If that's true, this is a huge scandal.
May 22, 2004 9:52 AM   Subscribe

Was Bush duped into war by Iran? "Iranian intelligence has been manipulating the United States through Chalabi by furnishing...information to provoke the United States into getting rid of Saddam Hussein," said an intelligence source.
posted by CunningLinguist (54 comments total)
From another story: "The bottom line here is that much of the information the administration had about Iraq may have come from an Iranian agent....If that's true, this is a huge scandal."

Chalabi's security chief is a fugitive since the raid on Chalabi's house this week.

This guy has been all over Chalabi for ages and has lots more info, analysis and speculation.
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:53 AM on May 22, 2004

George W. Bush, the Ayatollah's bitch. Who's the most powerful man in the world?
posted by dayvin at 10:04 AM on May 22, 2004

If so, can we execute him for treason?
posted by Kwantsar at 10:10 AM on May 22, 2004

Not to be glib, but I kinda thought this was already settled in the affirmative, seeing as how this was at the top of the Neocon wish-list going back to Clinton. Granted, this shifts the duplicity over to the Iranians, but one can't help wondering if they were facilitated by like-minded individuals in the Bush administration.

Oh yeah: Why does Newsday hate America?
posted by RavinDave at 10:11 AM on May 22, 2004

Back in the 80's Reagan's CIA Director William Casey chortled about how he cleverly fed disinformation and weapons to both sides in the Iran-Iraq War thereby killing millions in the two countries without firing a shot.

It took 20 years of patient waiting for Iran to find an administration so incompetent that they could reverse the trick and manipulate Americans into doing the dirty work for them in Iraq, crippling both of their enemies in the process.
posted by JackFlash at 10:14 AM on May 22, 2004

Clearly this gives the USA justification to invade Iran. They've got, uh, Weapons of Mass Deception.
posted by Kwantsar at 10:15 AM on May 22, 2004

I wish we could impeach at the very least--since when are we supposed to be doing Iran's dirty work--and what fools we are for actually doing it.
posted by amberglow at 10:15 AM on May 22, 2004

To say the Bush administration was duped by Chalabi isn't a complete description. They would have to have some sort of epic amount of ignorance to still believe what Chalabi was spewing out right up until last week. More like they were using him as a vehicle for propaganda.

I'm curious to see if the UN Oil-For-Food scandal has anything to do with why the US turned on him right now of all times.
posted by destro at 10:20 AM on May 22, 2004

I'm not convinced that Bush was duped into anything, exactly.

I think he had his own, dishonest motives - one-upping his father, revenge, and so on.

Chalabi served as a useful conduit for wildly juiced up and simply faked intel to justify the WMD pretext, sure.

But people in the Bush Administration had many motives for the invasion and occupation of Iraq - mostly self serving and insane.

And - oh yeah - there's also the religious crusade aspect.
posted by troutfishing at 10:35 AM on May 22, 2004

Great. Let's blame it on Iran. Now bomb them other fucking rogue sandmonkeyfucks!
posted by svale at 10:38 AM on May 22, 2004

There's so much murk in the waters, it's hard to tell what's going on. Josh Marshal (linked above) documents well known ties between the INC and Iran, so it's not like, as destro says, they didn't know Chalabi was playing all the angles. I'm totally confused about what's true and what is being proclaimed true for other reasons (discrediting Chalabi, boosting Chalabi, looking for scapegoats for WMD - oh there are so many possible theories.) And it's all wound up with the internal State vs Pentagon battle. Who's leaking what and why?
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:39 AM on May 22, 2004

I think he had his own, dishonest motives - one-upping his father, revenge, and so on.

Or it may be that the administration had their own honest motives. But whether or not Iran tried to lead us around by the nose, it's obvious that the administration wanted to believe, and when that happens, you're easy to lead around.
posted by namespan at 11:10 AM on May 22, 2004

...it's obvious that the administration wanted to believe, and when that happens, you're easy to lead around.

