|Iran's Iraq Notes|
Iraqis Intimidate in the Name of Religion:
Fear stifles new freedom
by Ken Dilanian
Knight Ridder Newspapers
March 29, 2004
Shi'ite Muslim extremists [&] armed militias...campaign of intimidation to enforce a strict Islamic code of conduct [in Basra].
"We believe that we are the supreme legislative authority in Iraq, because our constitution is the holy Koran, and for us, the holy Koran is the supreme constitution," said Sheikh Abdul-Sattar al Bahadli, who runs [Muqtada al-Sadr's] Basra office...
...al-Sadr's [org does] charitable...community work...[&]...conducts armed patrols, [Al Bahadli] said.
...a January poll by Baghdad's Institute for Civil Society Studies , 67 percent of Basra residents said they felt unsafe in their neighborhoods, compared with 48 percent in Baghdad.
"We're not here to change the culture, and we're not here to create a utopia." "A lot of the problems that are happening here in society are as much for the Iraqis to sort out as well as us." [--Maj. Tim Smith, British army spokesman]
...British officials acknowledged...religious extremism...problem in Basra...
[Basra residents] said the Iraqi police are often too scared -- or too sympathetic -- to fight [gangs & religious militias].
[Iranian-backed]...Badr Brigade...negotiating to integrate...[w/] Iraqi security forces.
Ken Dilanian: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © 2005 Detroit Free Press Inc.
US tests claims that Iran used Chalabi
© Financial Times, 20040525 p8
Byline: GUY DINMORE
[Former intelligence officer and US media say US intel agencies are] investigating whether Iran duped the US [with] false information [re Iraq via Chalabi]
[Chalabi's] home and offices in Baghdad ...raided ...by Iraqi police and plainclothes US "advisers"...
[Chalabi] denied passing US intelligence to Iran or false information to the US. Iraq's judiciary's seeking associates of Mr Chalabi on corruption and kidnapping charges. They include Aziz Habib, his intelligence officer. [AKA Aras Karim Habib, Aras Kareem, Aziz Habib]
...Chalabi accused...Tenet...of trying to discredit him...
...Chalabi...defended by...Wolfowitz,...[Genl] Myers,...Richard Perle...
Patrick Lang, former head of [DIA's] Middle East section...said...DIA suspected Iran... used...Chalabi as a conduit for false intelligence... [and that the DIA had] concluded...Chalabi was passing information to the Iranians.
[Mr Lang:] ...possible that Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim...also a conduit.
The ayatollah...told the Financial Times... his organisation [Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq]...provided the US with information on [Iraqi CW] capabilities.
The former banker [Mr Chalabi] has recently been highly critical of policies pursued by the US in Iraq.
(...Chalabi's role in the decision...to invade Iraq)
The New Yorker, June 7, 2004 v80 i15 p058
© 2004 Condé Nast Publications Inc.
"I followed very closely how Roosevelt, who abhorred the Nazis, at a time when isolationist sentiment was paramount in the United States, managed adroitly to persuade the American people to go to war. I studied it with a great deal of respect; we learned a lot from it. The Lend-Lease program committed Roosevelt to enter on Britain's side--so we had the Iraq Liberation Act, which committed the American people for the liberation against Saddam." [--Ahmad Chalabi]
...Chalabi had lobbied tirelessly for...[ILA] legislation.
...Chalabi's Baghdad home [& offices] ...raided ...by Iraqi police ...supported by American troops.
"It's customary when great events happen that the U.S. punishes its friends and rewards its enemies." [--Chalabi]
...Chalabi developed [CIA] enemies ...disputed...data and questioned his ethics ...[Chalabi] close bond ...[w/Cheney & Pentagon civliians] ...Paul Wolfowitz ...Douglas Feith ...William J.Luti.
[USG gave $100mil to INC (GWB Admin $39mil or more).] ...what the INC provided in exchange ...yet to be fully explained.
"I clarified the picture."[--Chalabi]
[Critics:]...he distorted it.
[Diplo & intel allege:] ...exaggerating the security threat ...defectors ...[w/] misleading or bogus testimony ...questionable stories connecting Saddam to Al Qaeda ...[misunderestimating difficulty of replacing Saddam w/] ...Western-style democracy.
[Chalabi raid and termination of INC's $342k/mo via USG] ...authorized by the White House...
Chalabi's allies at the Pentagon were not notified of the raid in advance...
...allegations ...[INC] members ....embezzlement, theft ...kidnapping. ...Baghdad police...investigating...[INC] lieutenants fled Iraq. [Some for Iran]
...[INC intel chief] Aras Karim Habib ...escaped... ...under investigation [giving Iranians secrets]...
