It’s Chalabi Day!

Judy Miller’s good friend arrives in the U.S. today. Think Progress provides a Chalabi refresher to commemorate the special day.

PENTAGON FUNDED CHALABI TO PROVIDE RATIONALE FOR WAR: The Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency paid the INC $335,000 a month in the lead-up to the Iraq war to gather intelligence. In all, the Bush White House has given the INC at least $39 million over the past 5 years. [IPS, 5/23/04; New Yorker, 6/7/04]

CHALABI’S IRAQI NATIONAL CONGRESS WAS MAJOR SOURCE OF DATA FOR PENTAGON OFFICE OF SPECIAL PLANS: According to a report in the New Yorker, analysts based in the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans “relied on data gathered by other intelligence agencies and also on information provided by the Iraqi National Congress, or I.N.C., the exile group headed by Ahmad Chalabi.” “You had to treat [the I.N.C.] with suspicion,” a former Middle East station chief said of Chalabi’s people. ‘The I.N.C. has a track record of manipulating information because it has an agenda. It’s a political unit-not an intelligence agency.’” [New Yorker, 5/12/03]

CHALABI ATTENDED PLANNING MEETING AT THE PENTAGON JUST DAYS AFTER 9/11 ATTACKS: On September 18, 2001, Richard Perle convened a two-day meeting of the Defense Policy Board, a group that advises the Pentagon. Chalabi, who was a guest speaker at this meeting, made a presentation on the Iraqi threat. [Vanity Fair, 5/04]

CHALABI STOVEPIPED INTEL TO BUSH; DISSENTING CIA AND STATE ANALYSES REMAINED SECRET: According to The New Yorker, “Chalabi’s defector reports were …flowing from the Pentagon directly to the Vice-President’s office, and then on to the President, with little prior evaluation by intelligence professionals.” State Dept. Intelligence expert Greg Thielmann said, “There was considerable skepticism throughout the intelligence community about the reliability of Chalabi’s sources, but the defector reports were coming all the time. Knock one down and another comes along. Meanwhile, the garbage was being shoved straight to the President.” The INC also takes credit for providing raw, unsubstantiated information directly to John Hannah, then-special assistant for national security in Vice President Dick Cheney’s office. [The New Yorker, 10/27/03; Newsweek, 12/15/03]

CHALABI PROVIDED AGENT CURVEBALL TO AFFIRM SUPPOSED EXISTENCE OF SADDAM’S BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS LABS: “A U.S. official confirmed that defectors from Chalabi’s organization had provided suspect information to numerous Western intelligence agencies. ‘It’s safe to say he tried to game the system,’ the official said.” A discredited INC defector to Germany who was code-named ‘Curveball’ was the chief source of information on Iraq’s supposed fleet of mobile germ weapons factories. Curveball was the brother of a top lieutenant to Ahmed Chalabi, the group’s leader and now a member of the Iraqi Governing Council. [LA Times, 5/23/04; Knight-Ridder, 4/3/04]

CHALABI PLANTED FABRICATED NEWS STORIES: Chalabi was the source for discredited news stories about Iraq and weapons of mass destruction which were penned by New York Times reporter Judith Miller. In 2001, Miller wrote a front-page story about claims that Saddam had twenty secrety WMD sites hidden in Iraq. The information turned out to be bogus. Chalabi’s group arranged Miller’s interview with the source and, according to the New Yorker, Miller’s exclusive story came just “three days after [the source] had shown deception in a polygraph test administered by the C.I.A. at the request of the Defense Intelligence Agency.” [New York Times, 2/26/04; The New Yorker, 6/7/04; Columbia Journalism Review, July 2004]

CHALABI SHRUGS OFF MISLEADING U.S.: “Mr Chalabi, by far the most effective anti-Saddam lobbyist in Washington, shrugged off charges that he had deliberately misled US intelligence. ‘We are heroes in error,’ he told the Telegraph in Baghdad.” [Daily Telegraph, 2/19/04]

CHALABI ACCUSED OF PASSING U.S. SECRETS TO IRAN: In June 2004, Chalabi came under investigation for allegations that he passed secret intelligence to Iran. Chalabi is accused of telling the Iranian government that the U.S. had broken the code it used for secret communications. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice promised Congress a full investigation into the allegations. But the Wall Street Journal reports that “there is little sign of progress in a federal investigation of allegations that he once leaked U.S. intelligence secrets to Iran.” [Washington Post, 6/3/04; WSJ, 11/7/05]

CHALABI ACCUSED OF ENGAGING IN COUNTERFEITING OPERATION IN POST-WAR IRAQ: The AP reported in August 2004 that Iraq had issued an arrest warrant for Ahmad Chalabi on counterfeiting charges. The warrants “accused Ahmad Chalabi of counterfeiting old Iraqi dinars – which had been removed from circulation following the fall of Saddam’s regime last year…Police found the counterfeit money along with old dinars in Ahmad Chalabi’s house during a May raid.” A judge later dismissed the counterfeit charges for lack of evidence. [AP, 8/8/04; Washington Post, 9/28/04]

CHALABI CONVICTED FOR EMBEZZLEMENT: Critics have questioned the credibility of Ahmad Chalabi because in 1992 he was convicted by a Jordanian court of embezzling funds from a bank where he was employed. According to the Independent, “By 1992 he [Chalabi] was convicted in absentia of embezzlement and fraud, and his sentence of 22 years hard labour stands to this day. Jordan claims the debacle cost the state $300 million.” [Independent, 4/13/03]

CHALABI CURRENTLY HEADING IRAQI OIL MINISTRY: Chalabi has maintained leadership over the oil ministry while also retaining the post of deputy prime minister in Iraq. [London Times, 4/28/05]