Reproduced here with the permission of Richard Sale and Milt Bearden. Richard informs me that all of this was "on the record." pl
I have been busy working on the Balkans, but wanted to provide some data about Chalabi and Iran.
According to more than half a dozen CIA operatives, including former clandestine DO officials, "Agency people became aware that Chalabi had probably been a long-time agent for Iran," in the words of one. These sources, including Whitley Bruner, say that Chalabi was long ago working for Iran in Lebanon, even before the agency recruited him in 1991 and stuck him in as head of the INC. Bruner said of Chalabi: "He never gave the agency any intel on Iran, never submitted to being debriefed.’ adding, "He was Iran’s guy."
Bruner and others claim that Chalabi "wanted to start low-intensity war with Iraq. He hoped we would get sucked in." The plan was that the INC would "appeal to US benefactors and we would rescue our proxies."
Former CIA agent, Bob Baer who went into Kurdistan in 1994, said that Chalabi always came into Kurdistan from Iran, where he had a villa. He said Chalabi was very close to Iranians, and covert operators said IRG folk were often at his house in Salauddin.
The INC was totally penetrated by Iranian and Iraqi agents but the CIA didn’t care. Chalabi was never entrusted with any secret operations. He was be the day to day manager of INC which was putting out anti-Saddam gray propaganda. We wanted Saddam to know about the INC just to keep the pressure on him.
In 1996, the CIA was trying to organize a serious attempt to overthrow Saddam using the INA, headed by a former Saddam hit man, Iyad Allawi who had broken with Saddam and walked in to work for MI-6 in the late 1970s. The Brits eventually brought him to the CIA in 1992. Allawi had assets inside Saddam’s military but Chalabi betrayed the coup out of jealousy. The INA was the preferred CIA instrument, its intelligence was being checked out by technical means, and its success would have meant the end of Chalabi’s funding.
In any case, Chalabi got caught fabricating information and the CIA cut him off. He merely went to the Pentagon and the checks kept coming because his fabricated intelligence on Iraq’s WMD was so essential to selling the war, this from a man who had already failed four CIA polygraphs so that the agency had issued a "burn" notice on him by the late 1990s.
In 2004, Chalabi betrayed to Iran the fact the NSA was listening to mail belonging to Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS). Milt Bearden called me in real distress the day the Iranian channel went off the air.
But Chalabi’s real goal was to get rid of the Baathists in Iraq, and get rid of the army. In spite of promises we had made to senior Iraqi military, some of whom facilitated our entry into Iraq in 2003, Bremer, Wolfowitz and Chalabi broke all those promises and the Iraqis joined the insurgency.
All the best,
I’m speechless and feel like screaming, but not surprised after seeing all the ugly faces involved in this mess. To think that people in leadership positions would hobnob with a guy like this! This disgraceful invasion episode with all its twisted agendas should be indellibly stamped in the minds of all aspirants to national leadership in perpetuity.
You said it well for me, too, Mr. Henning. Hard to believe it could be any more craven than it already WAS! But, of course, NOT hard to believe….at all, sad to say.
God help us. How are these people allowed to get away with zero accountability? How?
If they are allowed to get away with all this, aren’t the people who are allowing it also complicit? Also answerable?
Meaning, the American people. Congress. Someone with integrity must….must come forward.
No one takes Dennis Kucinich or Ron Paul seriously. At least they tell the truth. At least they have the courage to speak out when no one else is.
Has the Bush administration and their supporters now removed
“Duty. Honor. Country”?
What a sad, sad part of American history.
How could this have happened?
Why do we continue to let it?
Excuse me a bit of skepticism but how come the news that CIA had ‘burned’ Chalabi by the late 1990’s hasn’t appeared before? Baer’s observation that Chalabi entered Iraq from Iran is hardly proof of his loyalty to Iran; he could not very well entered from Jordan, where he was wanted for embezzlement, after all.
This:Bruner and others claim that Chalabi “wanted to start low-intensity war with Iraq. He hoped we would get sucked in.” The plan was that the INC would “appeal to US benefactors and we would rescue our proxies.” just seems plain dumb.
Worst of all, did anyone from CIA talk to the Pentagon, informing people about Chalabi? Surely there must be some record of that and someone, somewhere willing to make it public. It would bring down the Bush Administration, I should think.
I don’t care about Chalabi and hate this insane occupation deeply but I don’t believe these claims about Chalabi stand up to critical thinking. Lots of posterity papers are being written and these sorts of accusations will be commonplace before its all over.