Well, that's a good con man's ideal scenario: That the "mark" wants to believe what the con is selling.

In this case, of course, the mark was a con, too. Which made them an even easier mark: After all, they thought they were on top of things...

Arrogance is so cool, wot?
posted by lodurr at 11:47 AM on May 22, 2004

I think it would be naive to think its possible to understand what went on. This is the Middle East after all.
posted by stbalbach at 12:30 PM on May 22, 2004

As CunningLinguist says, it's hard to know what the truth is as there has been so much crap & counter-crap flying around.

What's the sign for the time when we can start saying 'quagmire'?
posted by i_cola at 12:52 PM on May 22, 2004

about 6 months ago, i_cola.
posted by amberglow at 1:13 PM on May 22, 2004

Ahhh those halcyon days when the biggest argument about this war, was whether to use the word quagmire.
posted by fullerine at 1:22 PM on May 22, 2004

So let's see: 70 or so attacks per day a few months ago is down to five or six a day.

Not bad for a place that is twice the size of Idaho and has three times the population of Los Angeles County.

Nope, "quagmire" was and remains wishful thinking. Like al-Sadr's "Tet Offensive."

By people with really a screwed-up values system.
posted by kablam at 2:08 PM on May 22, 2004

lodurr - there's an old carnival saying - "There's no such thing as an honest mark". Only people who think they can outwit the con play.

kablam - the time's past when you can deny reality by pointing fingers at people for a "screwed up values system"
posted by pyramid termite at 2:22 PM on May 22, 2004

So let's see: 70 or so attacks per day a few months ago is down to five or six a day.

posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:35 PM on May 22, 2004

70 or so attacks per day a few months ago is down to five or six a day.

If that were true, we would be seeing much fewer coalition deaths compared to a few months ago. In fact, exactly the opposite has happened.
posted by Silune at 2:35 PM on May 22, 2004

As my old Uncle Litvak once said to Mahatma Kane Jeeves:

'Never give a sucker an even break or smarten up a chump.
But you can't cheat an honest man."
posted by rdone at 2:37 PM on May 22, 2004

I'm not a big fan of this war but I don't buy the image of the Administration being led by the nose by an Iranian agents. I think that it was obvious from the Niger affair that the Administration was cherry-picking the intelligence that fit its agenda.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:44 PM on May 22, 2004

kablam - the comparison to Tet is off base for about a dozen different reasons, but here's one to ponder :

It was mostly Al Sadr's offensive, sure - but the US response that left a couple of hundred noncombatants dead in Fallujah combined with the nuclear-strength scandal from Abu Ghraib and the recent wedding party massacre, not to mention......

Point being - the number of iraqis opposed to the US occupation has increased steadily over time. Now it's up to about 80%. And still rising. Soon it will 85%, probably, then 90%....

You might as well call Americans screwed up, right? Because we're occupying Iraq? Wait a minute! - If Iraqis are so screwed up, why is the US wasting so many of it's own lives, incurring so much hate, killing so many Iraqis, and coming to be so hated around the World?
posted by troutfishing at 2:55 PM on May 22, 2004

I guess we're just idealistic.
posted by troutfishing at 3:08 PM on May 22, 2004


I'd like to know where you get the figure of 5-6 attacks per day. Does this figure include the fairly serious fighting in Najaf, and if so what counts as "one attack" in such circumstances? Furthermore, the point of the "quagmire" term is to indicate an open-ended commitment with little evidence of progress towards long-term stability. As such a drop in attacks on US forces is fairly moot if violence shifts to Iraqi targets, if there is little success in establishing democratic institutions, in transferring real power or withdrawing US forces from frontline security responsibilities.

All that said, I agree with your sentiment.

The casualty rate for May is not that of April and with other successes, would tend to indicate a positive trend...
Fallujah is now apparently the "safest city in Iraq".
Peace seems to be breaking out in Karbala.


