Chalabi Calls U.S. Mission 'A Failure'; Denies He Spied for Iran, Gave Phony Reports to U.S

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), May 24, 2004 | Go to article overview

Chalabi Calls U.S. Mission 'A Failure'; Denies He Spied for Iran, Gave Phony Reports to U.S


Byline: Guy Taylor, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Former Bush administration ally Ahmed Chalabi yesterday said although U.S. forces successfully liberated Iraq from Saddam Hussein's regime, the subsequent military occupation of the country "has been a failure."

Mr. Chalabi, whose home and offices in Baghdad were raided last week by U.S. troops and Iraqi police, said the administration has turned on him because he refuses "to have Iraq become a state of terror run by covert action agencies under diplomatic cover."

"That is the reason that all this is happening," he told ABC's "This Week." He also appeared on NBC's "Meet The Press," CNN's "Late Edition" and "Fox News Sunday."

Mr. Chalabi, whose Iraqi National Congress (INC) - a coalition of anti-Saddam political parties - was funded by the United States until recently, denied having given phony intelligence to U.S. officials on Saddam's weapons programs before the war and flatly dismissed accusations that he has worked as a spy for Iran.

"It's not true, it's a false charge, it's a smear," he told ABC, saying the accusation had been promoted by CIA Director George J. Tenet. Mr. Chalabi then appeared to challenge Mr. Tenet to a faceoff over the matter before U.S. Congress.

"Let Mr. Tenet come to Congress, and I'm prepared to come there and lay out all the facts and all the documents that we have," Mr. Chalabi said. "Let Congress decide whether this is true or whether they're being misled by George Tenet."

Further, Mr. Chalabi said he's "mystified" by accusations that agents within the INC deliberately gave U.S. officials bad information on Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, which composed the backbone of President Bush's case for invading Iraq.

Mr. Chalabi's increasingly combative stance toward the United States has been perceived by some as an effort to distance himself from the U.S. authorities in order to gain favor with Iraqis.

When "Meet The Press" host Tim Russert asked whether he will seek office in Iraq, Mr. Chalabi said, "No, I am not a candidate for any government office."

U.S. lawmakers expressed distrust toward Mr. Chalabi yesterday.

"He's very smart. He understands power politics as well as anybody in this country," Sen. Chuck Hagel, Nebraska Republican, told CNN.

"But I think what we have here is a guy who has a record. ... Trouble has followed him everywhere he's been," Mr. Hagel said. "There were a number of us who warned this administration about him - people in the State Department, others who dealt with him, King Abdullah of Jordan."

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat and a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, called Mr. Chalabi a "charlatan" and a "manipulator."

"I don't believe he's a man you can trust," she told CNN. "We made a horrendous mistake in providing him with tens of millions of dollars and enabling him to build a corps of infiltrators, allegedly to give us intelligence, which in many cases was deeply flawed."

Mr. Hagel, who also is a member of the intelligence committee and of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called the accusations that Mr. …

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