Friday, October 01, 2004

Findin' an Iraqi PM Who Don't Spy for Iran Is Hard Work 

On the heels of his universally-admired performance in the debate it is perhaps bad form to wish that John Kerry had been more aggressive, but Juan Cole mentions one obvious nail that we were hoping to see the challenger pound noisily and repeatedly, preferably with a ball-peen hammer, until the sheer awful sound of it drove Mr. Bush offstage with a permanent case of the blithering jimjams:
I wonder if more could not have been made about Bush's constant zigzags on Iraq policy. First he was going to send Jay Garner. Then he suddenly switched off and sent Paul Bremer. First Bremer was going to be proconsul for years. Then he suddenly was going to hand off power to a new government elected through caucases in May 2004. Then Sistani asked for open and free elections, and they were postponed until January 2005 and power was handed to an appointed caretaker government.

Moreover, some of this zigzagging reflected very poorly on Bush's judgment. I have it from insiders that in April, 2003, Jay Garner let it slip to some of his staff that his charge was to turn Iraq over to Ahmad Chalabi within six months. The staffers were shocked and some contacted the State Department to see if this was known there. It was not. So they blew the whistle on Bush with Colin Powell. I was told that Powell then made a coalition with Tony Blair and that the two of them went to Bush and got him to change his mind.

The plan to put Chalabi in charge of Iraq was frankly idiotic. Chalabi had no grass roots. He was the one who had the bright idea to throw thousands of ex-Baathists into unemployment (which encouraged them to join the guerrilla resistance). It later came out that some of the Neoconservatives in the Pentagon had let it slip to him that the US had broken the Iranian diplomatic codes. Chalabi is chummy with Tehran and let his friends among the Ayatollahs know this tidbit. As a result, the US can no longer closely track the Iranian nuclear program.

This is the man to whom Bush-- and I underline Bush-- was planning originally just to hand Iraq over. An Iranian asset.
Two other recent items you should read while you're visiting Informed Comment:
1.) "Iraqi President Ghazi al-Yawir strongly protested US air strikes against Iraqi cities, comparing them to Israeli tactics in Gaza and branding them a form of 'collective punishment.'"

2.) "Several high-profile FBI investigations, in which substantial progress has been made, may well have been put on hold by the Bush administration for political reasons. That is, it has been alleged to me that the White House may have leaned on the FBI-- not to drop the investigations but to postpone some key arrests until after the November elections.

"The first such case is the investigation into the leaking of Valerie Plame's identity as a covert CIA agent to the press as way to undermine the credibility of her husband, Joe Wilson, who had gone public about his warnings to the administration that the story about the Iraqi purchase of uranium from Niger was bogus."

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