I doubt many readers know Charles (Chas) Freeman who was the subject of the Bryan County News’ "Guest Views" column of Saturday, March 7, 2009. Having been a U.S. Treasury Attaché during his tenure as Ambassador in the Middle East, I write this letter in his defense.
The Bryan County News reprinted an editorial from the Augusta Chronicle that was very critical of President Obama’s administration, and especially critical of Chas Freeman’s selection as Chairman of the National Intelligence Council (NIC). The editorial, entitled Jaw Dropping Choice?, uses all the derogatory tools in one’s arsenal for a full-court attack on Freeman in an effort to question his appointment. This is an approach normally used by opponents to destroy any appointee with whom they disagree.
I can provide a personal, first hand perspective on Chas Freeman. Having worked directly with him in the Middle East, serving on the Country Team at the U.S. Embassy (before, during, and after his tenure), I can strongly attest to his professionalism, intelligence, fairness, capability, and credibility, which will serve us well at the NIC. In fact, we are most fortunate to have someone with his diverse background, knowledge, and unbiased expertise in foreign affairs in this critical position.Freeman has vast Middle Eastern, African, East Asian, and European diplomatic experience. As Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Freeman effectively led U.S. diplomatic efforts during the first Gulf War. He served as Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires in the American embassies in both Bangkok (1984-1986) and Beijing (1981-1984). He was Director of Chinese Affairs at the U.S. Department of State from 1979-1981. He was the principal American interpreter during President Nixon’s path-breaking visit to China in 1972. He also was an Assistant Secretary of Defense, is fluent in Chinese and Arabic, and, in addition to his many accomplishments, is a prince of a person. His awards and international recognition, too numerous to mention, speak volumes.
I am seldom moved to respond to opinions or editorials, but having a personal knowledge of and a former working relationship with Freeman, I am appalled by the Augusta Chronicle editor’s attempt to assassinate the character of an extremely capable, experienced, and proven diplomat, and that it was reprinted (with no fresh insight) by the Bryan County News.
The American public will be well served to have the extraordinary service of Chas Freeman. I can only hope that your readers are objective and discerning when presented such a column in the Bryan County News.
Larry Bacon, Sr.
U.S. Treasury Department (International Affairs), retired (‘98)
Editor's note: As do many other newspapers, the Bryan County News frequently prints guest editorials on the Opinion page. We do so to provide a look at what other state and national papers are saying about issues. We do not necessarily endorse those views nor attempt to edit them.