I am sure the figures you quote for Iraqi views of the occupation are correct, but they are not necessarily critical. They are only important if they accurately reflect a willingness to commit violence against those currently administering the country - the coalition. Violence against one form of government tends in the short-term to delegitimise all government, whatever the form. This wouldn't bode well for stability in Iraq. More specifically, it would tend to delegitimise any future Iraqi administration because such a government will have to rely on the forces of the coalition for help with security. The goal of creating an independent, democratic Iraq becomes that much less likely if those forces are utterly intolerable to the majority of Iraqis. As it is, the number and more importantly, the geographical concentration of attacks per day simply do not indicate a wide-spread, pervasive enthusiasm for anti-coalition violence. Thus it is still possible that a real transfer of power on June 30th and the introduction of a visibly independent Iraqi government will ensure that Iraq remains a permissive environment for the coalition and thus retains the space required for a real, opinion-changing political process.

In fact, thinking about it, I would be quite worried about the confidence of Iraqis to move Iraq forward by themselves if they didn't resent the occupation and desire independent government. What self-respecting nation wishes to be reminded everyday of a humiliating defeat endured at the hands of a foreign power it was always, at best ambivalent about? The fact the US removed a murderous thug from their lives doesn't diminish this truth; indeed it's a further humiliation because it proved them so weak and degraded as to be unable to do it themselves. So, the resentment is probably inevitable; perhaps even healthy. Resentment and injured pride also characterised post-liberation relations between the US and France as well, without causing disaster.

The opinion figures that matter far more, are those which indicate Iraqis support for the IP, the CDC, the nascent army and the Governing Council. On that front, I feel this opinion poll does give some hope for the future, as do the high turnout and technocratic/secular electees of the municipal elections held in the past months. Further to this (and getting back to the raison d'etre of the thread) the binning of Chalabi, can only be seen as a good move by the CPA and an indication that some things at least are getting better. The man was always, always a liability and I doubt anyone, from Bremer down failed to see the opinion poll which placed him near the bottom in the Iraqi public's trust. [see pages 15/16].

I've found that some fail to see the CPA's repudiation of this convicted criminal as positive and - despite their inability to come up with a credible conspiracy theory - often insist that this move against Chalabi must be a sinister ploy by the US. I just don't buy it. The logical explanation is simply a facing of facts by those in charge - he was a cretin and a liability so they ditched him. Why make the explanation more complicated than the evidence requires?

And finally, to think the tendentious "intelligence" collated by the CIA from Iran/Chalabi justified the invasion in the minds of the administration itself is patently stupid. They always had reasons other than WMD - Iran, if it contributed anything, only made their job of justifying it to everyone else that bit easier. The Bush clique didn't do anything they weren't going to do because of it.
posted by pots at 5:23 PM on May 22, 2004

troutfishing: first of all, the Fallujah troubles happened before al-Sadr. It started as an expedition to rout a concentration of bad boys after the killing of the four US contractors. Soon the word was out that "If you go to Fallujah, you can kill Americans", and we discovered we could use the city as a roach motel.
The Marines stayed in the industrial district, and drew the fighters towards their position with the intent of minimizing civilian casualties. The Marines sent in the Iraqi General only when the alternative was to invade residential neighborhoods.
Second, the prison scandal is "dead already, Jim." It won't go anywhere because there really is no political advantage to be gained by anyone in pursuing it.
As far as the "wedding party" goes, the military has killed that one dead with a ton of "non-wedding party" evidence at the "300 bed way station" with lots of weapons and money and a SATCOM transceiver.

Even the popularity poll is questionable. 80% "opposed to the US occupation" doesn't tell but a fraction of the whole story. I know this is inaccurate because just taking the Kurds into account, they would love it if the entire US contingent moved up to Kurdistan. Many others would say that they "are opposed to combat near where they live", and a lot would say "they want Iraqis running the place".

These and many other variations cast lots of different shades on what "opposed to the US occupation" means, and while not entirely disingenuous, this is not what I would call a rock steady statistic.
posted by kablam at 5:24 PM on May 22, 2004

On the subject of money recovered at the wedding party massacre:

From CNN: ""Coalition forces on the ground recovered numerous weapons, 2 million Iraqi and Syrian dinar, foreign passports and a satcom radio," the statement said."

