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Chalabi Update Update

Kevin’s drafted an excellent run down of Chalabi’s career, 1969-present. The whole thing is well worth reading, but here’s the exciting conclusion:

Bottom line: practically every group that has ever worked with Chalabi has eventually felt betrayed by him. This includes, at a minimum: (1) the Jordanian government, (2) the CIA, (3) the State Department, (4) Paul Bremer and the CPA, (5) the United Nations, (6) the NSC, and (7) the DIA. Oh — and quite possibly, (8) George W. Bush.

That sounds about right.


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Chalabi Update

It’s all CIA Director George Tenet’s fault:

(CNN) — Ahmed Chalabi, the former Iraqi exile who worked closely with the White House before the Iraq war, blamed CIA Director George Tenet Sunday for recent allegations that have apparently caused his standing with the Bush administration to plummet.

… “We never provided any classified information from the U.S. to Iran — neither I nor anyone in the INC [Iraqi National Congress],” he said.

“That is a charge being put out by George Tenet. I say let him bring all his charges, all his documents. We also will bring all our charges and all our documents to the U.S. Congress, and let Congress have hearings and resolve this issue,” Chalabi said.

… Chalabi said tension with Tenet goes back to 1994, when Tenet argued that “the way to remove [former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein] was through a coup. We said no; a war of national liberation, assisted by the United States, is the way to move forward.

“And he [Tenet] tried many coups, and we exposed the fact that he was wrong publicly, after he failed, and we sometimes warned the CIA in private about the possibility of failure. … The feud with Aras [Habib] goes back a long way.”

Now, I’m not Tenet’s biggest fan, and I certainly believe that he and Chalabi don’t get along well. But allow me to join with my right wing brethren, at least the ones who aren’t diehard neocons, and defend Tenet: I don’t believe he faked this, and I really don’t believe anything Chalabi says. More likely, Tenet’s case against Chalabi (insofar as it is “Tenet’s” rather than a more broad case — an issue under some debate(*)) is a true “Slam-Dunk.”


(*) The debate is over whether (1) Genuinely new information surfaced — likely from Jordan’s King Abdullah — and so the US acted against Chalabi, or (2) The information always existed and now those who believe it (the CIA) have more power compared to those who don’t (the Neocons in general and the Defence Intelligence Agency in particular.) Supporting (1) are the tips possibly received from Abdullah. Supporting (2) is this Newsweek story alleging that the Pentagon was out of the loop on the Chalibi raid:

When Iraqi police, guarded by American GIs, burst into the home and offices of Ahmad Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress, looking for evidence of kidnapping, embezzlement, torture and theft, the men who run the Pentagon were left asking some uncomfortable questions. “Who signed off on this raid?” wondered one very high-ranking official. “What were U.S. soldiers doing there?” asked another, according to a source who was present in the room.

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Has Bush Been Working for Iran?

The LA Times offers this explanation for the US’s raid of Chalabi’s headquarters the other day:

WASHINGTON — Ahmad Chalabi, the onetime White House favorite who has been implicated in an alleged Iranian spy operation, sent Iraqi defectors to at least eight Western spy services before the war in an apparent effort to dupe them about Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s illicit weapons programs, current and former U.S. intelligence officials said.

U.S. investigators are seeking to determine whether the effort — which one U.S. official likened to an attempt to “game the system” — was secretly supported by Iran’s intelligence service to help persuade the Bush administration to oust the regime in Baghdad, Tehran’s longtime enemy.

If true (Iran is denying the allegations), this would be a tad embarrassing for the Bush administration. No matter how hard they try, I think they’ll find it hard to put a good spin on being outsmarted and outmanipulated by the Iranians.


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Another on the DisgruntledTM List?

Now it’s former commander-in-chief of the U.S. Central Command from 1997 to 2000, Anthony Zinni, who may have to join the ranks of the DisgruntledTM. Okay, maybe he doesn’t really qualify, since he never formally worked for George Bush, but he still has a credible perspective on things and seems to be pretty upset with the Bush administration.


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Bush and the Financial Press

An interesting tidbit: Bush won’t take questions from his fellow Republicans on Capitol Hill, but he did meet yesterday with selected members of the financial press “for a half-hour chat.” One possible interpretation: he’s going to be trying to change his campaign from running on Iraq and terrorism to running on the economy. Sure, Bush’s economic performance has been lousy, but given the steady stream of news out of Iraq I think that such a change in strategy may well be wise on his part.


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The Budget Battle

The Bush budget, which would make some of the expiring 2001 and 2003 tax cuts that are set to expire next year, has been put on hold for a while because of the stubbornness of a few moderate Senate Republicans – Collins, Snowe, Chafee, and McCain. Whether the rest of the Bush lapdogs Republicans in Congress will be willing to compromise with those four fiscal conservatives (because compromising with Democrats would be simply beyond the pale) remains to be seen. But in the mean time, good for them for insisting that the Congress regain some semblance of fiscal responsibility.


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More Less Chalabi

Not only is Chalabi ambiguous at best about the intelligence he may or may not have provided to the US, now the US is ambiguous about the intelligence it did not get from Chalabi.

Or, as Josh Marshall writes,

Ask not for whom the memory-hole sucks, Ahmed; it sucketh for you …


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No Questions

Apparenlty, no matter how friendly the audience, Bush doesn’t feel like answering any questions:

In a 45-minute pep rally in a basement conference room under the West Front of the Capitol, Mr. Bush told more than 200 House and Senate Republicans that the United States was firmly committed to transferring power to the Iraqis on June 30 and insisted that the temporary government would not be under American control. Specifically, Mr. Bush told the group, according to House and Senate members in the meeting, that the new American ambassador to Iraq, John D. Negroponte, would not be a de-facto successor to L. Paul Bremer III, the top American civilian administrator in Iraq who is to step down from his duties on July 1.

Mr. Bush took no questions from the [all Republican] lawmakers

In the same story, this stands out as stunningly true:

Mr. Santorum said that Mr. Bush told the group that Mr. Negroponte would not be opening schools and hospitals.

Yes, indeed. I am quite sure that John Negroponte (see also, this) will most certainly not be opening any schools or hospitals.(*) I’m just surprised that Santorum and Bush would admit it so readily.


(*) No, death-squad training doesn’t count as “schooling.”

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