If this is all true about Chalabi then he has betrayed Iraq and the Iraqis as well as the US.
I did wonder if the Iraqi army didn’t melt away in April 2003 on purpose. IF this cooperating army was later destroyed by US order, in order to help Chalabi’s private mission, then Chalabi is a traitor to his own people as well as to his US friends. Iraq’s destruction is on his head.
…then Chalabi is a traitor to his own people as well as to his US friends.
Leila, if this is true, it seems our OWN leaders (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al) are traitors to America too. There’s no possible way they didn’t know this about Chalabi. Perhaps the (presumably) tongue-in-cheek speculation about Cheney being an Iranian mole has some merit.
Ah, but you are mistaken. CIA’s break with Chalabi has been widely reported.
Chalabi’s plan “seems dumb” to you? Who are you, Chalabi’s lawyer?
Surely you know that the CIA and “the Pentagon” often work at cross purposes on the basis of organizational revilary. Surely you know that the US government, like any government, is not a monolith.
Your opinion about whether or not “these claims” stand up sounds like special pleading. pl
Anyone know what happened to his security chief, Araz Habib who was supposed to have been an Iranian agent or the FBI investigation into who leaked to Tehran that Washington had broken Iran’s spy codes back in ’04?
There is nothing “tongue in cheek” about it. pl
“In any case, Chalabi got caught fabricating information and the CIA cut him off. He merely went to the Pentagon and the checks kept coming because his fabricated intelligence on Iraq’s WMD was so essential to selling the war, this from a man who had already failed four CIA polygraphs so that the agency had issued a ‘burn’ notice on him by the late 1990s.”
As I understand it, however, that burn notice would have meant that DOD couldn’t pick him up, either. Such a decision by the DCI automatically means the Pentagon can’t adopt him. It would have had to be an Executive Office.
All those who knowingly used Chalabi supplied misinformation to drum up public support for the Iraq invasion have committed treason. I don’t doubt that Cheney, Wolfowitz, Feith, etc knew about the CIA “burn” notice. By using Pentagon funds and Rendon Group along with the Judy Miller’s to create the war hysteria that has led to this disaster and sacrifice of blood and treasure is nothing short of high crimes.
Unfortunately we the people will not demand a public investigation where those that knowingly caused this disater will be held to account. The Administration and Congress will always hide behind “classified” information and threat to national security through disclosure of these activities. And we the people will let them. As a result in another period a similar scam maybe even greater will be perpetrated.
By the way wasn’t it Chalabi who produced Khidir Hamza when he defected to the United States with his documents of Saddams nuclear progam?
Col. Lang, With respect, it’s not me employing special pleading, especially since I don’t give a damn what happens to Chalabi.
CIA’s break with Chalabi has been widely reported
Was that before or during the run-up to the war, the war itself and the early days of the occupation. Perhaps I missed it, but if senior CIA people were saying at that time, publicly, that the man was not trustworthy, I think I might have heard about it.
Of course I’m aware that there is a rivalry between intelligence agencies. That’s why this seems a bit like CIA CYA to me.
I have no way of assessing Bruner’s credibility, but it’s his report that seems dumb to me. I mean we would rescue our proxies? Since when? Certainly the Shia didn’t think so, not after the first Gulf War, and based on Baer’s own reporting about his aborted Kurdish adventures it hardly seems likely that anybody would bet on the US rescuing an ill-starred revolution. Just my 02. cents.
I don’t see anybody rushing to take credit for this imbecilic war, but lots of advancing to the rear. This just seems like a CIA broadside against the Pentagon using Chalabi.
Now if it’s true that the Iranians ran this whole thing using Chalabi then how was he rehabilitated?
re araz habib — has an arrest warrant for his ugly hide. see http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5019721/
jr786, all of these facts have been out for quite some time, before the 2004 election even, it’s just that neither the press nor the non-specialist public understands/cares enough to press the issue.
That Chalabi entered Iraqi Kurdistan via Iran was one of the least damning observations highlighted in Robert Baer’s first book, _See No Evill_(which inspired the movie Syriana). The episode where Chalabi forged NSC documents and provided them(among many other things) to Iran thereby exposing anti-Saddam ops as well as ruining Baer’s career was of more interest to me as it was basically a dress-rehearsal for Chalabi’s self-serving lying campaign in the run-up to the 2003 war.
“did anyone from CIA talk to the Pentagon, informing people about Chalabi?”
Yes, but as the author of this blog pointed out in Drinking the Kool-Aid, the Pentagon didn’t care so long as they got their war, which they assumed would be a pushover.
