Sunday, November 06, 2005

Punk'd (Ahmed Chalabi Edition)

Ahmed Chalabi, ah, Ahmed Chalabi. The quintessential trickster in the flesh, though Legba has nothing on this creature. But you don't remember this master of scurrility, Ahmed Chalabi, you say? Let me refresh your memory.


  • who lied and misinformed about the WMDs to government officials (the Neocons) and the American media (Judy Miller, etc.) to get the US to overthrow Saddam, perhaps at Iran's instigation;
  • who conned W & Co. into giving him more than $33 million of our tax dollars to plan a post-war government in Iraq, money that disappeared and has never been accounted for;
  • who pushed for the policy of de-Baathification that has so inflamed the Sunnis;
  • who immediately seized files related to Saddam Hussein and who has tried to meddle in the former Iraqi dictator's trial;
  • who controlled the Oil-for-Food scandal investigation in Iraq during the period of the Interim Governing Council a year ago;
  • who was initially charged with counterfeiting by the interim Iraqi government yet somehow got all the charges dropped;
  • who remains convicted in absentia in 1992 for bank fraud and embezzling millions of dollars in Jordan;
  • Chalabiwho for his chicanery got to sit behind Laura Bush at W's 2004 State of the Union Address (cf. photo at right);
  • who turns out to have passed on vital, classified US information to Iran;
  • who still ended up Deputy Premier of the current Iraqi state and who was for a time the Acting Oil Minister;
  • who was supposedly to be under investigation 10 months ago by the US government for espionage on behalf of Iran

will soon be back in the US corridors of power (Washington Post: "Chalabi ready for U.S. visit, a return to the limelight"). Will he be arrested upon setting foot on US soil, or does he get diplomatic immunity now that's basically one of the top officials in the Iraq government? I think we know the answer. He'll be meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and others in the US government, whom he punk'd better than anything Ashton Kutcher has ever come up with. For the punk'd crowd, it's all "routine," according to the Washington Post, which conveniently refreshes our memory about this charlatan:

With his cherubic face and Cheshire cat grin, Chalabi became the most famous and influential figure in a group of Iraqi exiles during Saddam Hussein's rule and spent a decade working to topple the dictator through the Iraqi National Congress, a U.S.-funded opposition group he helped found. The MIT-trained former banker and businessman is described by admirers and critics alike as perhaps his country's most gifted political operator. But he is also often derided as a man too often tied to scandal.

After the 2003 invasion, much of the information the Iraqi National Congress provided to the U.S. government about Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction proved inaccurate, administration officials said. Last summer, U.S. forces raided Chalabi's Baghdad office after he was accused of sending secrets to Iran, whose government he retains close ties with. Chalabi has denied those allegations and has not been formally charged. On Saturday, Chalabi traveled to Tehran, where he met with top Iranian officials to discuss bilateral relations, according to Iran's official news agency.

The fallout from last year's raid led him to lower his public profile for much of the past year, minimizing media coverage and focusing on an essential, if uncelebrated, job of coordinating the Iraqi government's energy policy and protecting its oil infrastructure.

"Top Iranian officials." How vague, Washington Post, how typical. According to the Islamic News Agency, the crafty Chalabi met with the extremist, ultraconservative president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who recently called for Israel to be "wiped off the map" to the full-throated cheers of Iranian "revolutionary" youth, and led a march to underline his genocidal threat. Ahmadinejad, unsurprisingly, has refused to retract his statements despite criticism from the UN and Iranian allies, and has the support of the ultraradical Islamic clerics, including Ayatollah Khamenei, who basically run the state.

Below, a photo of the frightfully jolly pair. And what did Mr. Chalabi and Mr. Ahmadinejad chat about?

Chalabi and AhmadinejadAhmadinejad said that Iraq needs to strive for expansion of ties with its neighbors as a way to thwart the plots for stoking religious and sectarian rows.

Elsewhere in his statements, he alluded to the need for expansion of bilateral economic and trade relations.

