in times of war. As such, spending declined precipitously in the years following World War I, and then basically remained flat from 1924 through 1928.
Then, contrary to Maddow’s assertion, in 1929 spending rose $166 million, or 5.6 percent. This may not seem much, but it was the biggest increase in spending since the end of World War I.
The following year, spending increased $193 million, or 6 percent. In 1931, it increased $257 million, or 7.7 percent. In 1932, it increased $1.08 billion, or 30 percent.
Add it all up, and annual spending increased by almost $1.7 billion dollars or 57 percent while Hoover was President.
Is this what Maddow believes to be a spending cut?
Rachel Maddow Still Can’t Get it Right About Hoover
How can you tell when MSNBC cable-show host Rachel Maddow utters falsehoods about Herbert Hoover? If she talks about him.This is becoming enough of a pattern for Maddow, as I’ve described previously at NewsBusters, to border on the pathological.Here she goes again, this time during her show Friday night while condemning Republicans calling for a “freeze” on federal spending for the rest of the fiscal year —
You know who else had the excellent idea to freeze government spending during a recession? This guy! (holds up photo of Hoover) H.H., President Herbert Hoover. His fundamental misunderstanding of how to shore up a failing economy was so celebrated that the great armies of homeless and jobless Americans gave him naming rights for the shanty towns where they all lived in cardboard boxes and burned-out cars during the Great Depression — Hoovervilles. Hoovervilles. And now, (House Minority Leader) John Boehner and congressional Republicans are advocating the same policy.
Enboldened by smarm, Maddow went on to say —
In this context (referring to the recession), the Republicans are proposing a spending freeze. They’re saying the government should stop spending. And also, rather than put your house fire out with water, they’re going to switch the liquid in the firehose over to gasoline.
Much like that alleged tightwad Hoover during the Depression. Maddow at the same fire resolutely douses the blaze with water, regardless of whether it was electrical in origin.
Certain left-wing myths are so impervious to reality — McCarthy chasing phantom communists, Reagan as amiable dunce, the doomed surge in Iraq — that arguing with liberals about these sacrosanct beliefs is like trying to convert house plants. The best you can do is open them to sunlight.
When it comes to federal spending during Hoover’s single term in office, 1929 to 1933, what actually happened? According to the Office of Budget and Management Web site, Table 1.1, just the opposite of what Maddow repeatedly claims.
Federal spending increased $166 million in 1929, or 5 percent. In 1930, it rose by $193 million over the preceding year, at 6 percent. The pattern continued in 1931, with an increase of $257 million, nearly 8 percent. And for 1932, it rose a whopping 30 percent, by $1.08 billion. All told, federal spending increased 57 percent in this four-year period, according to the OMB.
It was a “freeze” on spending much the way bitter cold is evidence of global warming, another laughable claim from the left. Not surprisingly, Maddow relies on anecdote to make her shabby claim — shanty towns dubbed “Hoovervilles” during the Depression — instead of the “empirical evidence” she touted but never produced, given its pie-in-face potential for besmirking her dogma.
Maddow also gets it wrong about what current-day Republicans in Congress are proposing — they want to “freeze” spending, which beyond MSNBC is universally understood to mean maintaining spending at current levels. This is hardly suggesting we “stop” spending. An actual example of a politician determined to follow Hoover’s lead by vastly increasing federal spending in an economic slump? Barack Obama.
Foreign ties of nominee questioned
An independent inspector general will look into the foreign financial ties of Chas W. Freeman Jr., the Obama administration’s pick to serve as chairman of the group that prepares the U.S. intelligence community’s most sensitive assessments, according to three congressional aides.
The director of national intelligence, Dennis C. Blair, last Thursday named Mr. Freeman, a veteran former diplomat, to the chairmanship of the National Intelligence Council, known inside the government as the NIC. In that job, Mr. Freeman will have access to some of America’s most closely guarded secrets and be charged with overseeing the drafting of the consensus view of all 16 intelligence agencies.
