Sources tell The Cable that Chas W. Freeman, Jr., the former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, will become chairman of the National Intelligence Council, the intelligence community's primary big-think shop and the lead body in producing national intelligence estimates.
Freeman (shown above shaking hands with Chinese President Hu Jintao) has told associates that in the job, he will occasionally accompany Director of National Intelligence Adm. Dennis Blair to give the president his daily intelligence briefing. His predecessor, Thomas Fingar, wore a second hat as deputy director of national intelligence for analysis (a job held since December by Peter Lavoy); sources thought it unclear whether Freeman would have that title as well.
Associates say that at a recent board meeting of the Middle East Policy Council, of which he has been president, Freeman said that he was resigning to take a job in the administration. He said his post was not in the State Department and did not require confirmation, but did not specify what the job was.
Former NIC official Paul Pillar said the council has occasionally had chairmen who came from outside of the intelligence community -- mostly from academia, such as Harvard Kennedy School dean emeritus Joseph S. Nye.
Freeman, who was Richard Nixon's principal translator in Beijing in 1972, has been traveling in China and could not be reached. A spokesman for ODNI said the office would not comment on possible appointments.
Photo: JONATHAN ERNST/AFP/Getty Images
John Hudson reports on national security and foreign policy from the Pentagon to Foggy Bottom, the White House to Embassy Row, for The Cable.