Saturday :: May 22, 2004

Is The Chalabi Downfall The Revenge Of The Spooks?


by Steve

There’s much to be confused about surrounding the sudden turn of events against Cheney/Rummy/Perle confidant Ahmed Chalabi. The media is awash the last couple of days with stories that indicate Chalabi 1) was plotting to undermine the transitional government because he was being pushed aside by the US; 2) was guilty of corruption, kidnappings, and other shenanigans with Iraqi and US funds; 3) was being dumped because he wanted the US out after June 30 and sought Iraqi control of its oil and contracts; and 4) was an intelligence conduit for Iranian intelligence.

Surely the last charge has the possibility of being the most damaging of all. If it turns out that PNAC’s and Cheney/Rummy/Perle’s best bud was in fact passing valuable intelligence to the Iranians, and we know now that the Iranians are involved in acts against our troops, then the blame for this stupidity and being so exploited by a foreign intelligence service goes straight to the top of the White House. Aside from the usual outrage that I and others have at this latest blunder from the world’s best foreign policy team, I have two additional questions/observations.

First, it now turns out that Chalabi was tipped off to the raid. He had the chance to remove from his offices any damaging intelligence information before our military finally got there this week.

One of Chalabi's advisers said Friday that INC officials received advance notice of U.S. plans to search the INC intelligence building and removed their computers weeks ago. The adviser, Francis Brooke, said "nothing of any intelligence value" was recovered in the raids.

Who tipped him off that our troops were coming? One could argue that such a revelation indicates that this is all a sham by Cheney/Rummy/Perle to make Chalabi look independent of the US to make him more popular to Iraqis. But would we go this far to do that, using our troops and these allegations to make him and the INC out to be an outright security threat to the Unites States? I think not. Allegations that he and the INC were sending US intelligence into the hands of the Iranians only confirms the fact that the White House and its PNAC cabal were duped by a foreign intelligence service into eliminating an enemy, a blunder of the highest order in this country’s history.

Second however, take a look at who was always against Chalabi and may have been forced to eat his intelligence only to be made to look like fools for doing so these past months. Both the State Department and the CIA have warned against allowing Chalabi’s influence on our foreign policy, only to see pressure to accept what he and his “curveball” informers said about Saddam’s WMD capabilities as gospel. Both the State Department and the CIA to a lesser degree have admitted recently they were duped by Chalabi and the INC and been embarrassed by it. Now curiously we suddenly target Chalabi and the specter is raised that he was passing intelligence secrets to the Iranians. Who is raising this possibility? The intelligence community itself.

The big question for me is this: who was passing the secret intelligence to Chalabi to begin with? Given their concerns about his reliability, it wasn’t the CIA or State, both of whom have had limited contact with him since the occupation because frankly, the Pentagon and the White House through Condi Rice’s office have been running post-war Iraq. And as you can see from the comments below in the Knight-Ridder story, it seems to be the CIA who is exposing Chalabi as an Iranian conduit. In essence, what we have here is “the revenge of the spooks” against the White House and PNAC. Worse yet, he is tipped off that we are coming so that he has time to move the goods elsewhere.

The intelligence official said Habib also was the INC official, who handled most of the Iraqi defectors, including one code-named "Curveball," who provided much of the fabricated, exaggerated and unconfirmed information about Iraqi weapons programs and links to terrorism that Bush used in making his case for invading Iraq.

"The bottom line here is that much of the information the administration had about Iraq may have come from an Iranian agent," said the intelligence official. "If that's true, this is a huge scandal."

A senior Chalabi aide denied the allegations and accused the CIA of leading a smear campaign against Chalabi. "No U.S. official has mentioned this to us in any capacity. It's absolutely false," said the official, who asked that his name not be used.

A third senior administration official said the contacts between an INC official or officials and Iranian security services were revealed via electronic intercepts.

So who has been giving Chalabi the intelligence that presumably our CIA now confirms has ended up in the hands of the Iranians? And who knew a raid against Chalabi’s headquarters was afoot and wanted to warn him to get rid of the files that could identify the source of the intelligence leaks to him? Well, I can think of the Pentagon and the White House for starters.

Steve :: 2:34 PM :: Comments (8) :: Digg It!