Iraqi politician Ahmad Chalabi accused CIA director George Tenet on Thursday of being responsible for allegations that the former exile leader passed intelligence information to Iran.
Chalabi, a former member of the Iraqi Governing Council, made the accusation after President Bush announced that Tenet was stepping down as CIA director for personal reasons.
Speaking to reporters, Chalabi lashed out at Tenet, saying the effects of his policies toward Iraq over the past years “have been not helpful to say the least.”
“He continued attempting to make a coup d’etat against Saddam in the face of all possible evidence that this would be unsuccessful,” Chalabi said. “His policies caused the death of hundreds of Iraqis in this futile efforts.”
Chalabi also accused Tenet of providing “erroneous information about weapons of mass destruction to President Bush, which caused the government much embarrassment at the United Nations and his own country.”
This little speech requires breathtaking chutzpah. Of course this Tenet Did It line isn’t original to Chalabi. Here are some Perles of Great Wisdom:
Mr. Chalabi’s allies in Washington also saw the Bush administration’s decision to sever its ties with Mr. Chalabi and his group as a cynical effort instigated by the C.I.A. and longtime Chalabi critics at the State Department. They believe those agencies want to blame him for mistaken estimates and incorrect information about Iraq before the war, like whether Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.
One of those who has defended Mr. Chalabi is Richard N. Perle, the former chairman of the Defense Policy Board. “The C.I.A. has disliked him passionately for a long time and has mounted a campaign against him with some considerable success,” Mr. Perle said Tuesday. “I’ve seen no evidence of improper behavior on his part. No evidence whatsoever.”
Mr. Perle said he thought the C.I.A. had turned against Mr. Chalabi because he refused to be the agency’s “puppet.” Mr. Chalabi “has a mind of his own,” Mr. Perle said.
Whatever you think of the Richer Perle’s insights, this Steve Gilliard analysis strikes me as sensible:
Perle is a mark. The CIA doesn’t control sigint and he knows this. DOD runs the NSA and until last month Chalabi was their boy. The evidence against him had to come from DOD, not the CIA and is vastly more credible because of it. Hell, the CIA wouldn’t even know about SIGINT issues unless NSA briefed them on it. Anything to do with codes and Chalabi went from the Army Security Agency (the army’s cryptanalysis service) straight back to NSA headquarters. The CIA may have been in the loop at some point, but this was developed inside DOD, not as some CIA smear campaign.
It isn’t clear yet whether Tenet jumped ship or walked the plank, but this finger-pointing by Chalabi and Perle is just more of the same level of neocon garbage that sufficed for “evidence” when they were making their case for the US aggression against Iraq.