Friday, May 16, 2008

This Time We Mean It. Really.

As a parent counts to three using a series of inane fractions, so has the United States government dealt with the Iraqi exile and charlatan, Ahmed Chalabi. McClatchy reports that the US has again cut ties with one of the men most responsible for war in Iraq and the concomitant faulty intelligence.

The U.S. the fourth time that the U.S. has ended an alliance with Chalabi, whom officials in the Pentagon and Vice President Dick Cheney's office once touted as a successor to Saddam Hussein. The State Department and U.S. intelligence agencies, however, have long regarded Chalabi as untrustworthy and a "charlatan."

Ahmed Chalabi began working with the US in the late 80s in fits and starts, but rose to prominence following the first Gulf War. At that time, he was being paid by the CIA, but that agency cut him off in 1995 after it became clear to them that he was selling fraudulent goods. Despite being known by US Intelligence as a source of false information, Chalabi used his friends in Congress to convince the State Department to pick up his tab, and he continued to fight to depose Saddam Hussein.

Perhaps no single person is more responsible for building the case for invasion than Chalabi. And certainly no one intentionally provided more false information to the government and journalists, most famously Judith Miller. This false information ranged from WMD caches to phantom ties to al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. Chalabi wanted Hussein gone, and wasn't the slightest bit concerned with the means, so long as he got the end he wanted.

Aram Roston, author of "The Man Who Pushed America to War," spoke to Amy Goodman in March and detailed how Chalabi got his false information into America's stream of consciousness:

No, exactly. It was—it’s all a slew of journals and a slew of television programs, but each one typically would get a piece of the pie that he was producing, a piece of the product of what ended up being phony propaganda that the Iraqi National Congress was coming up with. And they had a very elaborate system set in place to get these stories in the press and into the intelligence stream.

They weren’t very successful getting these stories into the intelligence stream. And what I found was they were most successful after the attacks of 9/11. People were very—they wanted stories about terror and about Saddam Hussein, about weapons of mass destruction. So Chalabi’s group became very successful at planting these stories. They weren’t that successful, it seems, in getting it into the CIA, because the CIA at that point didn’t trust a word that Chalabi’s group said. But they were much more successful in impacting public opinion. And that had an immense impact, obviously, on America.

Essentially, Chalabi was very good at running a propaganda campaign utilizing a cabal of journalist dupes and a credulous American public. The Bush administration, for its part, was all too happy to stoke the fire. But that the CIA didn't want any part of the intelligence speaks volumes about the run-up to the war. When the central agency for gathering foreign intelligence knows it's being sold rotten fruit, the policy makers and opinion shapers should have looked twice before biting down.

From a March, 2004, McClatchy article:

Feeding the information to the news media, as well as to selected administration officials and members of Congress, helped foster an impression that there were multiple sources of intelligence on Iraq's illicit weapons programs and links to bin Laden.

In fact, many of the allegations came from the same half-dozen defectors, weren't confirmed by other intelligence and were hotly disputed by intelligence professionals at the CIA, the Defense Department and the State Department.

Nevertheless, U.S. officials and others who supported a pre-emptive invasion quoted the allegations in statements and interviews without running afoul of restrictions on classified information or doubts about the defectors' reliability.

Aside from the now-obviously lack of truth to his intelligence, Chalabi has a long history of fraud and embezzlement.

Chalabi, who lives in London, fled Jordan in 1989 after his Petra Bank collapsed and was convicted in absentia three years later for embezzlement. [...]

Earlier this year, the State Department threatened to cut off the INC's funding for information programs and other nonmilitary activities after an audit turned up expenditures that were deemed questionable or were unaccounted for.

The inspector general's audit of $4.3 million in grants mostly criticized the group's accounting and payroll procedures. But it also found questionable expenses, including $2,070 for a gym membership, $5,541 for legal fees related to a rental dispute and other money used for first-class plane tickets.

The audit also suggests the INC may have used taxpayers' money to lobby in Washington, which is illegal.

The funding continued, however, illustrating a recurring theme. Chalibi, having been convicted of embezzlement and cut-off by the CIA for providing faulty intelligence, continued to misuse tax dollars with relative impunity. He would receive several threats, always to have his funding restored in the end. He would be similarly 'cut-off' in 2004, this week [which, of course, is unresolved,] and intermittently in between.

