Roger L. Simon

Chalibification Continues

A WSJ editorial questions this week’s accusations against controversial Iraqi politician Ahmed Chalabi:

Meanwhile, Iraq’s Central Bank Governor has said that he issued no counterfeiting complaint against Ahmed Chalabi, contrary to the claims of the accusing judge in this case. As for the murder charges the same judge has levied against Salem–a respected lawyer in charge of the tribunal prosecuting Saddam and his henchmen–even Ahmed’s enemies say they find them incredible.

Okay, what gives?

But such service apparently wasn’t enough to save Mr. Chalabi from all the enemies he made while lobbying for a war that much of the Washington establishment bitterly opposed. Sometime early this year the decision was taken at the highest levels of the Administration to stabilize Iraq by reaching out to disaffected members of Saddam’s Baath Party and to call on the United Nations for help. The Journal has been able to confirm that a document was drafted in the National Security Council outlining strategies to marginalize Mr. Chalabi, who was sure to be critical of U.S. plans, and who was then the most powerful member of the Governing Council.

One particular concern vis-a-vis the U.N. strategy was that Mr. Chalabi was starting to expose the massive corruption that had characterized the Oil for Food program. Just prior the May raid, Mr. Bremer shut down the KPMG investigation that Mr. Chalabi had initiated, and hired accountants Ernst & Young instead, for no apparent reason other than delay.

Uh-huh… Not far away… one article down in WSJ Online… Claudia Rosett writes:

And then, of course, there’s the hoard of documents allegedly held by Ahmad Chalabi, head of the Iraqi National Congress. Mr. Chalabi was one of the first to call for serious investigation of Oil-for-Food, based on what he has described as “damning documents” found in government offices in Baghdad, implicating senior officials of both the U.N. and various unnamed nations. Mr. Chalabi, according to his Washington-based adviser, Francis Brooke, recovered enough of Saddam’s paperwork last year to fill three basketball courts chest-high. Of this hoard, says Mr. Brooke, some 20,000 pages relate directly to Oil-for-Food, most of them from the files of the Finance Ministry–which was just one of the many Iraqi ministries involved in this program.

Since Mr. Chalabi first called for that investigation, the discrediting in some quarters of anything he has to say, including his charges about Oil-for-Food, has proceeded apace. In May, U.S. authorities raided his home and office. This week an Iraqi judge issued a warrant for Mr. Chalabi’s arrest, on counterfeiting charges–an intriguing allegation in an environment where a considerable number of still un-arrested people appear to have been involved for years in the embezzlement of billions of entirely genuine dollars, hand-over-iron-fist.

It’s going to take a modern Thucydides to get to the root of this, but one thing is sure — hardball is being played at a level far more interesting than anything that ever appears on Chris Matthews.