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Profile: Ahmed Chalabi

 
  

Positions that Ahmed Chalabi has held:

  • President of the Iraqi National Congress


 

Quotes

 
  

Quote, September 2002

   “American companies will have a big shot at Iraqi oil.” [Washington Post, 9/15/02]

Associated Events

Undefined, April 13, 2003

   “After (Gen. Jay Garner) finishes his job of restoring basic services, the interim Iraqi authority will be established. And that interim authority will be an authority of Iraqis, chosen by Iraqis. And it will be able to function as an authority in the country immediately after Gen. Garner's job is finished, which should be only a few weeks.” [US Department of Defense, 4/13/2003]

Associated Events

Undefined, (Late May 2003)

   Ahmad Chalabi, head of the Iraqi National Congress“They told us, ‘Liberation now,’ and then they made it occupation. Bush said he was a liberator, not an occupier, and we supported the United States on this basis.” [Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/29/2003]

Associated Events

Quote, February 18, 2004

   “As far as we're concerned we've been entirely successful. That tyrant Saddam is gone and the Americans are in Baghdad. What was said before is not important. The Bush administration is looking for a scapegoat. We're ready to fall on our swords if he wants.” [Telegraph, 2/19/04]

Associated Events


 

Relations

 
  

Related Entities:


 

Ahmed Chalabi actively participated in the following events:

 
  

October 30, 1944      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Ahmed Chalabi is born into a wealthy, oligarchic Shiite family with close ties to Iraq's Hashemite monarchy. [CounterPunch, 5/20/2004; American Prospect, 11/18/2002; New Yorker, 6/7/2004] Ahmed's mother runs political salons catering to Iraq's elite and his father loans money to members of the ruling family who reward him with top posts in the government, which he uses to advance his business interests. Ahmed's grandfather was also close to the monarchy, holding nine cabinet positions in government during his lifetime. [New Yorker, 6/7/2004; American Prospect, 11/18/2002] But it was Ahmed Chalabi's great grandfather who, as the tax farmer of Kadimiah, a town near Baghdad, established the family's grand fortunes. According to Iraqi historian Hanna Batatu, Ahmed's great grandfather was “a very harsh man, [who] kept a bodyguard of armed slaves and had a special prison at his disposal” where, according to a friend of Ahmed Chalabi, he imprisoned serfs who failed to pay their taxes or produce wheat. “When he died the people of Kadimiah heaved a sigh of relief,” Batatu writes. [New Yorker, 6/7/2004; Batatu, 2004 cited in CounterPunch, 5/20/2004]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Chalabi
          

1958      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       After the 1958 coup that deposes King Faisal II of Iraq, Ahmed Chalabi, 13, and his family flee to Lebanon because of their close ties to the Iraqi Hashemite monarchy (see October 30, 1944). The young Ahmed then goes to England where he attends boarding school. [CounterPunch, 5/20/2004; American Prospect, 11/18/2002; New Yorker, 6/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Chalabi
          

1960s      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Ahmed Chalabi, an Iraqi exile, studies for his doctorate in math at the University of Chicago where he gets to know Albert Wohlstetter, a prominent cold-war strategist and a mentor for Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle. After receiving his degree, Chalabi moves to Lebanon where he works as a math teacher at the American University of Beirut. His brother, Jawad, is also living in Beirut and runs Middle East Banking Corp. (Mebco). [Salon, 5/5/2004; Christian Science Monitor, 6/15/2004; American Prospect, 11/18/2002; New Yorker, 6/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Chalabi, Albert Wohlstetter, Jawad Chalabi
          

1977      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Ahmed Chalabi moves to Jordan where he founds Petra Bank. His partners include wealthy families from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. [Guardian, 4/142003; Salon, 5/4/2004; Christian Science Monitor, 6/15/2004]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Chalabi, Petra Bank
          

1979-1989      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Two years after its founding, Petra Bank, run by Ahmed Chalabi, is the second largest bank in Jordan. The bank's success is attributed to the Chalabi family's vast network of international connections which has enabled Petra to move money in and out of Jordan several steps ahead of the Jordon's strict exchange controls. “They were far more efficient than the other banks,” a Jordanian businessman tells Salon. Chalabi's bank lends money to several influential figures, including Prince Hasan, now a close acquaintance of Chalabi, to whom the bank lends $30 million. Chalabi's friendship with Hassan enables Petra to open a chain of branches in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. [Christian Science Monitor, 6/15/2004; New Yorker, 6/7/2004; Salon, 5/4/2004; Guardian, 4/142003] During this period, Petra bank even does business with Saddam Hussein, helping the dictator finance Iraqi trade with Jordan. [Salon, 5/5/2004]
People and organizations involved: Hasan bin Talal, Petra Bank, Ahmed Chalabi
          

