Campaign 2010

Apr 23, 2004

State’s Revenge on Chalabi

We noted about a month ago that the GAO had agreed to investigate Ahmed Chalabi at the requests of Sens. Kerry and Durbin.  As Newsweek put it:

The issue under scrutiny is not whether Chalabi prodded America into a war on false pretenses; it is whether he used U.S. taxpayer dollars and broke U.S. laws or regulations to do so. Did Chalabi and the INC violate the terms of their funding by using U.S. money to sell the public on its anti-Saddam campaign and to lobby Congress?

Today, Knight-Ridder follows up:

An Iraqi exile group may have violated restrictions against using taxpayer funds to lobby by campaigning for U.S. action to oust Saddam Hussein, according to documents and U.S. officials.

[snip]

Officials at the State Department, which managed the group’s U.S. government grant, said they think it did break the rules, despite what a senior official said were repeated warnings to the group to avoid lobbying “or even the appearance of same.”

Not too long ago, the Telegraph (UK) did a story based on an interview with David Kay, which summarized his explanation of the intelligence failure thusly:

More damaging was the dependence on defectors. Different agencies all but competed with each over their intelligence without realising that much of it came from the same source, Ahmad Chalabi, the leader of the Iraqi National Congress, a former exile group that is now competing for power in Baghdad.

And here’s another Knight Ridder story which details the relationship between State and Chalabi:

Much of the defectors’ testimonies were discounted in the run-up to the war by analysts at the CIA and State Department, which soured on the INC and its leader, Ahmad Chalabi, during the 1990s.

Nonetheless, some of the information found its way into the most critical prewar intelligence assessment on Iraq’s illicit weapons program, known as a National Intelligence Estimate; media reports; statements by top U.S. officials and, in one instance, Secretary of State Colin Powell’s watershed presentation to the U.N. Security Council in February 2003.

Recent conventional wisdom has held that Chalabi is finally being pushed out of the picture, but that was before his nephew was put in charge of Saddam’s trial.

Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me a hundred times in a row with taxpayer money, shame on Bush.


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