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Ahmed Chalabi is an international fugitive, wanted in Jordan for embezzlement, fraud, and a host of other banking crimes for which he's been sentenced to 22 years at hard labor (he escaped across the border at night in the trunk of a car, having made off with more than $70 million). Ahmed Chalabi is a liar and a fraud, and primarily concentrated his efforts on making himself and his associates fat and wealthy via his pose as an Iraqi "dissident leader." You see, Ahmed Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress (INC) ran, for more than a decade, a campaign to convince the U.S. government to overthrow the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein. Among other things, they were a "defector"-mill. They supplied Iraqi "defectors" to the press and to government agencies who told the tales the INC hoped would garner support for an overthrow of the Baghdad regime. The "defectors" were phony; their stories were fabrications; they were  coached in what to say (often to the point of being obvious), and nothing they ever said checked out.

Before the nature of his organization had become obvious, Chalabi had cultivated powerful friends in the capitol. The U.S. government supplied he and his organization with millions of dollars in the 1990s. Chalabi had spent years running a con-job on the Clinton administration, collecting lots and lots of money, and offering only phony "intelligence" (supplied by those "defectors") and a lot of slick talk in place of anything tangible. In 1996, the administration tired of it, and the CIA cut them off. Chalabi's Republican allies in congress managed to restore a modest annual INC stipend in 1998 (through the State Department), but the writing was on the wall; the U.S. government wasn't interested in their bullshit anymore. By the time the Bush administration came into office, years of bitter experience had meant this was also the case with every other major intel agency in the world, and with the UN, as well. Everyone was hip to their scam, and no one would give them the time of day.

Unfortunately, then came Bush.

Bush and his underlings wanted a war with Iraq. The Sept. 11th attack opened an opportunity for it. They just needed a way to sell it. Chalabi was just the man they needed. By 2002, the State Department, which oversaw the INC's stipend, had reached the same conclusion as everyone else about the organization--when State learned that Chalabi couldn't account for half of the money he'd received (it had likely gone directly into the bank accounts of he and his friends), State was prepared to cut them off. The White House intervened, shifting the INC's account from State to the Defense Department, where Chalabi had lots of friends. Within days of the Sept. 11th attacks, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had assembled the Defense Policy Board; though al Qaida, based in Afghanistan, had been behind the attack, the board's meetings concentrated primarily on the possibility of arranging a U.S. attack on Iraq. Chalabi was asked to participate in the meeting. The head of the board, Richard Perle, was a close personal friend of Chalabi's. So was Rumsefeld's right-hand-man Paul Wolfowitz. Other Chalabi pals included "Scooter" Libby (Dick Cheney's chief of staff), Douglas Feith (head of the Pentagon's political wing, and the one who ran the "Cabal" group), and William Luti (who worked with Feith's "Cabal" group). Very quickly, the administration brought the disgraced Chalabi and his INC in from the cold.

When the intelligence community failed in their assigned task of coming up with something to act as a rationale for war, the "Cabal" group in the Pentagon was established. One of the things they did was to begin collecting the tales of Chalabi's "defectors"; Chalabi graciously began providing more and more of them, with "new" information--tales that grew taller than ever. It was nonsense, but it was what Bush, Cheney, and co. wanted people to hear. The Bush gang wasn't being played by Chalabi--they knew exactly what they were getting from him. It's the only reason they wanted him. Chalabi, for his part, wanted to be the president of Iraq. Every plan advanced by his friends in the Pentagon presumed he'd be installed in that position.

Chalabi's defectors were used, by Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the rest, to undermine the U.S. government's own intelligence agencies. The Cabal took down the ludicrous INC "defector" stories and sent them up the stovepipe to the highest echelon of the administration, without ever subjecting them to any assessment by professional analysts as to sources, accuracy, or credibility. Some of the "defector" stories best publicized by the administration was the claim that Saddam Hussein was running a terrorist training camp at Salman Pak, training terrorists in the hijacking of aircraft, and--even more widely traveled--the claim that Iraq had a fleet of mobile bio-weapons labs (both now discredited, like all of the other defector tales). Rumsfeld openly bragged, at a press conference, about how he made it a practice to use this "information" to undermine the professional intelligence community, bombarding his puzzled intel briefers with questions gleaned from these "sources", sending them back to chase down what were, in reality, phantoms. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence documented how the Cabal was being allowed to brief top policymakers on this "information," which Dick Cheney praised as better than the work being done by the CIA.

Everyone had known, for years, that Chalabi was a liar and a fraud. The punchline, here, is that, after the U.S. invasion, we learned that Chalabi was something else: he and his top lieutenant were unmasked as agents of Iranian intelligence.

The "President" of the United States and his top deputies brought in a man to undermine our own government agencies, a man who was a spy presumably carrying out the policy agenda of the Iranian mullahs.

Quite a story.

A pity no one in the corporate press seems interested in telling it.

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