1985      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Albert Wohlstetter introduces Ahmed Chalabi to Richard Perle, undersecretary of defense for international-security policy. [American Prospect, 11/18/2002]
People and organizations involved: Albert Wohlstetter, Richard Perle, Ahmed Chalabi
          

After 1989      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Jordanian investigators spend 45 days in the US looking for hidden assets belonging to a Washington, D.C. subsidiary of Petra Bank, a Chalabi-controlled enterprise that collapsed in 1989 (see August 2, 1989). Nearly all of the US assets listed in Petra Bank's books turn out to be worthless, with the notable exception of an auxiliary office where valuable bank records are presumably kept. The “office” is a country estate with a swimming pool in upscale Middleburg, Virginia. It belongs to the Chalabi family, which had been charging the bank a monthly rent. “There was not one business record in the whole place,” an official will later recall. [New Yorker, 6/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Chalabi, Petra Bank
          

August 2, 1989      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Mohammed Said Nabulsi, Jordan's central bank governor, orders the country's banks to deposit 30 percent of their foreign exchange holdings with the central bank. The measure is part of an effort to enforce regulations on liquidity ratios and reduce the outflow of foreign exchange from Jordan. Petra, run by Ahmed Chalabi, is the only bank among the 20 that is unable to comply with the order. At the urging of Nabulsi, King Hussein puts Petra under government supervision and orders an audit of the bank's books. Petra's board of directors are replaced and an investigation begins. Two weeks later, in August 1989, Chalabi flees the country—reportedly with $70 million. According to Hudson Institute's Max Singer, Prince Hassan personally drives Chalabi to the Jordanian border, helping him escape. The investigation subsequently uncovers evidence of massive fraud. “The scale of fraud at Petra Bank was enormous,” Nabulsi will later recall. “It was like a tiny Enron.” Arthur Andersen determines that the bank's assets are overstated by $200 million. The bank is found to have enormous bad debts (about $80 million); “unsupported foreign currency balances at counter-party banks” (about $20 million); and money purportedly owed to the bank which could not be found (about $60 million). Millions of dollars of depositors' money had been routed to the Chalabi family empire in Switzerland, Lebanon, and London, in the form of loans that had not been repaid. The Chalabi family's Swiss and Lebanese firms, Mebco and Socofi, are later put into liquidation. As a result of the fraud, the Jordanian government is forced to pay $200 million to depositors whose money had disappeared, and to avert a potential collapse of the country's entire banking system. [CounterPunch, 5/20/2004; Guardian, 4/142003; American Prospect, 11/18/2002; New Yorker, 6/7/2004; Christian Science Monitor, 6/15/2004; Salon, 5/4/2004] Chalabi later provides a different account of what happened. According to Zaab Sethna, a spokesman for the Iraqi National Congress, King Hussein of Jordan turned on Chalabi in coordination with Iraq because Chalabi was “using the bank to fund [Iraqi] opposition groups and learning a lot about illegal arms transfers to Saddam.” Petra Bank was also providing the CIA with information on the Jordanian-Iraqi trade. [American Prospect, 11/18/2002; New Yorker, 6/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Chalabi, Middle East Banking Corp., Petra Bank, Hussein bin Talal, Mohammed Said Nabulsi, Arthur Andersen
          

June 10, 1990      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       A 500-page report completed on behalf of the Jordanian military attorney-general charges that Ahmed Chalabi was directly responsible for the collapse of Petra Bank (see August 2, 1989). It accuses him of making “fictitious deposits and entries to make the income ... appear larger; losses on shares and investments; [and] bad debts ... to Abhara company and Al Rimal company.” The technical report contains 106 chapters, each of which addresses a different irregularity. Most of them are attributed to Chalabi. [Guardian, 4/142003]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Chalabi, Petra Bank
          

After May 1991      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       CIA Agent Whitley Bruner contacts Ahmed Chalabi in London as part of an effort to organize Iraqi exiles into a unified opposition movement against Saddam Hussein (see May 1991). [New Yorker, 6/7/2004; Newsweek, 4/5/2004]
People and organizations involved: Whitley Bruner, Ahmed Chalabi
          