According to xe.com's currency converter, 2,000,000.00 Iraq Dinars = 1,396.37 USD. Or about what might be given as wedding presents.

I'll give props to the spin machine for betting that none of the news coverage would bat an eye at ther bullshit.
posted by Space Coyote at 5:50 PM on May 22, 2004

"roach motel" ?

I'm definitely not agreeing with your sentiment there kablam. I think you're a little misguided if you believe all violence directed against coalition forces is simply a reflection of iraqi perfidy - some of the blame must be apportioned to an occupying force insensitive to cultural norms and determined to use maximum force rather than maximum restraint. Whatever view you have of the war - support it or not - I think you would be deluded to dismiss the impact of many thousands of Iraqi deaths (civilian and military) on the acquiescence of an occupied people. Just refer to the self-righteous anger and violence of post-9/11 America for a contemporary example. In light of this consideration, using Fallujah as a "roach motel" to slaughter a few hundred more, would hardly seem a productive end.
posted by pots at 6:13 PM on May 22, 2004

Space Coyote: Syria doesn't have a dinar. The reporting on that money got messed up somewhere. If the cash was in Syrian pounds it would equal about 40K USD. With the Syrian per capita GDP 10X lower than that of the US, that amount would go fairly far in that part of the world.
posted by shoos at 7:30 PM on May 22, 2004

Seems there's a video of the wedding showing women killed and smashed musical instruments.
posted by destro at 8:41 PM on May 22, 2004

kablam - come on now. You're a lot smarter than that, I happen to know....so, what gives?

" it is still possible that a real transfer of power on June 30th and the introduction of a visibly independent Iraqi government will ensure that Iraq remains a permissive environment for the coalition and thus retains the space required for a real, opinion-changing political process.
- Potts, indulge me to quote from a real life experience :

I once drove the wrong way into a one-way tunnel. The realization of this only sunk into my head gradually.

After about a mile, I'd guess.

When I finally realized it, I slammed on the brakes and backed up in reverse very, very fast. While doing so, additionally, it was hard to steer.

I did survive though. I credit a fast reverse gear and also loose preconceptions.
posted by troutfishing at 9:50 PM on May 22, 2004

History's Fools

Shortly after September 11, Sir Michael Howard, the British military historian, issued what sounded then like an apocalyptic warning: that in the context of the "war of civilizations" between radical Islam and the West a US occupation of Iraq would be tantamount to a nuclear exchange between the superpowers during the Cold War. It sounds like realism now. The fallout from the photographs will poison Muslim minds against the US, and possibly against democracy, throughout this century. Before the war, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak cautioned that a US invasion of Iraq would create "a hundred Bin Ladens." That is likely to prove a conservative estimate.

As for US credibility beyond the Middle East, a friend writes: "I'm guessing that another result of this adventure is that much of the world will now see us as a paper tiger (which has both good and bad aspects). After seeing how incapable we are, with our 135,000-man army, of dealing even with a weak, backward little country like Iraq, is any heavily armed tyrant quaking in his boots? All we can do is blow up things. Don't our hinted warnings to China (China!) about Taiwan sound hollow now? If China decides to take Taiwan, we will ... what? Send Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle over there with a company of Marines?"