[Chalabi aide:] ...[INC] will be accused of telling [Iran the US] ...cracked one of its internal codes.
"They are charges put out by George Tenet and his C.I.A. to discredit us." [--Ahmad Chalabi, " Meet the Press "]
[Vincent Cannistraro, ex-CIA, counter-terrorism:] ...Pentagon officials connected to Chalabi ...[FBI investigation] whether an American official gave ...[INC secrets] on Iran.
[Of Office of Special Plans documents-]
"Every list of Iraqis they wanted to work with for positions in the government of postwar Iraq included Chalabi and all of the members of his organization." [State Department official]
"Anyone who wants to take power in Baghdad is crazy. I'm just in this to get rid of Saddam." [--Chalabi, LA Times 1994]
"Never is a very long time." [--Chalabi 2004]
"Chalabi is one of the smartest people I know." "...[Chalabi] figured out in the eighties that the road to Baghdad ran through Washington. He cultivated whom he needed to know. If he didn't get what he wanted from State, he went to Capitol Hill. It's a sign of being effective. It's not his fault that his strategy succeeded. It's not his fault that the Bush Administration believed everything he said. Should they have? Of course not. They should have looked critically. He's not a liar; he believed the information he was purveying, and part of it was valuable. But his goal was to get the U.S. to invade Iraq." [--Peter Galbraith]
...[Francis Brooke,] Chalabi's unofficial [DC] lobbyist...
...1991 [PR job w/] Rendon Group... ...John Rendon [ex exec dir of DNC] ...[Brooke's Rendon project] funded by the CIA...
[1991-05 GHWB's] "lethal finding" ...authorized [$100mil for CIA to] "create the conditions for removal of Saddam Hussein from power."
[CIA] decided to create an external opposition movement to Saddam.
[CIA] outsourced the Iraq project to the Rendon Group.
[Rendon] reprimanded ...when too many ...stories [w/ Rendon supplied info in] American press, thereby transgressing laws that prohibited domestic propaganda.
"That is when I first met Dr. Chalabi," [--F. Brooke]
[Robert Baer ex-CIA, Iraq:] ...went with Chalabi  to visit [INC] "forgery shop"...
"It was something like a spy novel," "It was a room where people were scanning Iraqi intelligence documents into computers, and doing disinformation. There was a whole wing of it that he did forgeries in." "...he was forging back then, in order to bring down Saddam." [--R. Baer]
[R. Baer:] [INC forged] ...letter to Chalabi ...[from] Clinton's National Security Council. [Asking] for Chalabi's help ...[w/ US] assassination plot against Saddam.
"It was a complete fake." [--R. Baer]
[R. Baer:] ...an effort to ...[get] Iranians ...[to join] plot against Saddam; [US] involvement, Chalabi hoped, would convince...
[Brooke:] ...[INC ran] forgery shop, but ...Chalabi [had not] created ...[forged] letter.
"That would be illegal." [--F. Brooke]
[Letter led to CIA accusing Baer of involvement w/ assassination plans.]
"We knew we had to create a domestic constituency with some electoral clout, so we decided to use the AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee] model." [--F. Brooke]
[Chalabi] spoke of restoring the oil pipeline from Kirkuk to Haifa... [1998 Jerusalem Post]
[CIA] skeptical of ...[INC supplied] defectors ...insisted on examining them independently. [GWB knew] CIA's view ...soon after taking office...
...Saddam's mobile weapons laboratories.
"...firsthand descriptions of biological weapons factories on wheels and rails." "...one of the most worrisome things that emerges from the thick intelligence file we have on Iraq." [--Colin Powell UN address 2003-02-05 ]
[V. Cannistraro:] ...CIA now believes that Aras Habib ... "arranged for Curveball to be presented to the Germans." "The C.I.A. is positive of it."
[DIA Chalabi sponsors:] most ...information ...received from [INC] defectors was "of little or no value."
[Entifadh Qanbar's INC memo to Senate Appropriations Committee, 2002-06-26:]
[INC gave raw intel to] "U.S. government recipients," including William Luti, at the Pentagon, and John Hannah...
"Accounts of Iraqi defectors were not always weighed against their strong desire to have Saddam Hussein ousted." "It looks as if we, along with the administration, were taken in." [--NYT 2004?-05-26 re NYT pre-war coverage]
Patrick E. Tyler [NYT chief correspondent]...hired Chalabi's niece, Sarah Khalil, to be ...[NYT's Kuwait] office manager... ...Tamara [Chalabi said] ...Khalil helped her father's [Ahmad's] efforts while she was working for the Times.
[2003-04] Chalabi was stranded [by US forces]...