April 9, 1992      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       After a two-year investigation, Ahmed Chalabi is convicted in abstentia and sentenced by a military court to 22 years of hard labor and ordered to return $230 million in embezzled funds. The 223-page verdict charges Chalabi with 31 counts of embezzlement, theft, forgery, currency speculation, making false statements, and making millions of dollars in bad loans to himself, to his friends, and to his family's other financial enterprises in Lebanon and Switzerland (see June 1992). [Guardian, 4/142003; Salon, 5/4/2004; Newsweek, 4/5/2004; Christian Science Monitor, 6/15/2004; New Yorker, 6/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Chalabi
          

October 1992      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Prominent Shiite Iraqi opposition groups join the Iraqi National Congress, a creation of the CIA (see June 1992), and hold a meeting in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq where they select a three-man leadership council and a 26-member executive council. The three leaders include moderate Shiite Muslim cleric Muhammad Bahr al-Ulum; ex-Iraqi general Hasan Naqib; and Masud Barzani. Ahmed Chalabi, who is reportedly not at all popular among the exiles present, is somehow selected to chair the executive council. This event represents the first major attempt to bring together the many different groups in Iraq opposed to Saddam Hussein. [New Yorker, 6/7/2004; Federation of American Scientists, 8/8/1998]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Chalabi, Hasan Naqib, Muhammad Bahr al-Ulum, Kurdistan Democratic Party, Iraqi National Congress, Masud Barzani
          

(1994)      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The Iraqi National Congress sets up “a forgery shop” inside an abandoned schoolhouse in the Kurdish town of Salahuddin. “It was something like a spy novel,” CIA agent Robert Baer later recalls. “It was a room where people were scanning Iraqi intelligence documents into computers, and doing disinformation. There was a whole wing of it that he did forgeries in. ... He was forging back then, in order to bring down Saddam.” One of the documents fabricated by the INC is a copy of a purported letter to Chalabi from President Clinton's National Security Council. The letter requests Chalabi's help in a plot to assassinate Saddam Hussein. Baer believes Chalabi's intent is to trick the Iranians into believing that the Americans will kill Hussein, thus inspiring them into joining a plot against the dictator. According to Francis Brooke, a Rendon Group employee working with the INC, Chalabi did not create the forged letter. “That would be illegal,” he says. [New Yorker, 6/7/2004 Sources: Robert Baer]
People and organizations involved: Rendon Group, Ahmed Chalabi, Iraqi National Congress, Francis Brooke
          

March 1995      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Ahmed Chalabi creates a militia army of about 1,000 fighters in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq and bribes tribal leaders in the city of Mosul to support a planned rebellion against Saddam Hussein. He is also hosting members of Iranian intelligence who promise that when the operation is launched, Iran will simultaneously hit Iraq from the south. But the CIA learns that Baathist officials have caught wind of the plot and the CIA instructs agent Robert Baer to tell Chalabi that “any decision to proceed will be on your own.” Chalabi, who has no military experience, decides to go through with the plot anyways. But the operation quickly flounders when many of Chalabi's fighters desert, the bribed Iraqi tribal leaders stay home, and the Iranians do nothing. The CIA is furious that it funded the operation, which becomes known within the agency as the “Bay of Goats.” [New Yorker, 6/7/2004; CounterPunch, 5/20/2004]
People and organizations involved: Francis Brooke, Rendon Group, Iraqi National Congress, Ahmed Chalabi, Central Intelligence Agency, Saddam Hussein, Robert Baer
          

After 1996      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       After the failed coup attempt in Iraq (see March 1995), Ahmed Chalabi comes to Washington to lobby the US government to pursue a policy of regime change. Chalabi sets up shop in a million-dollar brick row house in Georgetown, owned by Levantine Holdings, a Chalabi family corporation based in Luxembourg. The house will serve as both the Iraqi National Congress' Washington headquarters and as Chalabi's home. Francis Brooke, Chalabi's aide, and Brooke's family will live in the house for free. [New Yorker, 6/7/2004; Washington Post, 11/24/2003, pp C01] Brooke is reportedly a devout Christian who, the New Yorker reports, “has brought an evangelical ardor to the cause of defeating Saddam.” Brooke tells the magazine: “I do have a religious motivation for doing what I do. I see Iraq as our neighbor. And the Bible says, when your neighbor is in a ditch, God means for you to help him.” [New Yorker, 6/7/2004] Brooke believes that Saddam Hussein is of such an evil nature, that even the most extreme measures would be justified to remove him. Charles Glass of Harper's will report that Brooke “says he would support the elimination of Saddam, even if every single Iraqi were killed in the process. He means it. ‘I'm coming from a place different from you.... I believe in good and evil. That man is absolute evil and must be destroyed.’ ... He says he believes in Jesus and in resurrection and in eternity. If all the Iraqis die, he says, they will live in eternity. But the ‘human Satan’ must go, no matter what.” [CounterPunch, 5/20/2004] As part of their lobbying strategy, Chalabi and Brookes examine the successes of various American Jewish lobby groups. “We knew we had to create a domestic constituency with some electoral clout, so we decided to use the AIPAC [American Israel Political Action Committee] model,” Brooke later the New Yorker. [New Yorker, 6/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Chalabi, Iraqi National Congress, Francis Brooke
          