His selection was praised by some who noted his articulateness and experience as U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia and a senior envoy to China and other nations. But it sparked concerns among some members of Congress from both parties, who asked the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s inspector general, Edward McGuire, to investigate Mr. Freeman’s potential conflicts of interest.
Mr. Freeman has not submitted the financial disclosure forms required of all candidates for senior public positions, according to the general counsel’s office of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Nor did Mr. Blair seek the White House’s approval before he announced the appointment of Mr. Freeman, said Mr. Blair’s spokeswoman, Wendy Morigi.
“The director did not seek the White House’s approval,” Ms. Morigi said. “In addition to his formal background security investigation, we expect that the White House will undertake the typical vetting associated with senior administration assignments.”
Among the areas likely to be scrutinized in the vetting process are Mr. Freeman’s position on the international advisory board of the China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC). The Chinese government and other state-owned companies own a majority stake in the concern, which has invested in Sudan and other countries sometimes at odds with the United States, including Iran.
Mr. Freeman is also president of the nonprofit educational organization Middle East Policy Council (MEPC), which paid him $87,000 in 2006, and received at least $1 million from a Saudi prince. He also has chaired Projects International, a consulting firm that has worked with foreign companies and governments.
Lindsay Hamilton, a spokeswoman for Rep. Steve Israel, a Democrat from New York who sits on the House Appropriations Committee’s select intelligence oversight panel that funds the classified budgets for the intelligence community, said her boss had been in touch with Mr. McGuire, who was appointed by the first director of national intelligence, John D. Negroponte.
“Congressman Israel spoke with DNI inspector McGuire. The inspector said he would look into the matter. And the congressman is pleased with his response.” Two other congressional aides also said the inspector general would start his inquiries soon.
Ms. Morigi said only that Mr. McGuire was “reviewing the letter.”
The ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Rep. Peter Hoekstra, Michigan Republican, said the questions arising from Mr. Freeman’s past associations and business relationships should disqualify him from the NIC post.
“What kind of vetting process did Blair go through on this?” he asked. He added that the disclosures about Mr. Freeman’s relationships “may give Blair an out now. If he is on the board of these kinds of companies, it may provide a rather easy out to disqualify him.”
Topping the list of concerns will be Mr. Freeman’s links to CNOOC. He joined the board of international advisers for the Chinese concern in March 2004, one year before the company made an unsuccessful bid to purchase the American energy company Unocal. Since then, CNOOC has been a source of worry for lawmakers from both parties as well as the Treasury Department as it looks to discourage oil field investment in Iran.
The State Department looked into whether CNOOC violated the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act at the end of 2007 when the company announced a deal to help develop the North Pars gas field.
President Obama has supported sanctions against businesses investing in Iran. In August, his campaign put out a press release titled: “What McCain Won’t Tell You About Iran,” highlighting the lobbying work for CNOOC by Charlie Black, a strategist for Republican presidential candidate John McCain.
“CNOOC is among those companies that appears to be capitalizing on the U.S.-led effort to isolate Iran economically, particularly in the energy sector,” said Roger Robinson, the president and chief executive officer of Conflict Securities Advisory Group, a Washington-based risk management company that specializes in identifying and profiling public companies with business ties to states accused of sponsoring terrorism.
Mr. Freeman’s connection to CNOOC could oblige him to recuse himself from some matters regarding China as well as Myanmar. In October 2007, CNOOC’s chief financial officer publicly refused to divest from that country a month after army soldiers opened fire on a crowd protesting the ruling junta, suggesting instead that CNOOC would increase its investments.
The incident prompted the United States to toughen sanctions on the junta, according to statements at the time from the State Department.
Mr. Freeman’s ties with Middle East Policy Council (MEPC) also have come under scrutiny. According to the 2006 tax returns for the organization – considered a nonprofit by the Internal Revenue Service – 11 donors contributed a total of more than $2.7 million that year.
