. . . Monday May 24, 2004

It’s a Ahmad, Mad, Mad World

Anyone who has an experience level, say, of watching a few episodes of Law and Order or playing a few rounds of Who Stole the Cookie From the Cookie Jar can tell that Ahmad Chalabi is a liar.

His vocal critics have been around for years. He is a wanted man.

So now, are we really expected to believe that the intelligence apparatus of the U.S. just suddenly realized that maybe this guy is not totally on the up and up?

Consider this angle. What if we think of Chalabi not as an enemy to the Bush team but rather as long time member of it in relatively good standing. Under this theory, we are not forced to imagine that one obvious liar could drag the U.S. into a war and could share secrets with the Iranians right under our noses.

Chalabi told the Bush team (and the country on Sunday morning talk shows) what they wanted to hear. Really, it was what they needed (at a minimum) to hear in order to somehow sell an optional and pre-emptive war.

Now, the Iraq situation is spinning (at least in terms of public opinion) out of control. The prison stories are huge and they’ll only get worse. The public (here and abroad) wants heads to roll. But Bush isn’t yet ready to give up a key insider like Rummy. So why not shift the attention to another member of the team? How about a guy who is already surrounded by a shadow of doubt? How about a guy who has been saying things that really piss off W and the neocon government within a government in Washington?

Why not discredit the guy who has already been discredited a thousand times? The media is eating it up (hear anything about that secret prison near the Baghdad Airport this weekend?). Bush is only giving up a soldier who he no longer needs anyway, and one whose absence would never interfere with Rove’s image of a President who is loyal above all else.

What was Chalabi’s first response to the charges against him? He asked to go before Congress and answer any questions (and demanded Tenet do the same). Does that sound like a guy who has been doing his dirty work outside of the view of the administration or with their full blessings?

There is a major political power struggle going on in DC right now. And Chalabi might very well be part of it. And dropping him from the team will make the administration look like it suffered one of the worst dupes in American history. Does a willingness to suffer that perception mean the truth is even worse?

Is this right on the mark? I’m not sure. But it makes a lot more sense that being asked for one second to believe that the most knowledgeable people in the world thought Chalabi was a man to be trusted.

Concentration is important!