August 1996      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       One of the Kurdish groups within the Iraqi National Congress (INC) invites Iraqi forces into Kurdistan to crush a rival faction allied with Chalabi. Saddam Hussein sends 40,000 Iraqi soldiers and 300 tanks into the Kurdish city of Irbil. Saddam's forces capture, torture, and kill hundreds of Chalabi's followers and some INC officials. At this time, Chalabi is in London. The Clinton administration eventually evacuates 7,000 supporters. [Guardian, 2/22/2002; American Prospect, 11/18/2002; New Yorker, 6/7/2004] A few years later, Chalabi and his aide, Francis Brooke, will help ABC News produce a documentary that puts the blame on the CIA.
People and organizations involved: Iraqi National Congress, Central Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Chalabi
          

(1997-1998)      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       According to Middle East expert Judith Kipper, around this time, Ahmed Chalabi makes “a deliberate decision to turn to the right,” having realized that conservatives are more likely than liberals to support his plan to use force to topple Saddam Hussein's government. Chalabi's aide, Francis Brooke, later explains to the New Yorker: “We thought very carefully about this, and realized there were only a couple of hundred people” in Washington capable of influencing US policy toward Iraq. He also attends social functions with Richard Perle, whom he met in 1985 (see 1985) and who is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and Dick Cheney, the CEO of Halliburton. According to Brooke, “from the beginning, Cheney was in philosophical agreement with this plan. Cheney has said, ‘Very seldom in life do you get a chance to fix something that went wrong.’ ” Paul Wolfowitz is said to be enamored with Chalabi. According to an American friend of Chalabi, “Chalabi really charmed him. He told me they are both intellectuals. Paul is a bit of a dreamer.” [New Yorker, 6/7/2004] He also becomes friends with L. Marc Zell and Douglas Feith of the Washington-Tel Aviv law, Feith and Zell. [Salon, 5/5/2004] Chalabi tells his neoconservatives friends that if he replaces Saddam Hussein as Iraq's leader, he would establish normal diplomatic and trade ties with Israel, eschew pan-Arab nationalism, and allow the construction of a pipeline from Mosul to the Israeli port of Haifa, Zell later tells Salon magazine. Having a pro-Israeli regime in Iraq would “take[] off the board” one of the only remaining major Arab threats to Israeli security, a senior administration official says in 2003. It would do this “without the need for an accommodation with either the Palestinians or the existing Arab states,” notes Salon. [Salon, 5/5/2004; Knight Ridder, 7/12/2003 Sources: L. Marc Zell] But Chalabi has a different story for his Arab friends. He tells his friend, Moh'd Asad, the managing director of the Amman, Jordan-based International Investment Arabian Group, “that he just need[s] the Jews in order to get what he want[s] from Washington, and that he [will] turn on them after that.” [Salon, 5/5/2004] Chalabi also says that the Iraqis would welcome a US liberation force with open arms. [Christian Science Monitor, 6/15/2004]
People and organizations involved: Saddam Hussein, Moh'd Asad, Douglas Feith, L. Marc Zell, Ahmed Chalabi, Francis Brooke, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Richard ("Dick") Cheney
          

December 1997      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter meets with Ahmed Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress. According to Ritter, Chalabi tells him that he has close contacts with Iranian Intelligence and offers to set up a meeting between Ritter and the head of Iranian intelligence. (Chalabi later claims this is “an absolute falsehood.”) [CounterPunch, 5/20/2004]
People and organizations involved: Scott Ritter, Ahmed Chalabi
          

1998      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Ahmed Chalabi suggests in an interview with the Jerusalem Post that if the INC is successful in its efforts to topple Saddam Hussein's government, the new government will restore the oil pipeline from Kirkuk, Iraq to Haifa, Israel. The pipeline has been inoperative since the state of Israel was established in 1948. [New Yorker, 6/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Chalabi, Iraqi National Congress
          

