May 02, 2004

Chalabi: Modern Day Iago

This guy is truly aiming for Shakespearian heights of villany (Newsweek):

Ahmad Chalabi, the longtime Pentagon favorite to become leader of a free Iraq, has never made a secret of his close ties to Iran. Before the U.S. invasion of Baghdad, Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress maintained a $36,000-a-month branch office in Tehran—funded by U.S. taxpayers. INC representatives, including Chalabi himself, paid regular visits to the Iranian capital. Since the war, Chalabi’s contacts with Iran may have intensified: a Chalabi aide says that since December, he has met with most of Iran’s top leaders, including supreme religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his top national-security aide, Hassan Rowhani. “Iran is Iraq’s neighbor, and it is in Iraq’s interest to have a good relationship with Iran,” Chalabi’s aide says.

But U.S. intelligence agencies have recently raised concerns that Chalabi has become too close to Iran’s theocratic rulers. NEWSWEEK has learned that top Bush administration officials have been briefed on intelligence indicating that Chalabi and some of his top aides have supplied Iran with “sensitive” information on the American occupation in Iraq. U.S. officials say that electronic intercepts of discussions between Iranian leaders indicate that Chalabi and his entourage told Iranian contacts about American political plans in Iraq. There are also indications that Chalabi has provided details of U.S. security operations. According to one U.S. government source, some of the information Chalabi turned over to Iran could “get people killed.” (A Chalabi aide calls the allegations “absolutely false.”)

Why would Chalabi risk his cozy ties to Washington by cuddling up to Iran’s fundamentalist rulers? Administration officials say Chalabi may be working both sides in an effort to solidify his own power and block the advancement of rival Iraqis.

Jeez, if only we had known earlier that Chalabi was a crook:

Within a few months, however, DIA had further checked out the “major” and concluded that his stories and credentials were so dubious that the agency felt obliged to issue a governmentwide notice branding the defector as a “fabricator” whose information should be avoided. The “fabricator notice,” issued in May 2002, reported that the defector had apparently been “coached by the Iraqi National Congress” on what to tell U.S. interrogators, according to a source who read the document, which remains classified.  [emphasis mine]

Update:  Josh Marshall is also on top of it (we beat him by 4 minutes), and adds some background.


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