Why Do We Pay Chalabi?

by TChris

Last month, TalkLeft asked why American citizens are prosecuted for lying to their government while the government pays Ahmed Chalabi and others associated with the Iraqi National Congress to provide it with false information. Now, according to Newsweek, the General Accounting Office is asking a related question: "Did Chalabi and the INC violate the terms of their funding by using U.S. money to sell the public on its anti-Saddam campaign and to lobby Congress?"

The terms of the grant that the government gave to the INC "strictly excluded" activities "to influence the policies of the United States Government or Congress or propagandizing the American people."

Even so, in 2002 the INC—in an apparent effort to get Congress to continue its funding—submitted to the Senate Appropriations Committee a list of 108 news stories published between October 2001 and May 2002. The INC's document said these stories contained "ICP product" from an INC "Information Collection Program" financed by State. The stories included allegations about Saddam's WMD programs and links to terrorism, as well as INC material supporting innuendo that linked Saddam to the 9/11 attacks.

The INC propoganda machine may have played a key role in developing support for the war in Iraq.

Chalabi contends that what the INC said before the war doesn't matter now. Iraq is a better place without Saddam Hussein, says Chalabi, and that's all that matters. But to some, the truth still matters, as does the INC's disregard of the terms of its funding.

After the State Department learned that the INC couldn't account for a large chunk of its grant money, funding responsibility was transferred to the Defense Intelligence Agency. The INC continues to receive payments for providing intelligence, but a former intelligence officer claims the Defense Department is "getting rolled like everyone else."

The Newsweek article makes the point that Chalabi has a history of playing by his own rules, having been convicted "of embezzling millions from his own bank in Jordan." He isn't trusted by the CIA or by the State Department, but the Defense Department continues to pay.

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