Campaign 2010

May 20, 2004

Chalabi and Rumsfeld

Rumsfeld is now saying that it is not his place to comment on Chalabi, and that it was Congress who funded the INC, so why is everybody asking him? 
I’ll tell you why. (All emphasis will be mine.)

On March 17, 2004 the Telegraph published an article based on an interview with David Kay (confirmed by Reuters), which summarized his answers thusly:

More damaging was the dependence on defectors. Different agencies all but competed with each over their intelligence without realising that much of it came from the same source, Ahmad Chalabi, the leader of the Iraqi National Congress, a former exile group that is now competing for power in Baghdad.


While the CIA was wary of Mr. Chalabi, the Pentagon’s Defence Intelligence Agency decided he was reliable.

And the DIA’s support was much more than words of encouragement, as Knight Ridder pointed out:


The CIA had stopped working with Chalabi in the mid-1990s. An audit found that the INC couldn’t account for how it had spent all of the millions of dollars provided by the U.S. government. In January 2002, the State Department suspended funding for the INC in a similar dispute over its accounting for government funds. Funding eventually was restored.


Some of the money supported the INC’s Information Collection Program, an intelligence-gathering effort that supplied information from Iraqi defectors that appeared to substantiate assessments that Saddam had illicit weapons and worked with al-Qaida.


Responsibility for the $4 million-a-year effort was transferred in late 2002 to the Defense Intelligence Agency.

“Late 2002,” huh?  That’s funny, because in early 2002 the DIA was working with a defector known as “the Major,” and according to Newsweek:


Within a few months, however, DIA had further checked out the ‘major’ and concluded that his stories and credentials were so dubious that the agency felt obliged to issue a governmentwide notice branding the defector as a ‘fabricator’ whose information should be avoided. The ‘fabricator notice,’ issued in May 2002, reported that the defector had apparently been ‘coached by the Iraqi National Congress’ on what to tell U.S. interrogators, according to a source who read the document, which remains classified.

So the bureaucracy of the DIA, Rumsfeld’s own intelligence agency, identified the INC as having “coached defectors” months before they picked up his funding (and months before the October, 2002 NIE), and yet it was the DIA that persistently pushed their intelligence against the will of the CIA.  Furthermore, the Pentagon continued to support Chalabi even after Kay pegged him as the cause of the intelligence failure, and even after a poll conducted amongst Iraqis found that he was less trusted than Saddam Hussein.

Yes, Mr. Rumsfeld, you have some questions to answer.

Sign the petition.

Update: Atrios has a visual aid, Josh Marshall has a question, Kevin Drum is taking bets, and Angry Bear saw a timely interview.

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