The thing about cancer and psychotic zombies from cheap horror films is that there's this nagging tendency to keep coming back. So too is it true of Ahmad Chalabi, surfacing as scum might break the surface of a pond in Sunday's New York Times op-ed pages, gratuitously opining on the needless, foolhardy war he helped push this nation into several years ago.
In the editorial, Chalabi catches up with recent events -- specifically, a Status of Forces Agreement that sets a firm deadline for withdrawal and a timetable that U.S. forces are to follow as they make their exodus from the Iraq War theater. He crows about these events as if he were a party to their occurrence, declares Bush's grand experiment a success in spite of the President (in a moment of dizzyingly high irony, Chalabi accuses Bush of a "manifest failure to honor his word," thus advancing the continuing dialogue betwixt pots and kettles everywhere), and then makes an attempt to worm his way into the graces of the President-elect:
We welcome Mr. Obama's election as a herald of a new direction. It is our hope that his administration will offer Iraq a new and broader partnership. Iraq needs security assistance and guarantees for our funds in the New York Federal Reserve Bank. But we also need educational opportunity, cultural exchange, diplomatic support, trade agreements and the respectful approach due to the world's oldest civilization.
We also hope that Mr. Obama will support the growing need for a regional agreement covering human rights and security encompassing Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran (and any other neighbors so inclined). We have all been victims of terrorism. The mutual fears that have been festering for decades, augmented by secret wars and the incitement of insurrection, are no longer acceptable.
The notion of this man claiming kinship with "victims of terrorism" and complaining of "mutual fears" and "secret wars" ought to spur forth the gorge of anyone who retains any supply of it to waste on the Iraq War. Chalabi is nothing more than an opportunist, a scofflaw, and a gangster. Prior to hooking up with the Bush White House, he was convicted in absentia in Jordan for embezzlement. He spoonfed the White House bogus intelligence, and was well paid with our tax dollars to do so. He was "Curveball's" coach. He planted fabricated news stories throughout the press. He passed state secrets to the Iranians, and was accused of running a counterfeiting operation in Iraq in 2004.
In the middle of 2004, President George W. Bush famously, and comically, attempted to distance himself from Chalabi, saying: "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." Unfortunately, the visual evidence alone of Chalabi enjoying a prime seat at the State of the Union, seated behind Laura Bush, suggested otherwise. In 2007, he returned as a key figure in Iraq's reconstruction -- because why not put him near taxpayer money again?
He is, in short, the sort of person Barack Obama would be well advised to avoid. But more importantly, he is the sort of manipulative wretch that the New York Times shouldn't be doing business with, either. There was a time when the Times seemed to get that! In the paper's May 26, 2004 apologia, Chalabi is featured by name:
But we have found a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been. In some cases, information that was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged. Looking back, we wish we had been more aggressive in re-examining the claims as new evidence emerged -- or failed to emerge.
The problematic articles varied in authorship and subject matter, but many shared a common feature. They depended at least in part on information from a circle of Iraqi informants, defectors and exiles bent on "regime change" in Iraq, people whose credibility has come under increasing public debate in recent weeks. (The most prominent of the anti-Saddam campaigners, Ahmad Chalabi, has been named as an occasional source in Times articles since at least 1991, and has introduced reporters to other exiles. He became a favorite of hard-liners within the Bush administration and a paid broker of information from Iraqi exiles, until his payments were cut off last week.) Complicating matters for journalists, the accounts of these exiles were often eagerly confirmed by United States officials convinced of the need to intervene in Iraq. Administration officials now acknowledge that they sometimes fell for misinformation from these exile sources. So did many news organizations -- in particular, this one.
The Times it seems, has a regrettably short memory, to afford this man the opportunity to burnish his credibility on their hallowed pages. But readers should not be fooled: Ahmad Chalabi has no credibility, and some of the best news of the war's end, is that Chalabi will soon take his place in the ashbin of history, where he belongs.
Aram Roston: Ahmad Chalabi: Iraq's Master Manipulator [MSNBC]
Jane Mayer: The Manipulator [The New Yorker]
Sleeping With the Enemy: Chalabi's Sordid History [ThinkProgress]
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Ahmad Chalabi Returns As Press Snoozes