Chalabi ...[called] Khalil...
[Tamara Chalabi:] Khalil commandeered [INC] money ...rounded up ...SUVs, which she herself led ...into Iraq.
[2003-05-20 NYT fired Khalil]
[INC disseminated Atta / Prague story.]
[INC sponsored defector w/ INC translator, Abu Zeinab al-Qurairy - Salman Pak story 2002-02 Vanity FairR, David Rose]
[INC sponsored defector, Sabah Khalifa Khodada al-Lami - Salman Pak + anthrax 2001-11-12.]
...[Khidhir Hamza scientist & sr admin of 1980s Iraqi Nuke program] defected ...in 1994. ...1997 ...[w/] Institute for Science and International Security ...run by David Albright...
[INC phoned Hamza.] "We saw the claws of Chalabi then." "Hamza was shaken, and said he'd never do that again." [--D. Albright]
"Saddam's Bombmaker" [1999 Hamza w/] Jeff Stein...
[D. Albright:] ...many of the claims ...including ...[Hamza's] importance ..."were just ridiculous."
[D. Albright:] Francis Brooke "was involved" in promoting Hamza's book. "It was clear he had a part in it."
...[CNN asked about Chalabi's makeover] as a religious leader...
"Why is this a concern?" [--Chalabi]
...Chalabi's ...turn toward Shiite nationalism...
...[INC intel boss, Aras Habib,] long ...suspected of spying for Iran.
[Chalabi:] ...Habib had passed a  CIA polygraph test ..[re] Iran ...[no] access to U.S. classified materials.
...[2003-11 Tehran, Chalabi met w/] Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security.
[Just prior to invasion, Chalabi in US-purchased] ...gated villa in Tehran [for INC]
"There are geopolitical reasons to be friendly with Iran." "Iran has the longest border with Iraq. Also, Iran is a much stronger state than Iraq, with three times the population. So strategically it's not a good idea to be on bad terms. My good relations were not a secret from the U.S." [--Chalabi]
[Ahmad's US trouble bcuz he's] "a foreigner, and an Arab, had beaten the Administration at their own game, in their own back yard." [--Tamara Chalabi]
|Notes for "Iran's Iraq"|
|Working on a piece about Iran's influence in Iraq.|
|No DC Wasta|
Well folks, your humble narrator is having some issues here in the Capitol. Namely a profound lack of wasta- specifically DC wasta.
In my battle against the rationality of ignorance, I've taken on a project regarding the second phase of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's review of pre-war intelligence in Iraq. The first phase of the report [.pdf] has already been completed and released.
The SSCI originally had five types of things, terms of reference, that they were going to examine to make their report. The first four were:
1.the quantity and quality of U.S. intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction programs, ties to terrorist groups, Saddam Hussein’s threat to stability and security in the region, and his repression of his own people;
2.the objectivity, reasonableness, independence, and accuracy of the judgments reached by the Intelligence Community;
3.whether those judgments were properly disseminated to policy makers in the Executive Branch and Congress;
4.whether any influence was brought to bear on anyone to shape their analysis to support policy objectives.
But, the fifth one turned out to be the most interesting one:
5.other issues we mutually identify in the course of the Committee’s review.
The committee "unanimously agreed to refine the terms of reference." Everyone on the committee agreed that they needed to look into these additional areas:
B. the collection of intelligence on Iraq from the end of the Gulf War to the commencement of Operation Iraqi Freedom;
C. whether public statements and reports and testimony regarding Iraq by U.S. Government officials made between the Gulf War period and the commencement of Operation Iraqi Freedom were substantiated by intelligence information;
D. the postwar findings about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and weapons programs and links to terrorism and how they compare with prewar assessments;
E. prewar intelligence assessments about postwar Iraq;
F. any intelligence activities relating to Iraq conducted by the Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group (PCTEG) and the Office of Special Plans within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; and
G. the use by the Intelligence Community of information provided by the Iraqi National Congress (INC).
This second phase of the report was a "top priority" for both the chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee.
We had unanimous agreement in a bipartisan committee on an issue that was a top priority for both the chair and vice chair of that committee. Moreover, we had a resolute commitment from the committee chair, Senator Roberts, "I made my commitment, and it will be done."
Sounds like the kind of thing that'd definitely get done, and get done posthaste at that, don't it?
Apparently, they were just joshin us.
Here it is, a year and a half later and the "top priority" and the firm "it will be done" have decayed into something that may never come to pass. Senator Roberts acts as if he doesn't know what to do with it. "So what do you do with that?" he asks.
So, I gave a hearty "Eff you!" to Rational Ignorance, put my money where my mouth is and decided to take my battle against the rationality of ignorance on the road to DC.
