Jonah, I agree with you. What I’m actually reminded of when considering the contrarian defense is the parallel in academe, where professors — no matter how demonstratably ridiculous (or, in the case of Ward Churchill, false) their arguments are — seek to deflect any substantive criticism with cries of academic freedom. Academic freedom is a noble principle, but it was not meant to be a substitute for professional incompetence, shoddy scholarship, or poor judgment.
Freeman is not the right man for the job. What is scary to consider now is why DNI Blair believed him to be. Blair has said he knew Freeman as a friend. If he saw him as a good analyst, perhaps he can explain why. Meanwhile, the silence on this issue — loyalty over competence — was a line which many critics of Bush used to describe some of his picks. That they remain silent on Freeman is a sorry testament to how they place politics above principle.
As for Freeman’s competence as an analyst, whether a contrarian or not, it is hard to respect the man’s principle or competence as anything more than a fundraiser or lobbyist after reading this.