MEPC’s acting director, Jon Roth, said the organization would not disclose the names of the donors, but added, “If the government needs something, we will cooperate with them.”
In 2007, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al-Saud announced that he had provided a gift of $1 million to the MEPC for its endowment. Prince Alwaleed’s attempt to give New York money after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks was refused by New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.
Buck Revell, the FBI’s associate deputy director responsible for investigations and intelligence from 1980 to 1991, said the receipt of Saudi money alone is not a reason to disqualify Mr. Freeman.
“Saudi money is everywhere. It is in the George Bush library, it is in the Clinton library, it’s everywhere. So that in and of itself is not disqualifying,” Mr. Revell said. “But how that money was used – was it used for the correct purposes, was it diverted to other entities or other organizations – that would raise issues of security. If it is going to organizations that say Israel should be wiped from the face of the earth and other stuff, that would raise issues.”
Another issue of concern is the client base for Projects International. On its Web site, the company lists among its clients Gulf Catering Co., a subsidiary of Agility Defense & Government Services, which prepares the meals for the dining facilities that serve U.S. troops in Iraq.
In 2005, Gulf Catering Co. was accused of offering a $50,000 bribe to an Army chief warrant officer in Iraq to win a bid to provide the U.S. military in Iraq with napkins and cutlery, according to an investigation by the Army Criminal Investigation Command first reported by USA Today in 2007.
Voice of experience
Three former NIC chairmen and one former vice chairman told The Washington Times that Mr. Freeman’s business ties to China, Saudi Arabia and other nations should be vetted before Mr. Freeman takes his post.
Fritz W. Ermarth, who served as chairman of the NIC between 1988 and 1993, said, “Mr. Freeman’s political and business associations will be or should be vetted and then reviewed in a polygraph examination for potential hazards to security.”
He said the “political correctness” of Mr. Freeman’s past associations “will not be and should not be at issue from a security point of view. But they are legitimate issues for argument and discussion from a political point of view, where the question is not just the orientation of Mr. Freeman, but the orientation of the administration.”
Henry Rowen, who chaired the council from 1981 to 1983, said, “There are all kinds of perception issues here.”
He added, “He is on the board of CNOOC. I don’t think it should matter or that alone disqualifies him. Of course this is legitimate to look at, you have to look at the whole record. It has to be looked at, but I don’t see anything to disqualify him.”
Robert Hutchings, who headed the NIC from 2003 to 2005, said the same criteria that apply to other senior U.S. administration officials should apply to Mr. Freeman. “If he recuses himself [on issues where there might be a conflict of interest] or places his assets in a blind trust, so there is no question of him benefiting – so long as he can play by these rules, it should be a fine choice,” Mr. Hutchings said.
Currently diplomat-in-residence at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, Mr. Hutchings said Mr. Freeman’s business expertise could be an asset in his new post. As NIC chairman, Mr. Hutchings said, he hired two national intelligence officers, dealing with international real estate and software, who had business backgrounds.
Herb Meyer, a deputy chairman of the NIC during the Reagan administration, said business connections with China and Saudi Arabia were a concern, but he was more worried about Mr. Freeman’s views.
“What concerns me more is what he has said and written. What matters here is his judgment and that seems to be the point that everyone is skating away from,” Mr. Meyer said. “Can you imagine if I had stood up and explained away Tiananmen Square? He does not have the intellectual fire power to sort through the intelligence and reach a plausible conclusion.”
Mr. Meyer was referring to a 2006 e-mail attributed to Mr. Freeman saying China was justified in cracking down on students protesting at Tiananmen Square in 1989 and should have acted sooner to suppress the civil disobedience.