Paradoxically, the very scale of the debacle in Iraq may yield one long-term good: the repudiation of neo-conservative "democratic imperialism." The Americans killed in Iraq will not have died in vain if their sacrifice keeps other Americans from dying in neo-con wars to "remediate" Syria, Iran, or North Korea. After Iraq, "neo-conservative" may achieve the resonance of "isolationist" after World War II—a term of opprobrium for a discredited approach to foreign policy, shorthand for dangerous innocence about world realities. Like the isolationists, the neo-cons are history's fools. The strategy they championed was the wrongest possible strategy for the wrongest possible moment in the wrongest possible region of the world.

posted by y2karl at 10:34 PM on May 22, 2004

Awesome! This is like what you can do in "Master of Orion 2," use your spies to turn your enemies against each other. Next thing you know, the lizardmen think it was the catpeople and there's a galactic war breaking out. Yowzer!
posted by inksyndicate at 1:18 AM on May 23, 2004

In all seriousness, isn't it time to ask whether Chalabi forged those Nigerian uranium documents?
posted by inksyndicate at 1:24 AM on May 23, 2004


I had a similar experience when leaving a gas station late at night - the traffic was one way from the left... and I turned left, straight into it. I puzzled, for about a half a second, over the twin set of headlights coming towards me at 55, before seriously preparing myself for a brutally quick death. Yet, I'm here today so I guess I also have the benefit of "a fast reverse gear and... loose preconceptions".

But if I too can survive a serious error of judgement, so what? It's irrelevant to this thread because your analogy - choosing between dying or living - is false when applied to the Iraq situation. Can you convincingly argue that a unilateral withdrawal will be more beneficial to Iraq than a staged retreat, paralleled by a genuine political process? If you believe the US has no intention of ending the military occupation or of allowing genuine political freedom, that's an argument for a different occupation policy, not for getting out. Perhaps your concern is not with Iraq per se, but with world opinion of the US... If so, how can it possibly improve if post-Saddam/post-occupation Iraq is simply left to whatever hellish fate awaits it? As y2karl points out, sticking your head in the sand and disengaging entirely from the problem to hand - a la Robert Taft - was wrong in the 1940s and it's wrong now.

Perhaps I'm taking your analogy too far. Maybe you're not advocating withdrawal, you simply think my perception of the situation is skewed. If that's so, fine. I can admit being wrong. But that said, I'm not really willing to accept an implied myopia without an argument to demonstrate it.

I don't really have an axe to grind, and I'm certainly not kablam or parisparamus - willing to slaughter half the world before admitting a mistake. Neither am I a Bush-friend; I'm just concerned for Iraq and Iraqis who, after all are in this mess because our countries decided (foolishly, I now believe) that war was "a good thing". This in mind, I just cannot see how their welfare can possibly be advanced by a unilateral withdrawal; nor do I yet see why I am so misguided to believe the political process can succeed.
posted by pots at 4:37 AM on May 23, 2004

So Chalabi was just on Meet the Press and was asked about the DIA conclusions that he peddled Iranian disinformation to the Pentagon. In response, he denied passing American secrets to Iran.

Um, hello?
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:39 AM on May 23, 2004

I'm watching it---he's saying he wants to go to Congress and answer all charges. (like that'll happen)
posted by amberglow at 7:40 AM on May 23, 2004

Oooo, live blogging! Sometimes Russert is great. After reading a long series of quotes from various top officials calling Chalabi a phony and a fraud, he just hit him with: "Mr. Chalabi, how could all these people be wrong."
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:43 AM on May 23, 2004

but Russert never gets that tough with US figures, which is a pity
posted by amberglow at 7:55 AM on May 23, 2004

Chalabi, Chalabi, Baloney....
posted by Eekacat at 8:04 AM on May 23, 2004

Chalabi is pulling a Ginsberg, appearing on every Sabbath gasbag show to say he wants to come defend himself before Congress.

We never provided any classified information from the U.S. to Iran, and neither I nor anyone in the INC. And that is a charge being put out by George Tenet. I say, let him bring all his charges, all his documents. We also will bring all our charges and all our documents to the U.S. Congress, and let Congress have hearings and resolve this issue.

As for providing false information about weapons of mass destruction, the answer is that we never provided false information, or indeed any kind of information. What we provided was defectors....We did introduce them to three people whom we -- the identity of whom we verified, whom we believed knew about weapons of mass destruction. They talked to them. They interrogated them. One of them they took to the United States and had him for over a year before the war. It is not our responsibility to verify this information. It is blame-shifting, again, by the CIA. The CIA is responsible, under U.S. law, for all information, secret information provided to the president, and that is clear.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:38 AM on May 23, 2004

troutfishing: you say I'm smarter than that, and that you know. But you don't say what you think are the errors in what I said.

