23 May 2004

Chalabi Said to Deceive the West

Ahmad Chalabi, the onetime White House favorite who has been implicated in an alleged Iranian spy operation, sent Iraqi defectors to at least eight Western spy services before the war in an apparent effort to dupe them about Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's illicit weapons programs, current and former U.S. intelligence officials said.

U.S. investigators are seeking to determine whether the effort -- which one U.S. official likened to an attempt to 'game the system' -- was secretly supported by Iran's intelligence service to help persuade the Bush administration to oust the regime in Baghdad, Tehran's longtime enemy.

Officials said other evidence indicated that Chalabi's intelligence chief had furnished Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security with highly classified information on U.S. troop movements, top-secret communications, plans of the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority and other closely guarded material on U.S. operations in Iraq.

The U.S. investigation into the suspected spy operation was a key reason behind Thursday's raids on Chalabi's Baghdad house and the offices of his Iraqi National Congress. Several INC members were accused of kidnapping, robbery and corruption.

It's an open question if Chalabi really was acting on behalf of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security. It's not an open question that the Chalabi material has proved grossly inadequate. Shopping untrue stuff to agency after agency until you found a set of bozos stupid enough, or ingenuous enough, to take you on face value must have been frustrating. That the said bozos sat in the Pentagon and the White House with an intelligence doctrine making uninformed preconception equal to factual data must have felt like a fairy tale.

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