The Washington Times could not corroborate that the e-mail that was reportedly sent by Mr. Freeman to members of the China Security Listserv, a private group of policy analysts. But it tracks with other public statements from Mr. Freeman, such as his characterization in an April 25 speech to the National War College Alumni Association that described Tibetan protests last year as a “race riot.” Mr. Freeman did not respond to requests for comment.
Other China analysts praised Mr. Freeman, who is said to speak Mandarin Chinese better than almost anyone else in the Foreign Service and who interpreted for President Nixon on his groundbreaking trip to China in 1972.
David Lampton, director of the China Studies Program at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University, said, “We’re lucky to have a person of this caliber. He’s an excellent mind in general and has long experience in the area of the world I know best.”
The Washington advocacy director of Human Rights Watch said, however, that Mr. Freeman’s nomination sends the wrong message.
“A capacity to make moral distinctions may not be a prerequisite for being a good intelligence analyst,” Tom Malinowski said. “But for such a high-profile appointment, it would still be wise for President Obama to weigh the message sent by choosing someone who has so consistently defended and worked for the clenched fists the president so eloquently challenged in his inaugural address.”
To my special friend Gordon, 25 DVDs: Obama gives Brown a set of classic movies. Let’s hope he likes the Wizard of Oz
By Ian Drury
Last updated at 8:17 AM on 06th March 2009
As he headed back home from Washington, Gordon Brown must have rummaged through his party bag with disappointment.
Because all he got was a set of DVDs. Barack Obama, the leader of the world’s richest country, gave the Prime Minister a box set of 25 classic American films – a gift about as exciting as a pair of socks.
Mr Brown is not thought to be a film buff, and his reaction to the box set is unknown. But it didn’t really compare to the thoughtful presents he had brought along with him.
Marking the special relationship: The Browns put a lot of thought into their gifts for the Obamas – but the gesture did not seem to be reciprocated
The Prime Minister gave Mr Obama an ornamental pen holder made from the timbers of the Victorian anti-slave ship HMS Gannet.
The unique present delighted Mr Obama because oak from the Gannet’s sister ship, HMS Resolute, was carved to make a desk that has sat in the Oval Office in the White House since 1880.
Mr Brown also handed over a framed commission for HMS Resolute and a first edition of the seven-volume biography of Churchill by Sir Martin Gilbert.
In addition, Mr Brown and his wife showered gifts on the Obama children giving Sasha and Malia an outfit each from Topshop and six children’s books by British authors which are shortly to be published in America.
In return, the Obamas gave the Browns two models of the presidential helicopter, Marine One, to take home to sons Fraser and John.
Mrs Brown has been praised for her well-chosen gifts for the Obama children – but Mrs Obama’s gift to the Brown children appeared less thoughtful
The Prime Minister has not had the best of luck when receiving gifts from U.S. presidents.
He was given a fur-trimmed brown leather bomber jacket by George W. Bush during his first trip to America in the summer of 2007.
Commentators gleefully pointed out that the garment was hardly in keeping with Mr Brown’s usual sober attire of business suit and tie.
Downing Street yesterday refused to state which movies were in the box set.
But the Mail has learned it included classics such as Star Wars, The Godfather and Citizen Kane and was produced by the American Film Institute as a ‘special request’ for the White House last month.
Perhaps pertinently, given Britain is floundering in an economic slump, the DVD collection was thought to feature the movie of John Steinbeck’s Great Depression novel, ‘The Grapes Of Wrath’.
The gift also included the Oscar-winning boxing biopic ‘Raging Bull’ starring Robert Di Nero and Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller Psycho – maybe a comment on the PM’s notorious short fuse?
And he will hope that at a General Election the British public do not shun his imploration for another term in office by thinking at the ballot box of the famous line from another of the movies, Casblanca: ‘Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.’
But following Mr Brown’s his recent troubles – the UK entering recession, soaring job losses and home repossessions, Labour struggling in the polls and threats of leadership challenges – he may be pleased at being able to settle down for a quiet night in front of the ultimate feel-good movie: It’s A Wonderful Life.