So, given that it is now indisputable that Chalabi was selling faulty goods, the only question remaining is whether the administration was simply mislead in good faith, or bought into intelligence they should have knownn was bad from the start. The former is a favorite line of defense for supporters of the invasion, but the theory doesn't hold water.

As far back as the mid-90s, the CIA knew Chalabi's story. When the Central Intelligence Agency doesn't trust the intelligence, you might want to get a second opinion before spouting it out in knee-jerk fashion.

Also, in October 2002, it was clear to many that there was plenty of dispute over the veracity of Chalabi's claims.

The Pentagon and the CIA are waging a bitter feud over secret intelligence that is being used to shape U.S. policy toward Iraq, according to current and former U.S. officials.

The dispute has been fueled by the creation within the Pentagon of a special unit that provides senior policymakers with alternate assessments of Iraq intelligence.


A major source of contention is the Pentagon's heavy reliance on data supplied by the Iraqi National Congress. The INC, the largest group within the divided Iraqi opposition, has a mixed reputation in Washington and a huge stake in whether President Bush makes good on his threat to oust Iraqi dictator Saddam by force. Its leader, Ahmed Chalabi, sees himself as a potential successor.


It is not clear whether the Pentagon solicits the views of the U.S. intelligence community on the material it collects directly from the Iraqi opposition.

A senior U.S. military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, expressed grave fears that civilian officials in the Pentagon may be blindly accepting assertions by Chalabi and his aides that a U.S. invasion would trigger mass defections of Iraqi troops and a quick collapse of Iraqi resistance.

"Our guys working this area for a living all believe Chalabi and all those guys in their Bond Street suits are charlatans. To take them for a source of anything except a fantasy trip would be a real stretch," one official said.

The special unit within the Pentagon was Doug Feith's Office of Special Plans, now known as a farcical cherry-picking operation based, not on gathering intelligence, but on manufacturing a case for war.

To claim that there was insufficient evidence as to the shaky foundation upon which the case for war was built prior to invasion is to ignore the facts. Chalabi was long known as a snake-oil salesman, and it was his un-verified intelligence that provided the crux of the case. Lifelong intelligence officers were pleading with the administration to take his information lightly, but the suits who wanted war were hearing none of it.

All of this information was available before the war. Feith and his cohorts can revise history all they want, but the evidence is there.

If Chalabi had two strikes for misusing funds and selling false information, then strike three comes from his dealings with Iran.


Well, the Iranian group that is charged by Iran with exporting...the Islamic revolution is called the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards. And...the man who runs their operations in Iraq now, and did before the war, is a general named Ahmed Foruzandeh. And Ahmed Foruzandeh is considered a very talented intelligence officer, and he’s very good at covert operations for the Iranians, and he’s very committed, he’s very sophisticated, and he’s no joke. And it’s certainly true that Chalabi had met with him before the war, before the US invasion.

What concerned American intelligence officers was when they found out—they believed he was meeting—he had met with him after the invasion, while the DIA was still funding the Iraqi National Congress’s intelligence operations in Iraq. It would have been in the spring of 2004. And they had serious concerns about that.

Now, more recently, Ahmed Foruzandeh, this man I mention in the book, he’s been named by the US government itself publicly as supporting terror, supporting insurgency. He’s been designated by the Treasury Department under an executive order as a real threat to efforts in Iraq.

Passing US intelligence to Iran:

The U.S. government has launched an investigation to determine how Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmad Chalabi obtained highly classified American intelligence that was then passed to Iran, Bush administration officials said Friday.

A senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the matter's sensitivity, said the compromised intelligence was "highly classified and damaging."

Chalabi's most recent ouster comes as "U.S. military and intelligence officials said Chalabi is close to Brig. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, the commander of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' elite Quds Force." Suleimani, you may recall, brokered the cease-fire in Basra in March, and is also a proud member of the US terrorist watch list.

It is hard to imagine any single person who has done more harm to the United States as an outsider. Chalabi has pilfered money from tax payers to provide incredible, false intelligence claims that led the nation into a drawn-out, destructive occupation. Concurrently, he is negotiating and dealing intelligence secrets to Iran, our next target and current replacement for the USSR. Not only should Chalabi not be receiving US funds, he should be in a prison somewhere. Maybe he can be extradited to Jordan for his prior conviction, I hear they treat their prisoners real nice.

Sphere: Related Content

No comments: