Liberally Conservative

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free....... ~Ronald Reagan~

Monday, August 29, 2005

Ahmed Chalabi A Force in Iraq

Robert L. Pollock writes an interesting article in today's Opinion Journal discussing Ahmed Chalabi, who was forced out of prominence by the White House, DOD and CIA including L. Paul Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority. Here are some comments from the article:
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"Very personally courageous," "not afraid to make decisions," and a "hugely important figure in Iraq" are among the phrases I heard U.S. officers apply to him during two weeks I spent in the country earlier this month. Another sums up the stakes thus: "Chalabi is there to talk about protecting strategic infrastructure so they can sell oil so they can fund their own security-force development."
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He's referring to the fact that Mr. Chalabi has assumed special responsibility for oil and infrastructure security -- a role in which he is widely recognized to be making major improvements on the abysmal performance of L. Paul Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority and Ayad Allawi's interim government. I watch him in action firsthand shortly after my arrival, chairing a meeting of the Energy Committee he helped create. He suggests that the electrical grid be mapped with GPS, since after a recent attack it took three days to locate the damage. The issue is quickly resolved, as a water ministry official informs the room that such data already exists and that the problem is merely information-sharing.
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"Chalabi has emerged as a central figure in the effort to improve infrastructure security," says Gen. David Petraeus, the overseer of Iraqi Security Force training and one of the few officials willing to risk offending the foreign policy mandarins in Washington by going on record about the matter. In particular, Mr. Chalabi is credited with obtaining additional Iraqi funding and focus on the effort, resulting in what one U.S. observer calls "the highest crude oil exports in anyone's memory."
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Keeping in mind the CIA and DOD raided Mr. Chalabi residence and attempted to disgrace him in hopes he would leave the country and not be an influence in Iraq politics. Held at gunpoint Chalabi's guards were stripped of their weapons and permits to carry them. One problem, Cahlabi stayed put and became Deputy Prime Minister in Iraq's new government.
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The Chalabi treatment has confirmed that the CIA really can be as nasty and incompetent as its critics on the left used to claim. But what explains the gross political miscalculation by the Bush administration, which knew the CIA had major problems? Part of it, surely, has to do with influence of the foreign policy "realists," who didn't really believe in the regime-change mission and blamed Mr. Chalabi for luring the U.S. into Iraq. (The idea that Mr. Chalabi did so by passing faulty intelligence has been thoroughly discredited by the bipartisan Robb-Silberman commission.) Insofar as they had to go through the motions, the realists preferred Iraqi yes-men. "Get him back in his cage," Colin Powell is reported by the Washington Post to have demanded of Mr. Wolfowitz after Mr. Chalabi began pushing for the rapid restoration of sovereignty in late 2003. "I can't control him," Mr. Wolfowitz is said to have replied.
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The question now is whether his bosses in Washington are mature enough to put aside past mistakes and work with Mr. Chalabi. They certainly no longer have to worry about him being written off as an American puppet.
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The Attic is a full supporter of the Bush administration but we cal a spade a spade. Politicians are just that, the CIA has proved inept all to many times. We find this article important enough to get a little deeper into the inter-workings of the Iraq government.

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