I don't foresee any grand "withdrawl" from Iraq, other than the scheduled departure of the two divisions already slated to leave. The US continues to train and equip large numbers of Iraqi military, border patrol, civil defense and police, who are being rotated in to take control of city after city.
The turnover of considerable autonomy, which has already been taking place, I might add, will make their de jure government a de facto interim government on June 30th. More and more the US will pull out of the cities, having less and less visibility, moving to rural bases.
The last major event for US, and probably UN participation, will be the security and honesty of the January elections.
But the US will remain in Iraq as a regional headquarters, in its new Command, in much the same way it remained in Germany after WWII. Not to police Germany, but to protect western Europe.

One hidden paradox is why the US has not been active in "job creation" for the Iraqi people. The answer to that is that the US does not want Iraqis beholden to the US, they want them appreciative of their elected government. And "job creation" is the quickest, easiest, and most satisfying way for the (now wealthy) elected Iraqi government to ingratiate itself to its people.

posted by kablam at 8:50 AM on May 23, 2004

White House plans limits to Iraq sovereignty The Bush administration's plans for a new caretaker government in Iraq would place severe limits on its sovereignty, including only partial command over its armed forces and no authority to enact new laws, according to administration officials.

posted by amberglow at 9:05 AM on May 23, 2004

It might be a very smart idea to start Chalabi-related hearings in Congress ASAP, so that he will be tied up outside of Iraq from June 30th till after whenever Iraq has elections. I think that by now everyone agrees he has no place in the country's future, and the faster we can make that Ahmed-free era come to pass, the better.
posted by Ptrin at 10:40 AM on May 23, 2004

Looking at the website for the Afghan Investment Support Agency, I don't have a lot of hope for the average Iraqi under whatever government we leave Iraq with.

The Afghan government is trying its best to encourage investment in Afghanistan:

Investor friendly Investment law

Investment can be 100% foreign owned

Tax holidays (between 4 – 8 years)

privatization of state industry is in discussion

Message from the president of AISA:

During less than a three month period, AISA has been able to get rid of unnecessary bureaucracy and red tape and shorten the investment registration/licensing process from several months to just five days. AISA’s ability to do so has been the result of hard work, negotiation with the governmental agencies and support of the High Commission for Investment

I know this is about Afghanistan, but if our record can give us any clues to what's going to happen to Iraq, I apologize if I'm not too optimistic.
posted by Slimemonster at 5:49 PM on May 23, 2004

I don't foresee any grand "withdrawl" from Iraq, other than the scheduled departure of the two divisions already slated to leave. The US continues to train and equip large numbers of Iraqi military, border patrol, civil defense and police, who are being rotated in to take control of city after city.
The turnover of considerable autonomy, which has already been taking place, I might add, will make their de jure government a de facto interim government on June 30th.

Iraq dangers force funds shift

The recent destruction of police stations and desertion of some Iraqi security officers has led US officials to shift hundreds of millions of dollars from other rebuilding projects to more security-related expenses such as repairing damaged buildings, buying new equipment,and training new recruits, according to a new report on the progress of the post-war reconstruction.

A quarterly update from US civilian authorities in Iraq highlights the financial strain facing American officials dealing with a growing insurgency that has launched more attacks against US-led coalition forces and Iraqi security personnel.

The decline in security is leading to shortfalls in other areas, such as economic recovery, considered critical to Iraq's long-term stability as funds are transferred from some rebuilding and aid projects to beef up security, according to the April report by the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad.

Hussein's borrowing looms over Iraq hopes - $120 billion in debt is 9 times nation's economic output

The Bush administration's war has removed the old dictator, but not his debts.

