Monday, August 30, 2004

Chalabi and forgery

My old speculations as to who forged the Niger uranium documents - likely an Iraqi defector associate of Chalabi - and the mechanics of how the documents got into the intelligence arena, may turn out to be true. From an article by Jane Mayer in the New Yorker:

"In retrospect, one detail of Chalabi's operation seems particularly noteworthy. In 1994, Baer said, he went with Chalabi to visit 'a forgery shop' that the I.N.C. had set up inside an abandoned schoolhouse in Salahuddin, a town in Kurdistan. 'It was something like a spy novel,' Baer said. '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.' Baer had no evidence that Chalabi forged any of the disputed intelligence documents that were used to foment alarm in the run-up to the war. But, he said, 'he was forging back then, in order to bring down Saddam.' In the Los Angeles Times, Hugh Pope wrote of one harmless-seeming prank that emerged from Chalabi's specialty shop: a precise mockup of an Iraqi newspaper that was filled with stories about Saddam's human-rights abuses. Another faked document ended up directly affecting Baer. It was a copy of a forged letter to Chalabi, made to look as if it were written on the stationery of President Clinton's National Security Council. The letter asked for Chalabi's help in an American-led assassination plot against Saddam. 'It was a complete fake,' Baer said, adding that he believed it was an effort to hoodwink the Iranians into joining a plot against Saddam; an indication of American involvement, Chalabi hoped, would convince them that the effort was serious. Brooke acknowledged that the I.N.C. had run a forgery shop, but denied that Chalabi had created the phony assassination letter. 'That would be illegal,' he said. To Baer's dismay, the letter eventually made its way to Langley, Virginia, and the C.I.A. accused him of being involved in the scheme. Baer said he had to pass a polygraph test in order to prove otherwise."

So Chalabi has a history of forgery. His recent legal problems in Iraq involve allegations of forgery, and forgery is also a part of the massive Jordanian case against him. He seems to be an enthusiastic, if not particularly skilled, forger, which would explain why the Niger documents were such obvious fakes. If Chalabi manufactured the Niger documents, it is inconceivable that at least some of his Pentagon neocon handlers didn't know that the Niger documents were fake at the time they were being used as evidence of Saddam's wrongdoing which supposedly justified the attack on Iraq.