Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 23, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

MORE CHALABI SPIES....A couple of months ago Bob Drogin of the LA Times broke the story of "Curveball," a key Iraqi informant who showed up in a German refugee camp and claimed that he had built biological warfare trucks for the Iraqi army. Only later did the CIA learn that he was actually the brother of one of Ahmed Chalabi's top aides and had probably been coached to provide false information.

Today, Drogin carries the story a step further:

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.

....Because even friendly spy services rarely share the identities of their informants or let outsiders meet or debrief their sources, it has only in recent months become clear that Chalabi's group sent defectors with inaccurate or misleading information to Denmark, England, Italy, France, Germany, Spain and Sweden, as well as to the United States, the officials said.

...."We had a lot of sources, but it was all coming from the same pot," said a former senior U.S. intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "They were all INC guys. And none of them panned out."

A U.S. official confirmed that defectors from Chalabi's organization had provided suspect information to numerous Western intelligence agencies. "It's safe to say he tried to game the system," the official said.

Those toughminded, hardnosed, not-afraid-to-face-the-real-world neocons sure picked the wrong guy to place their faith in, didn't they? But hey at least Chalabi and the Iranians got exactly what they wanted: the downfall of Saddam Hussein. And Osama bin Laden got exactly what he wanted too: a Western occupying force in the heart of the Arab world to act as a recruiting device for al-Qaeda. The neocons played their assigned role in this drama to perfection.

Unfortunately, the phrase "useful idiots" is already taken, so we'll have to come up with a new one for these guys. Any ideas?

Kevin Drum 2:20 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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