Editorial Roundup for Saturday — November 12, 2005

• Iraq: A Washington homecoming for a cockroach

Iraq: A Washington homecoming for a cockroach

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Nov.

Ahmad Chalabi, who helped bamboozle the Bush administration into invading Iraq, will arrive in Washington today to begin an eight-day visit to the United States.

The proper way to welcome him would be slap hand-cuffs on him. Instead, Mr. Chalabi, who is now Iraq’s deputy prime minister, has appointments with Treasury Secretary John Snow and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; he may meet with Vice President Dick Cheney and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley. He has a speech scheduled before the American Enterprise Institute, the neo-conservative think-tank which nurtured the pre-war hallucinations about how painless the entire Iraq enterprise would be.

Indeed, it was at the AEI on Oct. 3, 2002, that Mr. Chalabi and his American sponsor, Richard Perle, then head of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board, predicted that the Iraqi people would welcome the overthrow of Saddam Hussein; that the intervention would be paid for out of Iraq’s oil revenues and that Mr. Chalabi might head a transitional government that would keep order and prevent random violence.

That was three years, 300 billion U.S. dollars and 17,000 U.S. casualties ago. Mr. Chalabi also urged the “de-Baathification” of the Iraqi Army, a dreadful mistake that has contributed to so much chaos in Iraq.

How did Ahmad Chalabi even get a U.S. travel visa, much less an appointment with the secretary of state? The Senate is feuding over prewar intelligence failures, for which Mr. Chalabi bears much blame. Mr. Cheney’s former chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, is under fresh indictment for lying about his involvement in a case involving bogus intelligence. New York Times reporter Judith Miller spent 85 days in jail protecting Mr. Libby, but may be drummed out of the Times for her gullibility in buying Mr. Chalabi’s claims about Saddam’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction.

Mr. Chalabi, 60, is an MIT-educated mathematician who later became an international banker and a fugitive from bank fraud charges in Jordan. He has survival skills that a cockroach would envy. When the Iraqi people rejected his kind offer of becoming their new American-allied ruler, he began forging alliances with the other side. He made nice with Muqtada al Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric, and then with the government of Iran. Indeed, in April 2004, U.S. troops raided his offices looking for evidence that he’d tipped off Iran that U.S. cryptographers had broken their codes.

With friends like this….

Lately he’s been in Tehran, cozying up to Iran’s new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Just two weeks ago, Mr. Ahmadinejad called for Israel to be “wiped off the map.” Now Mr. Chalabi is back in Washington with his neo-con pals, who wanted Saddam removed in part so Israel would be more secure.

This is a mark of just how desperate the Bush administration is over Iraq, that Ahmad the Bamboozler – who helped break things in the first place – is now seen as a key to putting things back together. Desperate, or clueless.


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