During Nixon's historic trip to China in 1972, his interpreter and I, free for a few hours, conscripted a driver to take us on a tour of Beijing. Somewhere in my files are photos from that day we toured the grim city of Chairman Mao in the time of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.
The interpreter: Charles Freeman -- the same Charles Freeman Adm. Dennis Blair chose to chair the National Intelligence Council that prepares National Intelligence Estimates on critical national security issues such as Iran's nuclear program.
Educated at Yale and Harvard Law, Freeman has served his country in Delhi, Taipei, Bangkok and Beijing. He was Ronald Reagan's deputy assistant secretary of state for Africa and Bill Clinton's assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs. George Bush I named him ambassador to Saudi Arabia. Freeman was our man in Riyadh when Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf and 500,000 U.S. troops arrived to evict the army of Saddam Hussein from Kuwait.
In 1997, Freeman succeeded George McGovern as president of the Middle East Policy Council -- and he began to speak out.
He opposed the bombing of Serbia and said aloud what few privately deny: Reflexive support for Israel's repression of the Palestinian people is high among the reasons America is no longer seen as a beacon of liberation in the Arab and Muslim world.
Freeman echoed the Obama of yesterday, who bravely blurted, "Nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people."
At MEPC, however, Freeman committed a great crime. He published "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, which went onto the New York Times best-seller list -- and put Freeman on AIPAC's enemies list.
Hence, when his name surfaced as Blair's choice to chair the NIC, the Israel Firsters went berserk, with Steven Rosen declaring him to be a "textbook case of the old-line Arabism" that infected the Department of State when Gen. George Marshall was secretary.
And who is Rosen?
A former fixture at AIPAC, Rosen faces imminent federal criminal prosecution under the Espionage Act for transferring top-secret Pentagon documents to the Israeli Embassy. Rosen's accomplice, Larry Franklin, is serving a 12-year sentence.
Picking up the Rosen dog whistle, the neocommentariat came howling. To Gabriel Schoenfeld, late of Commentary, Freeman is a "China coddling Israel basher." Tom Piatak of Chronicles found no fewer than five blogs from National Review Online, in two hours, savaging Freemen, two by Jonah Goldberg and two by Michael Rubin.