January 27, 1998      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Ahmed Chalabi meets Scott Ritter, a liaison for the UN weapons inspectors program, in his London apartment. When Chalabi asks Ritter what kind of information inspectors need, Ritter discloses all of inspectors' intelligence gaps. “I should have asked him what he could give me,” Ritter later tells the New Yorker. “We made the biggest mistake in the intelligence business: we identified all of our gaps.” The New Yorker reports: “Ritter outlines most of the UN inspectors' capabilities and theories, telling Chalabi how they had searched for underground bunkers with ground-penetrating radar. He also told Chalabi of his suspicion that Saddam may have had mobile chemical- or biological-weapons laboratories. ... ” [New Yorker, 6/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Scott Ritter, Ahmed Chalabi
          

(July 1998)      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Scott Ritter has a second meeting with Ahmed Chalabi (see January 27, 1998), this time at Chalabi's house in Georgetown. Inspectors have recently discovered trace evidence of VX nerve gas on warheads in Iraq and Ritter is concerned that the Iraqis are still hiding something. During the meeting, they discuss the VX discovery and Chalabi suggests that Ritter do intelligence work for the INC. He shows Ritter two studies advocating Hussein's overthrow. One of the studies is a military plan, written, in part, by retired General Wayne Downing, who commanded the Special Forces in the first Gulf War. Downing's study suggests that the Baathist regime could easily be toppled by Iraqi fighters alone. But the plan would nonetheless require some American troop support. Chalabi wants to sell the plan to Congress. Ritter, a former marine, isn't impressed and tells Chalabi he thinks it's a ploy to get the US involved. He asks Chalabi, “So how come the fact that you'd need more American assistance is not in the plan?” Chalabi replies, “Because it's too sensitive.” Chalabi then shares with Ritter his plans to rule Iraq. Ritter later tells the New Yorker: “He told me that, if I played ball, when he became president he'd control all of the oil concessions, and he'd make sure I was well taken care of. I guess it was supposed to be a sweetener.” (Chalabi's office will tell the New Yorker that Ritter is a “liar.”) [New Yorker, 6/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Scott Ritter, Ahmed Chalabi
          

October 31, 1998      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       President Clinton Signs the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 into law. The act, which passed with overwhelming support from Democrats and Republicans in both the House and Senate, was written by Trent Lott and other Republicans with significant input from Ahmed Chalabi and his aide, Francis Brooke. The act makes it “the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime.” To that end, the act requires that the president designate one or more Iraqi opposition groups to receive up to $97 million in US military equipment and nonlethal training. The act authorizes another $43 million for humanitarian, broadcasting, and information-collection activities. To be eligible for US assistance, an organization must be “committed to democratic values, to respect for human rights, to peaceful relations with Iraq's neighbors, to maintaining Iraq's territorial integrity, and to fostering cooperation among democratic opponents of the Saddam Hussein regime.” [New Yorker, 6/7/2004; Washington Post, 1/25/2002 Sources: Iraq Liberation Act of 1998]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Chalabi, Francis Brooke, Trent Lott, William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton
          

Late 1990s      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       An associate of Ahmed Chalabi later tells journalist Andrew Cockburn that in the late '90s, “Ahmed opened an INC office in Tehran, spending the Americans' money, and he joked to me that ‘the Americans are breaching their embargo on Iran.’ ” [CounterPunch, 5/20/2004]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Chalabi
          