Iran is prepared to provide its experiences in various economic spheres to Iraq and meet Iraq's transit needs from its southern and northern ports, he said.

Tehran also expects that the project of laying of oil pipeline between Abadan and Basra, linking the electricity grid of the two countries and building a railroad between the two nations are carried out as soon as possible, Ahmadinejad underlined.

Chalabi thanked Iran for support rendered in establishing stability and security in Iraq.

He also called for closer ties in all areas notably economic and trade including what Iran's president highlighted as development and infrastructure projects as priorities.

Okay, I get it now. Chalabi lied to W & Co. to get them to launch a war to overthrow Saddam so that he, Chalabi, could go home and take his place, control the oil and revenues, and insure Iran's major threat was gone. Only the people of Iraq weren't having him in charge, at least initially. Still, with Saddam gone at least and the US bogged down in Iraq, Chalabi could breathe a lot easier (and maybe allegedly print up his own stock of Iraq's currency, while squirreling away all those millions the US gave him).

As we noted, Chalabi was also working with the Iranians, since he realized that as a Shiite, once Saddam was gone, the Shiites, who are numerically the largest group in Iraq, would gain control under any vague version of a "democracy," and Iran, as the largest Shiite Islamic country on earth, has long had strong ties to said Iraqi Shiites. To curry favor, Chalabi allegedly passed on US secrets, including the fact that US had broken Iran's secret code, so no more secret listening in on those Iranians, who have designs on joining the nuclear club, which would be a real problem, especially for Israel! And who gave Chalabi this very confidential information? I guess investigating that serious matter is not part of Patrick Fitzgerald's purview, and chile, the Republicans just don't want to go there!

Anyways, Chalabi maneuvered his way into power, even though he has no real constituency except his family and what his cash buys him (a considerable portion of which at one point belonged to US taxpayers, the stockholders of that Jordanian bank, etc.). He got ahold of the Oil Ministry, and Chalabi kin are now in the judiciary--hey, it always helps to have friends and relatives in high legal positions. As Deputy Premier, which means he's second in rank, at least until the elections in December, he gets to bop around the world and chat up old friends, including folks he horribly betrayed, like the incompetents in the W administration, and he also gets to have a face-to-face with extraordinarily dangerous people like Ahmadinejad. Ahmed Chalabi, "you're doing a heck of a job!"

As Chalabi bops around the globe, the US has spent over $200 billion dollars; has squandered the good will of much of the Muslim world and of others across the globe; has lost over 2,050 soldiers, with more than 15,000 wounded or psychological damaged. At the same time, well over 15,000 Iraqis have lost their lives, with many more being wounded, and Iraq continues to lack basic services and be wracked by political, economic and social turmoil. Parts of it have even become a training ground for Al Qaeda and other Islamic terrorists! In addition, we learn that Iran plans to hold considerable sway ("expansion of ties" and "bilaterial...relations" my ass) over the wealthy Shiite sovereign state that will control most of Iraq's oil wealth and political power. Didn't they already sign a military pact? Iran is considerably stronger since its main military threat in the region, Saddam Hussein, is gone.

Is this what our troops are fighting for??? Are most Americans even aware of what's going on between Iran and Iraq right now?

I doubt that when he pays his visit to Washington anyone is going to present Chalabi with a bill, but it might be a good idea. But what would be the total, at least for now? Something tells me Chalabi, who's PUNK'D W & Co. really good, would skip out before anyone made him settle it, no matter what the cost....


  1. Why are we (apparently) still listening to this man? Are 'we' that dumb? I agree, arrest him the moment he steps off the plane...

  2. It's a good question, but Reggie, remember that he's part of the Iraqi ruling government now and has all the goods on Saddam, so the US is beholden to him, which is really one of the most shocking aspects of this whole situation. Supposedly 17 months ago Rice announced the US would be investigating Chalabi, but I saw an article yesterday that said the investigation was being iced, at least for the time being. Mmmmm hmmm....