You are right in that the revelations highlighted here should have brought down the Bush administration, and I sent the Kool-Aid article to everyone I knew before election day 2004, but sadly a majority of America didn’t digest the massive incompetency of this administration until 2005.
There is nothing “tongue in cheek” about it. pl
The consequences of believing that are almost too terrible to contemplate. Not that that doesn’t mean it’s the truth.
Can we impeach them now, and find out?
The coup no one deigned to notice? Mercy.
You need to stop seeing villains and conspiracy everywhere. None of the people named in Sale’s piece would do enything to help anyone do any of the silly things you suggest. pl
The Iraki Shia naturally gravitate to Iran. Likewise the Persicos naturally visit the Shiite holy sites in Irak and look after their Iraki Shiite brothers. That’s a fact of life, Period. The Saddam Iran-Irak War was a Baathish aberration.
Just because the Americans have a hard-on for the Persicos doesn’t mean the Iraki Shiites are going to write them off. They are going to find a way to accommodate both parties. And that goes for the Kurds too.
The Israelis find themselves in a similar three sided game- trying to stay friendly with the Turks and Kurds at the same time. Ditto for the Americans.
“In 2004, Chalabi betrayed to Iran the fact the NSA was listening to mail belonging to Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS).”
Hmmmm. At RAF Chicksands we used to say “If God had a radio, we’d monitor it.” Iran knew that No Such Agency was listening even if we can’t decipher their traffic. Hell, everyone knows we’re listening. Iran didn’t need Chalabi to tell them that.
So did Chalabi do something more serious, like compromise highly specific technical abilities or resources? That’s what it sounds like to me.
That opens a whole can of worms. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the next 5 to 10 years as crap continues oozing out about this administration’s screw-ups.
Chalabi certainly seems to be useful to all sides. Most interesting is if he was recruited in Lebanon before 91 by Iran. The Chalabi family seems to have it’s deepest roots in Lebanon but much of the activities is under-reported. But MEBCO and it’s ties with the Amal miltia in the 80s should have been known to the CIA. Why was Chalabi choosen to run an Iraqi opposition group if the bank he founded acted as the Iranian banker in Lebanon?
I’m just a non-specialist member of the public, but I was well aware by 2002-2003 that the CIA and State considered Chalabi poisonous.
Assume that Bremer and Wolfowitz wanted to act in the best interests of the U.S. (1) Did they break promises to senior Iraqi military because of the advice of Chalabi or for other reasons? (2) If they relied on Chalabi’s advice, why did they think Chalabi reliable? I suspect that they did rely on Chalabi– but in light of his reputed criminal activities in Jordan, the Iranian connection ,etc. , why?
I remember discussing the burn notice story with a guy back in 2002. It was there when you cared to look.
Typical reaction then was that the Americans I spoke with about it, or for that instance anything contradicting administration claims, couldn’t decide based on contradicting info and made their pick based on … rolling the d20? gut feeling? appeal? haircut? sympathy?
Amusing sidenote, some of the more rabid Americans I met then already knew the truth. After all, they had eaten it with a spoon. They then dropped something along the line that the CIA, along with the State Department were not only pussies, but traitors to leak stuff like that and undermine the president, and would be dealt with. To continue fluently and praise the troops for serving their country.
My first impression when I read the article was that the neo-cons in the Middle East are carps in a pond of luce.
to speak out what you hint at, assuming the NSA could read Iranian traffic: If the Iranians went off the air suddenly that would reasonably indcate they somehow found out that they’re not only listened to but that the NSA understood what they said.
That would suggest that the Iranians reasonably would switch over to more secure channels to counter that. Observing them doing that would confirm the above suspicion.
Question is if they found out themselves, did it by random or only after being tipped off by someone unknown or Chalabi.
Second question then would be who told him. Did Chalabi have a security clearance? I doubt it. So who gave him the info? Someone from or around the Defense Department? Office of the Vice President? I would expect that all possibilities should the subject of a thorough probe.
To unravel all these threads we need a few episodes of X-files; I think that chain-smoking fellow has got something to say about all this.
In fact, I would not be too surprised at all to find out that the Aliens want to maintain a state of constant turmoil on Earth lest we get off this planet, discover them, and to unto them what the White Man did to the native peoples of Africa, America, and Oceania.
We know Chalabi has a Ph.D. in a difficult branch of Mathematics called Knot Theory with applications to Statistical Physics, Fluid Mechanics, General Relativity etc. We know he is supposed to be a Shia Iraqi – but how do we know he is even human?