September 19, 2001-September 20, 2001: Defense Policy Board Meets and Discusses Iraq      Complete 911 Timeline, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The Defense Policy Board (DPB) meets in secrecy in Rumsfeld's Pentagon conference room on September 19 and 20 for nineteen hours to discuss the option of taking military action against Iraq. [New York Times, 10/12/01] They also discuss how they might overcome some of the diplomatic and political pressures that would likely attempt to impede a policy of regime change in Iraq. [New York Times, 10/12/01] Among those attending the meeting are the 18 members of the Defense Policy Board, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, Bernard Lewis, Ahmed Chalabi, and Chalabi's aide Francis Brooke. [New Yorker, 6/7/2004; Vanity Fair, 5/04, pp 236; New York Times, 10/12/01] Secretary of State Colin Powell and other State Department officials in charge of US policy toward Iraq are not invited and are not informed of the meeting. A source will later tell the New York Times that Powell was irritated about not being briefed on the meeting. [New York Times, 10/12/01] During the seminar, two of Richard Perle's invited guests, Princeton professor Bernard Lewis and Ahmed Chalabi, the president of the Iraqi National Congress, are given the opportunity to speak. Lewis says that the US must encourage democratic reformers in the Middle East, “such as my friend here, Ahmed Chalabi.” Chalabi argues that Iraq is a breeding ground for terrorists and asserts that Saddam's regime has weapons of mass destruction. [Vanity Fair, 5/04, pp 232] He also asserts “there'd be no resistance, no guerrilla warfare from the Baathists, and [it would be] a quick matter of establishing a government.” [New Yorker, 6/7/2004] Attendees write a letter to President Bush calling for the removal of Saddam Hussein. “[E]ven if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. Failure to undertake such an effort will constitute an early and perhaps decisive surrender in the war on international terrorism,” the letter reads. The letter is published in the Washington Times on September 20 (see September 20, 2001) in the name of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), a conservative think tank that believes the US needs to shoulder the responsibility for maintaining “peace” and “security” in the world by strengthening its global hegemony. [Project for a New American Century, 9/20/01; Manila Times, 7/19/03] Bush reportedly rejects the letter's proposal, as both Cheney and Powell agree that there is no evidence implicating Saddam Hussein in the attacks. [New York Times, 10/12/01 Sources: Unnamed senior administration officials and defense experts]
People and organizations involved: Henry A. Kissinger, James Woolsey, Adm. David E. Jeremiah, Ahmed Chalabi, Bernard Lewis, James R. Schlesinger, Dan Quayle, Harold Brown, Newt Gingrich, A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm, Defense Policy Board, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, Francis Brooke
          

December 20, 2001      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Zaab Sethna of the Iraqi National Congress (INC) arranges Iraqi defector Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri to be interviewed by Judith Miller of the New York Times. Miller, who has known Chalabi for about eight years (see May 1, 2003), immediately flies out to Bangkok for the interview. Her story is published on December 20, just three days after Haideri told his story to a CIA agent who subjected him to a polygraph and determined Haideri's story was a complete fabrication (see December 17, 2001). Miller's front-page article, titled “An Iraqi defector tells of work on at least 20 hidden weapons sites,” reports: “An Iraqi defector who described himself as a civil engineer, said he personally worked on renovations of secret facilities for biological, chemical and nuclear weapons in underground wells, private villas and under the Saddam Hussein Hospital in Baghdad as recently as a year ago.” If verified, Miller notes, “his allegations would provide ammunition to officials within the Bush administration who have been arguing that Mr. Hussein should be driven from power partly because of his unwillingness to stop making weapons of mass destruction, despite his pledges to do so.” Sethna also contacts freelance journalist Paul Moran. Moran is a former employee of the INC and has been employed for years by the Rendon Group, a firm specializing in “perception management.” Moran's on-camera interview with Haideri is broadcasted worldwide by the Australian Broadcasting Corp. [Rolling Stone, 11/17/2005; New York Times, 12/20/01; New York Review of Books 2/26/04; SBS Dateline, 7/23/2003]
People and organizations involved: Zaab Sethna, Ahmed Chalabi, Judith Miller, Paul Moran, Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri
          

February 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       In an interview with the Guardian of London, Ahmed Chalabi describes his plan to overthrow the Iraqi government. “The United States will help us to train and equip light anti-tank battalions, well-trained, and highly mobile. Those people, once on the ground, will be able to defeat Saddam's forces.” Just 11 weeks of training would be adequate to train the Iraqi National Congress' forces to defeat Iraq's army of 400,000, he insists. “Chalabi gave a theoretical example: a rebel incursion across the Kuwaiti border to capture a frontier town. The rebel force would be protected from counter-attack by US air power, and within days the key southern city of Basra would fall as its garrison mutinied.” According to Chalabi, Saddam would quickly lose his grip on the country. “Once that happens, our problem will not be finding people—our problem will be absorbing people,” Chalabi claims. [New Yorker, 6/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Chalabi
          

Summer 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Ahmed Chalabi, the leader of the Iraqi National Congress, says that “informants within the Iraqi intelligence community,” have revealed “that Hussein's VX stockpile is far larger than the 3.9 tons Iraq reported—something UNSCOM inspectors have long suspected,” reports The Washington Post. “Chalabi also says that the VX had been converted into a dry salt for long term storage and was positioned in various sites across Iraq for use in the event of a foreign attack. UNSCOM officials said the account seemed credible, given what was learned about Iraq's VX program in the final months of weapons inspections.” [Washington Post, 7/31/02]
People and organizations involved: Iraqi National Congress, Ahmed Chalabi
          

