It would be a foolish endeavor to call for this Republican Congress to mount a thorough investigation of this Republican administration. But what else is there to do in response to the comments made by Secretary of State Colin Powell this past weekend?
Appearing on Meet the Press, Powell acknowledged–finally!–that he and the Bush administration misled the nation about the WMD threat posed by Iraq before the war. Specifically, he said that he was wrong when he appeared before the UN Security Council on February 5, 2003, and alleged that Iraq had developed mobile laboratories to produce biological weapons. That was one of the more dramatic claims he and the administration used to justify the invasion of Iraq. (Remember the drawings he displayed.) Yet Powell said on MTP, “it turned out that the sourcing was inaccurate and wrong and in some cases, deliberately misleading.” Powell did not spell it out, but the main source for this claim was an engineer linked to the Iraqi National Congress, the exile group led by Ahmed Chalabi, who is now part of the Iraqi Governing Council.
Powell noted that he was “comfortable at the time that I made the presentation it reflected the collective judgment, the sound judgment of the intelligence community.” In other words, the CIA was scammed by Chalabi’s outfit, and it never caught on. So who’s been fired over this? After all, the nation supposedly went to war partly due to this intelligence. And partly because of this bad information over 700 Americans and countless Iraqis have lost their lives. Shouldn’t someone be held accountable? Maybe CIA chief George Tenet, or his underlings who went for the bait? Or Chalabi’s neocon friends and champions at the Pentagon: Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, Richard Perle? How do they feel about their pal, the great Iraqi leader, now?
For months after the invasion, George W. Bush told the public that he had based his decision to invade Iraq on “good, solid intelligence.” Does he still believe that? Has anyone told him that his government was hornswoggled by Chalabi, who was once convicted of massive bank fraud in Jordan. (Since Bush has said he does not read the newspapers or pay much attention to conventional media, he may not have heard about Powell’s remarks unless an aide bothered to brief him on them.) And in January, Dick Cheney said that there was “conclusive evidence” that Saddam Hussein had manufactured bioweapons labs on wheels. Is he willing to say he was wrong?
For his part, Chalabi has not shown any regret. In February, he told the London Telegraph, “we are heroes in error….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.” [UPDATE: On May 20, Chalabi’s compound in Baghdad was raided by US forces while Chalabi was present. Iraqi police, who participated in the raid, seized documents and a computer belonging to Chalabi. Several members of his entourage were taken away. Other offices of Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress were raided. A senior coalition official told Associated Press the raids were conducted pursuant to warrants issued by an Iraqi judge. And US officials in Iraq have complained that Chalabi has interfered with an investigation into corruption in the UN-run oil-for-food program. “I am America’s best friend in Iraq,” said Chalabi.]