Democrats won big in the New Jersey and Virginia Governor’s races — and a pragmatist who happens to be Republican won big in New York City. Lots of folks don’t like Bloomberg, but in my mind, he’s an old-line Republican centrist, and we need those back in bigger numbers.
The centrist Governor in California who went astray by getting in the way of gay civil rights and cuddling up too much with fundamentalist zealots got chastened — BIG TIME — with all four of his ballot initiatives crashing and burning. Maybe Arnold will now isolate the far right.
And Ron Fournier of the Associated Press gets today’s prize for giddiest lead into an election story:
Iraq, Katrina, CIA leak, Harriet Miers. Things couldn’t possibly get any worse for President Bush.
Wait, they just did.
Bush put his wispy political prestige on the line in the Virginia governor’s race and lost Tuesday when the candidate he embraced in a last-minute campaign stop was soundly defeated. While there are many reasons for Jerry Kilgore’s defeat, chief among them his poor campaign, giddy Democrats said the Virginia race as well as a Democratic victory in New Jersey prove that Bush is a political toxin for Republicans.
BUT THAT WAS YESTERDAY. . .
I just met a room full of smart people in Prague, ages ranging from 18 to 68, and all of them think Chalabi is a huckster who deceived the White House into taking on his war. They think the White House then deceived the American public — and now wants to keep the lies going. I am impressed with level of awareness of Inside-the-Beltway scandals here in the Czech Republic.
Today, 2 p.m. — 1150 17th Street, NW. In case, the Deputy Prime Minister has been reading this blog, you might want to stop by at 1:45. Lots of folks will be there. Talk to the press. They want to talk to you.
And be sure to talk to Mr. Chalabi. If it’s pretty noisy with all the traffic and all — clear your throat, fill your lungs, and greet him loudly. Poke him with the right questions. . .and then there is that “Citizen’s Arrest” matter — discussed below (this was a fantastic idea of Josh Marshall‘s). But if anyone does try this, don’t get hurt — Chalabi is not worth it. He has burly, armed thugs — and I don’t want any of you going down on the steps of AEI, though the thought of martyrs against him gets well. . .I’m not going to go there.
In any case, don’t be rash. Be loud, peaceful, constructive, non-violent. . .if you plan to attend. The same goes for those greeting Deputy Prime Minister Chalabi on Friday afternoon at the Council on Foreign Relations.
To remind yourself of some of the outrageous schemes and lies Chalabi has hoisted on us — as well as some token commentary from people like Colin Powell about Chalabi, let me share something that the Think Progress issued (excerpts):
Remarks by Colin Powell, 12 June 2003:
I can’t substantiate [Chalabis] claims. He makes new ones every year.
A Short Rap Sheet on Ahmad Chalabi:
PENTAGON FUNDED CHALABI TO PROVIDE RATIONALE FOR WAR: The Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency paid the INC $335,000 a month in the lead-up to the Iraq war to gather intelligence. In all, the Bush White House has given the INC at least $39 million over the past 5 years.
CHALABI’S IRAQI NATIONAL CONGRESS WAS MAJOR SOURCE OF DATA FOR PENTAGON OFFICE OF SPECIAL PLANS: According to a report in the New Yorker, analysts based in the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans “relied on data gathered by other intelligence agencies and also on information provided by the Iraqi National Congress, or I.N.C., the exile group headed by Ahmad Chalabi.” “You had to treat [the I.N.C.] with suspicion,” a former Middle East station chief said of Chalabi’s people. ‘The I.N.C. has a track record of manipulating information because it has an agenda. It’s a political unit — not an intelligence agency.'”
CHALABI ATTENDED PLANNING MEETING AT THE PENTAGON JUST DAYS AFTER 9/11 ATTACKS: On September 18, 2001, Richard Perle convened a two-day meeting of the Defense Policy Board, a group that advises the Pentagon. Chalabi, who was a guest speaker at this meeting, made a presentation on the Iraqi threat.
CHALABI STOVEPIPED INTEL TO BUSH; DISSENTING CIA AND STATE ANALYSES REMAINED SECRET: According to The New Yorker, “Chalabi’s defector reports were. . .flowing from the Pentagon directly to the Vice-President’s office, and then on to the President, with little prior evaluation by intelligence professionals.” State Dept. Intelligence expert Greg Thielmann said, “There was considerable skepticism throughout the intelligence community about the reliability of Chalabi’s sources, but the defector reports were coming all the time. Knock one down and another comes along. Meanwhile, the garbage was being shoved straight to the President.” The INC also takes credit for providing raw, unsubstantiated information directly to John Hannah, then-special assistant for national security in Vice President Dick Cheney’s office.
