Wednesday, November 09, 2005

He's Back

I know I have put up more political posts than usual lately, and I have actually been making a conscious attempt at limiting them because they tend to be a bit polarizing, but when I saw a report on Yahoo! that Ahmed Chalabi would meet with Condoleeza Rice today, I couldn't resist comment.

Ahmed Chalabi is Iraqi's Deputy Prime Minister, but those of you who pay attention may remember him as the guy whom President Bush met with in the Oval Office, but then whom Bush later claimed he had little recognition of ever meeting, even though Chalabi was a special guest of First Lady Laura Bush at the President's Jan 2004 State Of The Union Address .

February 7, 2004, G.W. Bush on Chalabi: "...right here in the Oval Office I sat down with Mr. [Adnad] Pachachi and Chalabi and al-Hakim, people from different parts of the country that have made the firm commitment, that they want a constitution eventually written that recognizes minority rights and freedom of religion. "

June 1, 2004, Bush, again, on Chalabi: "My meetings with him were very brief. I mean, I think I met with him at the State of the Union and just kind of working through the rope line, and he might have come with a group of leaders. But I haven't had any extensive conversations with him. "

Okay, here's the long story of why he is such a controversial figure. Long ago, Chalabi was viewed by the U.S. as our "inside man" in Middle East relations. Chalabi was born in Iraq but moved to the U.S. back in the 1950's where he recieved his education. He started a bank in Jordan, and was subsequently convicted of bank fraud and sentenced to 17 years in prison. He fled the country to avoid serving the time.

In the 1990's he created a group called the INC (Iraqi National Congress) designed to overthow Saddam Hussein. The INC recieved funding from the United States and helped to organize a failed Kurdish resistance movement against Hussein's regime.

Fast forward to 2003. When the U.S. was readying its case for war on Iraq, Chalabi was counted on as a source; he provided key information that Saddam Hussein possessed WMDs and ties to Al-Qaeda. Once that information turned out to be false, Washington was suddenly backpedaling from their ties to Chalabi.

Then, in 2004, Chalabi was reported as giving United States state secrets to Iran. Yes, Iran.

So, why was Chalabi welcomed in Washington today today for meetings on Iraqi energy plans with Rice, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld, instead of with FBI investigators to discuss the intelligence failures?

Someone please explain.

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