The U.S. military is defending a pro-U.S.
Iraqi leader targeted by the Bush administration.
U.S. military and Defense Department officials have relayed messages to
the administration that urged a halt to the attacks on Ahmad Chalabi,
head of the Iraqi National Congress and a member of the Iraqi Governing
officials said that despite criticism Chalabi remains a valuable asset in
the U.S.-led effort to establish a democratic Iraq.
Several senior Pentagon and military officials have expressed amazement
over the Iraqi and U.S. raids of the Baghdad homes of Chalabi and Kanan
Makiya, another leading pro-U.S. Iraqi involved in the INC. The Iraqi police
vandalized Chalabi's home in Baghdad on May 20 and confiscated computers and
files said to contain intelligence information, Middle East Newsline reported.
The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard Myers,
praised the INC and said it provided valuable intelligence to the U.S.
military in Iraq. Myers's assertion came amid charges from CIA and State
Department circles that Chalabi has consorted with Iranian intelligence and
helped feed disinformation to the CIA.
"The organization that he [Chalabi] is associated with has provided
intelligence to our intelligence unit there in Baghdad that has saved
Myers told the House Armed Services Committee on May 21.
Myers also said the INC continued to relay valuable intelligence since
the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime in April 2004. He said the INC
had provided the U.S. military with "useful and accurate" information over
last year and dismissed accusations that the INC duped U.S. military
"I don't have the information that can allow me to make that judgment,"
Myers said. "I think that remains to be seen, probably. But I just don't
On Monday, unidentified U.S. officials continued to assert that Chalabi
relayed intelligence information to Iran. The New York Times quoted
officials as saying that Chalabi provided Iran with classified information
from the CIA and Pentagon. The newspaper said an FBI investigation has
focused on U.S. officials who dealt regularly with Chalabi.
"I have never passed any classified information to Iran or have done
anything ø participated in any scheme of intelligence against the United
States," Chalabi said in a television interview on Sunday." "This charge is
false. I have never seen a U.S. classified document, and I have never
seen ø had a U.S. classified briefing."
"These charges are being put out by George Tenet," Chalabi added. "Let
him come to Congress. I will come to Congress, and I will lay everything on
Chalabi's aides said the CIA and State Department have long been angered
by the relationship of Chalabi and Makiya with Pentagon and congressional
leaders. They said the CIA was enraged by Chalabi's accusation in 1997 that
a U.S. intelligence operation to overthrow Saddam had been penetrated by
The administration's formal disassociation with the INC began on May 16
when Secretary of State Colin Powell said the United States was deliberately
misled regarding Iraq's weapons of mass destruction arsenal. Powell did not
identify the source, but aides said the secretary was referring to the INC.
Two days later, the Bush administration said it would not renew a
program under which $335,000 a month was sent to the INC by the Pentagon for
intelligence services in Iraq.
The Coalition Provisional Authority has tried to disassociate itself
from the raid of Chalabi's home, the target of which was said to have been
INC intelligence chief Aras Habib. CPA officials maintained that neither
U.S. officers searched Chalabi's home or office nor that CPA administrator
Paul Bremer ordered the raid. But they acknowledged that so-called civilian
contractors helped the Iraqi police and Interior Ministry in the raid and
that U.S. soldiers surrounded the perimeter of Chalabi's house.
"Their job is the professionalization of the Iraqi police service," CPA
senior adviser Dan Senor said. "So they were there to observe and advise the
Iraqi police during this operation, as they do on numerous operations. They
are the only non-Iraqis, to my understanding, that were there."