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May 24, 2004

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, That's What I Have For Chalabi

Glen Rangwala points out that Al-Mutamar, the newspaper of the Iraqi National Congress -- Ahmad Chalabi's group -- is claiming the INC hasn't been getting money from the US:

INC denies receiving US funding
(Al-Mutamar) – The Iraqi National Congress has denied receiving financial assistance from the US administration. INC leader Mudhar Shawket talked about an intensive campaign directed by known bodies in the US administration and the Department of States [sic] to defame INC Head Ahmed al-Chalabi and the rest of the INC leadership. He said some media outlets connected to the CIA said Chalabi or the INC received $300,000 monthly aid from the Pentagon. Shawket denied the allegation saying the INC is funded by the members' donations. He asked all media outlets to be sure of their stories before publishing them.

This is why Chalabi's the kind of power-mad would-be dictator I can get behind: he and his people have no shame of any kind. To claim the INC wasn't getting money from the US is so brazenly false it's beautiful -- it's like claiming Chalabi has five heads. And does it embarrass them? No, it doesn't. You would be embarrassed to get up in public and say Chalabi has five heads, and so would I. But they go right ahead and do it, and then, in a master stroke, chide "media outlets" for reporting he just has one head.

There's this urban legend that Mr. Chalabi just has one head. Well, it's not true. Journalists on Saddam's payroll are responsible for spreading these lies. They are the only ones who claim he has one head, when in truth he has five. At least five, possibly more. Plus he has seventeen legs and ten thousand arms. Please, be sure of your stories before publishing them.

Here's another Chalabi-riffic example, from a Frontline special on Iraq:

NARRATOR: We talked to Chalabi at INC headquarters in Baghdad.

MARTIN SMITH: You had argued for a long time that [Iraq was] tightly connected with al Qaeda. As far back as '98, I remember meeting with you [...] and you told me there were lots of connections.

AHMAD CHALABI: Yes, there were.

MARTIN SMITH: Well, those have not quite been demonstrated... Do you have any documentary evidence of any kind?

AHMAD CHALABI: Yes. There is such a document.

MARTIN SMITH: That is a document that you could show us?

AHMAD CHALABI: Well I-- I-- I've seen it, but I don't have it in my possession. But they could show it to you, I think.

MARTIN SMITH: Who can show it to me?

AHMAD CHALABI: Well, our intelligence people.

MARTIN SMITH: Your intelligence people? So after this interview, we can--

AHMAD CHALABI: I-- I don't know if you can do it right now.

MARTIN SMITH: Well, I think its very important to make this-- this is something you've talked about since '98, and I think its a very important point. Its one of the points that drew America to this war.


MARTIN SMITH: So I mean, if there is such a document, it makes sense for you to share it, no?

AHMAD CHALABI: I'm not saying no. No. I'm saying that I can't-- I--

MARTIN SMITH: I'm somehow not getting the feeling that I'm going to see the document.

AHMAD CHALABI: Well, you are erroneous.

MARTIN SMITH: OK. Great. I hope to see it.

AHMAD CHALABI: Well, we expect to show it to you.

NARRATOR: The document was supposed to demonstrate money changing hands between Saddam Hussein's government and al Qaeda. After repeated requests, FRONTLINE has still not seen the document.

Now, contrast Chalabi's bravado with the mealymouthed way the Bush administration deceives us. For instance, in the run-up to the war, they rarely lied straight out about WMD in Iraq. (They did sometimes, but not much.) Instead, they would lie by omission or misdirection. A good example is this sentence from the 2003 State of the Union address: "The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed in the 1990s that Saddam Hussein had an advanced nuclear weapons development program, had a design for a nuclear weapon and was working on five different methods of enriching uranium for a bomb."

Now, that's completely true. The IAEA did confirm this "in the 1990s." The EARLY 1990s. In the early 1990s, they confirmed this had happened before the Gulf War in 1991. Then, by 1998, the IAEA confirmed they'd completely dismantled Iraq's nuclear program. Then in 2003, before Bush's speech, they again confirmed Iraq had nothing.

Do you see what I mean? Obviously the Bush administration wanted to mislead us. So why bother with something that's technically true? Why not just lie? Let me tell you, if my friend Ahmad Chalabi had been president, he would have told us, "Saddam is ten miles tall and can shoot nuclear photon torpedos out of his nose. The only hope we have is for me to lead us into war, with my five heads."

And that's why the Bush administration is not fit to carry Chalabi's jock. His capacious, capacious jock.

Posted at May 24, 2004 08:01 PM | TrackBack

Poor Dick Cheney. A short year ago he was the Johnny Sack of government, the power behind the throne, the real boss of bosses, the late-middle-aged model of savvy and toughness. He was a guy that an insightful but style-and-celebrity-addled political columnist had to admire even after subtracting the necessary 50 cool points for his having a hopelessly unattractive wife. Now he's shown to be poor Uncle Junior, effortlessly manipulated by Chalabi's Olivia Soprano. And scraggy-looking, relentlessly plodding Agent Harris is now leading in every poll...

Posted by: Maureen Dowd at May 25, 2004 02:09 AM

Jon, I wrote that earlier today; thought you'd like it. BTW, I checked put your writing. Good stuff, especially the Harry Potter piece.

Posted by: Sean Flaherty at May 25, 2004 02:12 AM

And this post is excellent; stuff on Chalabi I haven't seen anywhere else.

Posted by: Sean Flaherty at May 25, 2004 02:42 AM

Nice one.
But hey, I think you're confused. That's not a Frontline transcript, it's a rare, unused Monty Python script, isn't it?

MARTIN SMITH: I'm somehow not getting the feeling that I'm going to see the document.

AHMAD CHALABI: Well, you are erroneous.

MARTIN SMITH: OK. Great. I hope to see it.

AHMAD CHALABI: Well, we expect to show it to you.
MARTIN SMITH: Then I REALLY hope to see it.
AHMAD CHALABI: Well, we will most undoubtably be showing it to you, sir. The whole document, the document in it's whole. A document...
MARTIN SMITH: Then I can see it...
AHMAD CHALABI: Sir! You will be able to do more than just SEE it! You will be able to waft in its odour, your eyes will drink in...
(Knocking sound)
(Enter C.I.A. and F.B.I. agents dressed as the Spanish Inquisition)
AHMAD CHALABI: I never expected the Spanish Inquisition....
The question is will Chalabi get anything worse than the comfy chair?

You have seen/read the "WMD Shop Skit", right?

Posted by: Sonicg at May 26, 2004 12:15 AM


No! I assume you are referring to a rewriting of the Cheese Shop Skit. Does such a thing actually exist, or are you cruelly joking about something that should not be joked about?

If it does exist, please tell me where. I've thought for some time that somebody should do it, but I didn't really want that somebody to be me.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at May 26, 2004 02:55 PM

Yep- the Cheese Shop skit. "Not much of a country with weapons of mass destruction, now is it?"

I don't think I kept a copy and I tried goggling it to no avail. I'm sure it must have meade it to some mail lists. I think I got it on a Subgenius list. I'll try to dig it up.

Posted by: Sonicg at May 26, 2004 11:51 PM

Goggled when I should've googled. Found via my own post to some forum:

I'll save the text, lemme know if you can't access it.

Posted by: Sonicg at May 26, 2004 11:57 PM