Iraq is thus burdened with an estimated $120 billion it owes. The enormous load, 900 percent the size of the national economy, dwarfs the approximately $33 billion the international community has so far committed to Iraq's reconstruction. The infrastructure is in ruins and the country is almost completely dependent on one industry, oil, according to the International Monetary Fund, which is leading the effort to analyze Iraq's economic prospects.

"People realize that although Iraq has very large oil resources, its capacity to produce oil just isn't sufficient to pay for both reconstruction and debt servicing," Lorenzo Perez, the head of the IMF's Iraq team, said in a recent IMF publication.

And the debt is separate from another $125 billion or so of reparation claims -- mainly from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia -- from the Gulf War.

Any new Iraqi government will be saddled with a battered economy and unhappy creditors. Iraq's long-term survival, experts and international financial officials say, will depend on what would be one of the largest -- and possibly one of the most contentious -- debt forgiveness programs in history.

Iraq: Oil exports suffer new blow with world prices near 13-year highs

Tanker loadings from Basra, Iraq’s main southern port, have been halved by the sabotage of one of the terminal’s two feeder pipelines in a fresh blow to an industry already reeling from prolonged disruption of exports from its main northern oilfields. The setback for the key foreign exchange earner, which the occupying coalition had been counting on to fund the reconstruction and recovery of Iraq following its spring 2003 invasion, came with world oil prices still hovering near 13-year highs.

“We have dropped from an average of 80,000 barrels per hour [BPH] to 40,000d”, said Ali Nasr Rubaie, manager of Basra’s offshore terminal, one of just two serving Iraq’s southern oilfields. The terminal’s executive director, Hamad Assadi, confirmed the fall in loadings following an attack on the feeder pipeline 40 kilometers south of the city.
Site engineers acknowledged that the 80,000 BPH figure had not always been met because of production constraints at the wells. Loadings sometimes ran as low as 50,000 BPH, said Moayyed Hashem.

U.S. Needs More Time to Train and Equip Iraqis

Senior American officers in Iraq have been forced to extend significantly the time for training and equipping Iraqi security and military forces, prolonging the time that large numbers of American forces will be required to help with such basic duties as policing and border patrol.

The new American general in charge of training and equipping all Iraqi security and military forces, Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus, declined last week to set a date for when more than 200,000 Iraqi police, civil defense units, border patrol, soldiers and facility protection guards would be fully ready.

"I don't think you can put a timetable on this," General Petraeus said in a telephone interview from Fort Campbell, Ky., as he prepared to leave for his new assignment in early June. "We'll accelerate as fast as we can. But you have to be careful not to rush to failure. If you ask too much of a unit that's not sufficiently trained and equipped, it'll set you back."

As deadline nears, form of new Iraqi government is still unclear

For weeks, the American occupation authority in Iraq has been updating the timetable leading to the day it is supposed to go out of business - June 30 - declaring on its Web site on Sunday that there were "46 days until Iraqi sovereignty."

Yet nowhere on the Web site, or anyplace else in official U.S. statements, can be found the identity of the new Iraqi leadership or the precise powers of the new Iraqi government over many important matters, including the full authority over Iraqi armed forces.

Failure in Iraq now may be an option

Anthony Cordesman, a leading Iraq expert and early supporter of the war, wrote in a recent report that while the United States is not yet defeated in Iraq militarily or politically, there is now the threat of "a serious strategic defeat."

"It may not be possible to avoid some form of defeat, but the U.S. must make every effort to do so," wrote Cordesman, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies here. Army Maj. Gen. Charles H. Swannack Jr. commands the 82nd Airborne Division, which has done considerable fighting in Iraq, and told The Washington Post that he believes the United States is losing the war at the strategic level. In other words, it is winning the battles but losing the larger effort to transform Iraq.

Some prominent analysts, such as Brookings Institution security expert Michael O'Hanlon and retired Gen. William Odom, are urging the United States to set a date for withdrawal or to at least pull out all its troops as quickly as possible...

