Charles Freeman, former ambassador to Saudi Arabia and president of the Middle East Policy council was a few weeks ago picked by a top Obama advisor to chair the National Intelligence Council. He was not picked directly by President Obama, but certainly with his approval.
Now, a little background on Mr. Freeman. He has been a voice questioning America's unquestioning support of Israel, urging policy-makers to look at all sides of the situation. He has been critical of the "Israel lobby" in Washington--those who take it upon themselves to ensure that Israel's interests become equated with America's interests in the minds of those who make policy. Read more here.
Basically what happened is that enough commentators and even elected representatives (like Senator Schumer of New York) complained so that Freeman was pressured into removing himself from consideration. Apparently Freeman was disqualified for his "extremist views"--that he is willing to criticize our policy of support for Israel is considered extremist. One commentator says about the efforts to marginalize Freeman:
The real rub, the basis of the whole controversy, however, is that [Freeman] has been far more critical of Israeli policy than is generally allowed within acceptable debate in Washington. . .
The whole effort strikes me as little more than a thuggish effort to keep the already too-constricted terms of debate over the Middle East and Israel/Palestine locked down and largely one-sided. . . . But the gist is that campaigns like this are ugly and should be resisted. Not just on general principles, but because the country needs more diversity of viewpoints on this issue right now.
The idea that Obama should not have advisers who challenge some of the core assumptions of the Bush years, especially with respect to Israel-Palestine, seems nuts to me. And the impulse to blackball and smear someone as a bigot is reprehensible.