Fall 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The Bush White House establishes a “high-level, interagency task force” charged with the task of “coordinating all Iraq war planning efforts and postwar initiatives.” The task force is headed by the Deputies Committee, which is made up of the “No. 2 officials at the Pentagon, Joint Chiefs of Staff, State Department, CIA, National Security Council, and vice president's office.” The committee's job is to review the work of other groups who have been involved in the planning of post-war Iraq, and provide recommendations to Bush's top advisors. The committee presumably draws on the work of the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans (OSP) (see 2002-2003) (see September 2002), Elliot Abrams' group (see November 2002-December 2002) (see December 2002) and the State Department's “Future of Iraq” project (see April 2002-March 2003). Later accounts make clear that Abrams' and the OSP's recommendations have much more influence. The Deputies Committee usually meets in the White House situation room. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice keeps President Bush updated on the progress of the task force's work. In November, US News reports that a consensus is forming “at the highest levels of the Bush administration over how to run the country after Saddam and his regime are history.” [Financial Times, 11/4/02; US News, 11/25/03; Reuters, 11/25/03 Sources: Unnamed US government officials]
Some Conclusions of the Deputies Committee, as reported by US News and World Report -
The US should not create a provisional government or a government in exile. “We are not going to be in the business of choosing” who should lead Iraq, a senior official tells US News and World Report. [US News 11/25/03 Sources: Unnamed senior official]
The invasion of Iraq will likely be followed by a lengthy occupation. This conclusion is passed on to Bush. “I have been with the president when he has been briefed about the need to have US forces there for an extended period of time,” a senior administration official will later tell US News and World Report. [US News 11/25/03 Sources: Unnamed senior administration official]
During the first phase of the occupation, Iraq will be ruled by the military, probably a US general. The primary objective during this phase will be maintaining security and preventing the emergence of hostilities between the Shiites and Sunnis. Pentagon officials involved in planning this stage are reported to have reviewed the archived plans for the occupation of Germany and Japan. The second phase of the occupation will involve some sort of international civilian administration, with a diminished US military presence, and Iraqis will be given a larger role in the government. In the last phase, a constitution will be drafted, transferring power to a representative, multiethnic Iraqi government that commits to being free of weapons of mass destruction. [US News 11/25/03]
Revenue generated from the sale of Iraq's oil will be used for the cost of reconstruction and for conducting humanitarian operations. Hardliners however want the funds to pay for the military costs of the invasion as well. [US News 11/25/03]
No firm decisions are made about the what role, if any, Iraqi exiles affiliated with the Iraqi National Congress (INC) will play in post-Saddam Iraq. Pentagon hardliners and some top officials in the White House favor giving them a prominent role, while the CIA and State Department adamantly oppose their inclusion, arguing that the exiles cannot be trusted. [US News 11/25/03]
Iraqis will not necessarily treat the invading American soldiers as “liberators.” Many Iraqis harbor a deep resentment against the US for the decades-long sanction policy. [US News, 11/25/03]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Chalabi, Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush
          

October 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Ahmed Chalabi, leader of the London-based Iraqi National Congress (INC) meets with the executives of “three US oil multinationals to negotiate the carve-up of Iraq's massive oil reserves post-Saddam.” Also in attendance are “leading oilmen, exiled Iraqis, and lawyers.” The meeting, titled “Invading Iraq: dangers and opportunities for the energy sector,” meets “behind the closed doors of the Royal Institute of International Affairs” in London. Several weeks after the meeting one delegate will tell the Guardian that the whole day could have been summarized with: “Who gets the oil?” The meeting is confirmed by INC spokesman Zaab Sethna. [Observer, 11/3/02; Guardian, 11/22/02]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Chalabi
          

December 20-21, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The Oil and Energy Working Group, one of 17 such groups working under the US State Department's “Future of Iraq” project (see April 2002-March 2003), meets to discuss plans for the oil industry in a post-Saddam Iraq. People who are likely members of this group include Ahmed Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress, Sharif Ali Bin al Hussein of the Iraqi National Congress; recently defected personnel from Iraq's Ministry of Petroleum; the former Iraqi head of military intelligence; Sheikh Yamani, the former Oil Minister of Saudi Arabia; and unnamed representatives from the US Energy Department. The responsibilities of this working group include: (1) developing plans for restoring the petroleum sector in order to increase oil exports to partially pay for a possible US military occupation government. (2) reconsidering Iraq's continued membership in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and “whether it should be allowed to produce as much as possible or be limited by an OPEC quota.” (3) “consider[ing] whether to honor contracts made between the Hussein government and foreign oil companies, including the US $3.5 billion project to be carried out by Russian interests to redevelop Iraq's oilfields.” [US Department of State, 12/19/02; Observer, 11/3/02; Oil and Gas International, 10/30/02]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Chalabi, Sheikh Yamani
          

