Bush administration: duped into war with Iraq?

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In light of recent revelations that Ahmed Chalabi may have been working as a spy for Iran, the question has now surfaced as to whether or not the Bush administration has been duped into war with Iraq.

In the May 25, 2004, Guardian/UK, Julian Borger writes that an "urgent investigation has been launched in Washington into whether Iran played a role in manipulating the US into the Iraq war by passing on bogus intelligence through Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress."

"Some intelligence officials," Borger writes, "now believe that Iran used the hawks in the Pentagon and the White House to get rid of a hostile neighbour, and pave the way for a Shia-ruled Iraq." [1]

Additionally, he writes, one US intelligence source reports that "the CIA has hard evidence that Mr Chalabi and his intelligence chief, Aras Karim Habib, passed US secrets to Tehran, and that Mr Habib has been a paid Iranian agent for several years, involved in passing intelligence in both directions." [2]

As a result, the "CIA has asked the FBI to investigate Mr Chalabi's contacts in the Pentagon to discover how the INC acquired sensitive information that ended up in Iranian hands." [3]

Since Chalabi and Habib were "the channels for much of the intelligence" regarding Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction "on which Washington built its case" for war in Iraq, the "implications are far-reaching," he writes. "'It's pretty clear that Iranians had us for breakfast, lunch and dinner,' said an intelligence source in Washington yesterday. 'Iranian intelligence has been manipulating the US for several years through Chalabi.'" [4]

"Larry Johnson, a former senior counter-terrorist official" at the Department of State said: "'When the story ultimately comes out we'll see that Iran has run one of the most masterful intelligence operations in history. They persuaded the US and Britain to dispose of its greatest enemy.'" [5]

Borger adds that an "intelligence source in Washington said the CIA confirmed its long-held suspicions when it discovered that a piece of information from an electronic communications intercept by the National Security Agency had ended up in Iranian hands. The information was so sensitive that its circulation had been restricted to a handful of officials." [6]

Habib, a Shia Kurd and Chalabi's "righthand man for more than a decade," is "being sought by Iraqi police since a raid on INC headquarters last week." Habib "ran a Pentagon-funded intelligence collection programme in the run-up to the invasion and put US officials in touch with Iraqi defectors who made claims about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction." [7]

However, those "claims helped make the case for war but have since proved groundless, and US intelligence agencies are now scrambling to determine whether false information was passed to the US with Iranian connivance," he writes. [8]

Borger writes that an "intelligence source in Washington said the FBI investigation into the affair would begin with Mr Chalabi's 'handlers' in the Pentagon, who include William Luti, the former head of the office of special plans, and his immediate superior, Douglas Feith, the under secretary of defence for policy. ... There is no evidence that they were the source of the leaks." [9]

"The CIA allegations bring to a head a dispute between the CIA and the Pentagon officials instrumental in promoting Mr Chalabi and his intelligence in the run-up to the war," Borger says. "By calling for an FBI counter-intelligence investigation, the CIA is, in effect, threatening to disgrace senior neo-conservatives in the Pentagon." [10]

Is Feith Chalabi's "Source"

Robert Scheer wrote in the May 25, 2004, Los Angeles Times, "We might start investigating which Bush official arranged for this hustler -- already on the lam for a decade from major banking fraud convictions in Jordan -- to sit behind First Lady Laura Bush during this year's State of the Union 2004 speech. Was the Secret Service watching her purse?

"Too harsh?," Scheer asks. "Not by a long shot. The CIA had stopped using Chalabi as a source in the mid-1990s after his political organization of exiles was accused of deception and incompetence. However, over the last four years, Chalabi was shamelessly resurrected inside the Beltway by neoconservatives, including Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith and other Bush officials who were leading the campaign to invade Iraq."

The June 1, 2004, New York Daily News reports that an "FBI investigation into who handed government secrets to disgraced Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmed Chalabi is focusing on Feith, the [June 7, 2004 (Issue)] U.S. News & World Report reveals.

"Feith and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz were Chalabi's most ardent supporters, and it was Chalabi who turned over to the U.S. the Iraqis who fed America false information about Iraq's alleged banned weapons program." [11]

Knut Royce reported in his May 24, 2004, Newsday article that "Chalabi denies passing secrets to Iran."

However, Joshua Micah Marshall comments on May 24, 2004:

"But the big story [in Royce's article] is contained in this sentence: 'An intelligence source confirmed to Newsday reports in Time and Newsweek that the FBI had launched an investigation into who in the administration had passed the classified material to his Iraqi National Congress.'
"Perhaps we'll find out that Chalabi got his classified info from some obscure analyst at DIA or a Colonel in the field. But both of those possibilities seem highly unlikely.
"Chalabi's interlocutors in the US government were a fairly small and well-known group, stacked heavily toward the top of the totem pole and very much on the appointive, civilian side -- start with the acronyms OSD and OVP. For those who know the nature of the relationship it would, quite frankly, be hard to imagine that they weren't sharing highly sensitive information with him.
"If one of those guys gets pegged for giving Chalabi info that later ended up in the hands of Iranian intelligence, everything up till now will seem like it was a breeze."

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