After my first contacts with Senator Levin's office and Senator Rockefeller's office I decided that having an "outlet" behind me might help get me in. So I wrote to Antiwar.com's editor, Matt Bargainer, with the list of questions I had for the SSCI. I asked if I could say I was working on a piece for Antiwar. Mr. Bargainer said, "That's fine by me."
As some of you may remember, I previously was able to use Antiwar's wasta, such as it is, to get press credentials for a PMOI rally
I spoke w/ Melissa Schwartz, Senator Mikulski's press secretary. She sounded fairly positive. I sent her my original list of seventeen questions. However, the next day I received this emailed response:
Senator Mikulski cannot answer these questions in accordance with the rules of the committee.
Office of Senator Barbara Mikulski
As I didn't think that the questions called for any classified information to be exposed, I figured that the Committee had some rules I wasn't aware of.
Wed, 27 Jul 2005, I emailed Ms. Schwartz the following:
Dear Ms. Schwartz,
Are all questions about the report off-limits, or is it just particular types of questions? If it's just particular questions, what kinds of questions are off limits? I'll avoid asking anything that the Senator would have to violate rules to answer.
So far, I have not received a reply to this inquiry.
I then consulted a handful of people I thought might know. I emailed Rick Klein of the Boston Globe who had just written this timely piece Senate probe of prewar intelligence stalls. I realized that here was a pro with the wasta of the Boston Globe behind him. I figured he would be able to provide some insight. He offered these comments:
"...I don't think members are prohibited from discussing policy differences, like what's going on with an investigation. They couldn't talk about intelligence they've reviewed, but I think they could talk about whether they will review intelligence..."
Which is pretty much how I thought things were.
I emailed Laura Rozen of War and Piece.
I had contacted her previously about her research into the 2nd SSCI report re Iraq. She knows that I had moved my wife and dogs from down home to DC to deal first-hand with issues like this second SSCI report that weren't getting as much attention as I'd like.
While she didn't offer any particular insight to my question quandaries, she made some heartening comments:
"... this is fascinating, exactly what I'd like to know from the committee too. I think you are doing noble and important work."
At this stage I'll take what I can get- kind words or helpful insights. I've made up my mind to take it as a sign I'm on the right track.
I contacted an acquaintance of mine who used to be a DC correspondent. He offered practical advice on a question by question basis as well as this more general guidance:
"Going over the questions I see several that any member of the press corps wouldn't be ashamed to bring up. Again, unless the SSCI has specific rules against the disclosure of any information by members I don't see any legal reason for not answering. Bear in mind, however, that they may simply not answer because they don't have to or consider your questions a pain in the butt."
Then I went through and revamped my question list. It was harder than I expected. If, in order to help secure a response, I removed every question that could be problematic, then the interview would be much blander and much less useful than I could tolerate. I didn't move across the country to ask only namby-pamby questions. Yet, I didn't think I was likely to get any response if I left the question list intact.
After further consultation with one of this site's silent partners, I finally settled on this list of ten questions for the SSCI. As you can see, there's still at least one question that's, "Politically sensitive as hell."
Even though it goes without saying, I'd like to say that I'd be more satisfied by asking each of the Senators at least all of the original questions.
I also have a few questions for some of the individual Senators that aren't really applicable to the entire lot of them. ["Senator Roberts, how did this report's priority level come to drop so rapidly?"]
Anyway, last week right before their recess, I attempted to contact the rest of the Senators (their press secretaries anyway) with the new more Senator-friendly list of questions. This is a typical cover letter I used.
I received a brief response from Tara Adringa from Senator Levin's office and a slightly more lengthy response from Jeff Sadosky with Senator DeWine's office. While I thought I had made it clear in my interview request letter that I was working on spec for Antiwar, it turns out that I was not clear enough. Both Ms. Adringa and Mr Sadosky asked me, "Who are you with, or who do you work for, etc?"
Mikulski's Schwartz had previously asked me for some info about Antiwar. I pointed her to Antiwar's Who We Are page.
After the recess, I'll begin again with the phone calls.
Yet, I'm still faced with a profound lack of DC wasta. To get answers, (or even better yet, the second report published) there has to be sufficient pressure on the senators to respond. Reporters from major news outlets have their own pressure to bring to bear via the reach of their news outlets.
If I could somehow turn the sentiments and concerns of the majority of the US populace who think we were deliberately misled re Iraq, into pressure perhaps there'd be enough to apply to the right spots to get answers to at least my few, humble questions that it wouldn't shame the press corps to ask (or, if the stars are aligned, to get the 2nd report completed and published).
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