Early 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The US Defense Intelligence Agency [DIA] concludes early in 2003 that the intelligence being provided by dissidents supplied by the Iraqi National Congress is of little value. The New York Times reports that an internal DIA study has found that “dissidents invented or exaggerated their credentials as people with direct knowledge of the Iraqi government and its suspected unconventional weapons program.” [New York Times, 9/29/03; Independent, 9/30/03 Sources: Unnamed US officials] Unnamed officials interviewed by the Times say the defectors have been considered by the Defense Intelligence Agency to be dubious sources from the start. It is believed that the dissidents' motivation for talking has been money and their opposition to Saddam Hussein. The Times' sources say “they would not speculate on whether the defectors had knowingly provided false information and, if so, what their motivation might have been.” [New York Times, 9/29/03; Independent, 9/30/03 Sources: Unnamed US officials] The document reveals that more than $1 million was paid to Chalabi's group for information about Saddam Hussein's alleged banned weapons programs. [Independent, 9/30/03; New York Times, 9/29/03 Sources: Unnamed US officials]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Chalabi, Iraqi National Congress
          

April 13, 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Appearing on NBC's “Meet the Press,” Ahmed Chalabi, head of the Iraqi National Congress, says: “After (Gen. Jay Garner) finishes his job of restoring basic services, the interim Iraqi authority will be established. And that interim authority will be an authority of Iraqis, chosen by Iraqis. And it will be able to function as an authority in the country immediately after Gen. Garner's job is finished, which should be only a few weeks.” [US Department of Defense, 4/13/03]
People and organizations involved: Jay Garner, Ahmed Chalabi
          

(Late May 2003)      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Ahmed Chalabi, head of the Iraqi National Congress, complains about the US occupation of Iraq that he played a pivotal role in bringing about. “They told us, ‘Liberation now,’ and then they made it occupation,” he says. “Bush said he was a liberator, not an occupier, and we supported the United States on this basis.” [Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/29/03]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Chalabi
          

2004      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Journalist Andrew Cockburn asks an investigator who spent several years looking into the collapse of Ahmed Chalabi's Petra Bank if the US government has ever questioned him about the scandal. “No, not once,” he replies, adding that journalists have also avoided reporting about Chalabi's involvement in Petra Bank. [CounterPunch, 5/20/2004]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Chalabi, Petra Bank
          

February 18, 2004      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Ahmed Chalabi, president of the Iraqi National Congress (INC), tells the London Telegraph during an interview in Baghdad that he has no regrets that the intelligence he fed to the US turned out to be wrong. Though his group has been accused of intentionally providing misleading information to US intelligence through the Pentagon offices under Douglas Feith, he believes its members should be regarded as “heroes in error.” “As far as we're concerned we've been entirely successful,” he contends. “That tyrant Saddam is gone and the Americans are in Baghdad. What was said before is not important. The Bush administration is looking for a scapegoat. We're ready to fall on our swords if he wants.” One of the most significant claims Colin Powell had made to the UN Security Council on February 5, 2003 had been supplied by a source supplied by the INC. In that case, a defected Iraqi major had claimed that Iraq possessed mobile bilogical weapons labs. [Telegraph, 2/19/04]
People and organizations involved: Iraqi National Congress, Ahmed Chalabi
          

April 2004      US confrontation with Iran

       Ahmed Chalabi, a member of Iraq's governing council, meets with the Baghdad station chief for Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security and informs him that the US has broken the code used to encrypt Iran's intelligence communications. Chalabi says that he learned about the code-break from a drunk American official. A frantic exchange of communications takes place between the Iranian agent and Tehran concerning Chalabi's claim. The US intercepts and decodes all of them, revealing Chalabi's role. When the story is broken in the press, Chalabi denies having passed classified information to the Iranians. [New York Times, 6/2/2004; Newsweek, 5/10/2004; News Insight, 6/9/2004; CBS News, 6/3/2004]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Chalabi
          

November 6, 2005      US confrontation with Iran

       An Iraqi passenger plane lands in Tehran indicating the first time in 25 years that commerical flights between Iran and Iraq have taken place. Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, told Iraq's visiting deputy PM that he backed Iraq's stability. "Protection of Iraq's territorial integrity, independence and might is of special significance to Iran," Iranian television quoted Ahmadinejad as saying after talks with Ahmed Chalabi. [BBC, 11/6/2005]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Chalabi
          

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