"It depends on the definition of success," said Noah Feldman, a New York University law professor and former adviser to the U.S. occupation in Iraq. "At this point the most optimistic definition of success - the warmest, fuzziest dreams of Paul Wolfowitz - I think are thoroughly dashed. The creation of a liberal, secular democracy was never realistic and it's understood now that it's not going to happen."

Rashid Khalidy, who heads the Middle East Institute at Columbia University, also says the United States has failed at its original goals, though he defines them differently.

"I'm actually afraid that failure in terms of the objectives that were initially [set] is absolutely an inevitability," he said. "I don't think the U.S. can keep bases in Iraq. I don't think we're going to have a pliable Iraqi government that will do what we want and I don't think we're going to have a privileged position vis-a-vis Iraqi oil."

posted by y2karl at 7:08 PM on May 23, 2004

yrkarl - Tony Cordesman's take is suspect, I'd say, but Maj. Gen. Charles Swannack, Jr. lays it straight on the line :

Pullout, or heads on pikes.

What'll it be, folks?
posted by troutfishing at 8:34 PM on May 23, 2004

It seems the media has already dropped it, since the Bush speech. Hopefully Congress or someone will reignite it.
posted by amberglow at 9:09 PM on May 25, 2004

cunnilinguist, why are you giving credence to this one particular "intelligence source?" Because the other "intelligence sources" in Washington fell for the Iranian "manipulation?"
posted by shoos at 1:36 AM on May 26, 2004

I have no idea who fell for what, but it does seem like this is the revenge of the anti-Chalabi crowd.
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:06 AM on May 26, 2004

If you define the "anti-Chalabi crowd" as those who (sometimes loudly) concluded before the war that Chalabi was a conman whose 'evidence' was suspect (and who had a bad habit of fudging the books), you have: eight Western governments, the State department, the Clinton Administration, the CIA, the UN nuclear watchdog group, the people of Iraq, many Republicans in congress, and the country of Jordan, to name a few. And on the pro-Chalabi side you have only the neocons in the pentagon and their apologists.

But the neocons so loved him that they apparently gave him access to very high level top secret information. The information he was caught passing on to Iran was so secret it would be known by only a "handful of people" in the pentagon. The FBI are looking your way Mr. Feith. Um, yes, that would be treason.

I agree with those who say Bush was a mark who wanted to be led into a war with Iraq, but I wonder which of his other nonsensical Middle Eastern policies were originally brainstorms of the ayatollah. I'm thinking, for example, about Bush's strange decision in July 2002 to reverse longstanding US policy and cease dialogue with the reformers in the Iranian government because they were "too weak". Khatami's party, who had held the majority in parliament, was then routed in Feb of this year, replaced by hardliners, with little objection from Bush. I'm sure there are other examples...
posted by boo at 10:52 AM on May 27, 2004

I think Sid Blumenthal is a snake, but holy crap this is good writing:

"Washington, which was just weeks ago in the grip of neoconservative orthodoxy and absolute belief in Bush's inevitability and righteousness, is now in the throes of agonizing events and being ripped apart by investigations. Things fall apart; all that was hidden is revealed; all sacred exposed as profane: the military, loyal and lumbering, betrayed and embittered; the general in the field, Lt. Gen. Sanchez, disgraced and cashiered; and the most respected retired generals training their artillery on those who have ill-used the troops, still dying in the field; the intelligence agencies, a nautilus of chambers, abused and angry, its retired operatives plying their craft with the press corps, seeping dangerous truths; the press, hesitatingly and wobbly, investigating its own falsehoods; the neocons, publicly redoubling their passionate intensity, defending their hero and deceiver Chalabi, privately squabbling, anxiously awaiting the footsteps of FBI agents; Colin Powell, once the most acclaimed man in America, embarked on an endless quest to restore his reputation, damaged above all by his failure of nerve; everyone in the line of fire motioning toward the chain of command, spiraling upward and sideways, until the finger pointing in a phalanx is directed at the hollow crown."
posted by CunningLinguist at 5:51 PM on May 27, 2004

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