CHALABI PROVIDED AGENT CURVEBALL TO AFFIRM SUPPOSED EXISTENCE OF SADDAM’S BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS LABS: “A U.S. official confirmed that defectors from Chalabi’s organization had provided suspect information to numerous Western intelligence agencies. ‘It’s safe to say he tried to game the system,’ the official said.” A discredited INC defector to Germany who was code-named ‘Curveball’ was the chief source of information on Iraq’s supposed fleet of mobile germ weapons factories. Curveball was the brother of a top lieutenant to Ahmed Chalabi, the group’s leader and now a member of the Iraqi Governing Council.
CHALABI PLANTED FABRICATED NEWS STORIES: Chalabi was the source for discredited news stories about Iraq and weapons of mass destruction which were penned by New York Times reporter Judith Miller. In 2001, Miller wrote a front-page story about claims that Saddam had twenty secrety WMD sites hidden in Iraq. The information turned out to be bogus. Chalabi’s group arranged Miller’s interview with the source and, according to the New Yorker, Miller’s exclusive story came just “three days after [the source] had shown deception in a polygraph test administered by the C.I.A. at the request of the Defense Intelligence Agency.”
CHALABI SHRUGS OFF MISLEADING U.S.: “Mr Chalabi, by far the most effective anti-Saddam lobbyist in Washington, shrugged off charges that he had deliberately misled US intelligence. ‘We are heroes in error,’ he told the Telegraph in Baghdad.”
CHALABI ACCUSED OF PASSING U.S. SECRETS TO IRAN: In June 2004, Chalabi came under investigation for allegations that he passed secret intelligence to Iran. Chalabi is accused of telling the Iranian government that the U.S. had broken the code it used for secret communications. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice promised Congress a full investigation into the allegations. But the Wall Street Journal reports that “there is little sign of progress in a federal investigation of allegations that he once leaked U.S. intelligence secrets to Iran.”
CHALABI ACCUSED OF ENGAGING IN COUNTERFEITING OPERATION IN POST-WAR IRAQ: The AP reported in August 2004 that Iraq had issued an arrest warrant for Ahmad Chalabi on counterfeiting charges. The warrants “accused Ahmad Chalabi of counterfeiting old Iraqi dinars — which had been removed from circulation following the fall of Saddam’s regime last year. . .Police found the counterfeit money along with old dinars in Ahmad Chalabi’s house during a May raid.” A judge later dismissed the counterfeit charges for lack of evidence.
CHALABI CONVICTED FOR EMBEZZLEMENT: Critics have questioned the credibility of Ahmad Chalabi because in 1992 he was convicted by a Jordanian court of embezzling funds from a bank where he was employed. According to the Independent, “By 1992 he [Chalabi] was convicted in absentia of embezzlement and fraud, and his sentence of 22 years hard labour stands to this day. Jordan claims the debacle cost the state $300 million.”
CHALABI CURRENTLY HEADING IRAQI OIL MINISTRY: Chalabi has maintained leadership over the oil ministry while also retaining the post of deputy prime minister in Iraq.
I and others have done quite a number of media interviews on Chalabi’s attempts to burrow back into Washington respectability — but I think that quite a bit of repellant has now been deployed.
I’ll be watching closely on-line and will be on the phone all afternoon (eastern time) with the press.
I hope that those of you who care about making sure that Chalabi has an absolutely miserable time in the nation’s capital followed by harrassment and headache in New York — and skeptical headlines wherever he goes — will be sure to greet him in the way he should be greeted today at 1150 17th Street, NW.
And those of you “in the room”, be bold — but reserved. Don’t come off as a flamer when a public policy meeting is going on. Engage Chalabi seriously.
Your questions and views are important. AEI President Chris DeMuth may try to protect Chalabi — or alternatively, Chris may be rough on him — who knows? He may let Chalabi handle his own zinger queries — but in either case, your views matter.
And your questions of Chalabi — if constructed to make him accountable — will put him on the line in front of a great number of cameras and scores of print journalists.
— Steve Clemons