OK, I'm off Hitchens' bandwagon until further notice. I have suffered his ardent support of the Iraq initiative, his confident rebuttals of failure accusations, and his petulant attacks on those who dare "pillow up" and point out what a miserable failure it's been. But this is really too much. I find Hitchens to be a brilliant writer, and a shark for an illogical argument. He has a keen ability to parse arguments and carefully keep his consistent. But clearly, Hitch was duped by Chalabi's charm long ago, and clings to that view against all evidence. Of course I've known he was a Chalabi defender, but I didn't realize the extent to which he'd been mezmerized:
At our long meeting, Chalabi impressed me for three reasons. The first was that he thought the overthrow of one of the world's foulest-ever despotisms could be accomplished. I knew enough by then to know that any Iraqi taking this position in public was risking his life and the lives of his family. I did not know Iraq very well but had visited the country several times in peace and war and met numerous Iraqis, and the second thing that impressed me was that, whenever I mentioned any name, Chalabi was able to make an exhaustive comment on him or her. (The third thing that impressed me was his astonishingly extensive knowledge of literary and political arcana, but that's irrelevant to our purposes here.)
Almost crazy-confidence and an intense manipulation of the politics of personal acquaintances. Hmmmm...what superpower leader does that sound like?
In this column, Hitchens blows off Chalabi's embezzlement conviction, close ties to Iran, responsibility for passing false intel to Washington (bizarrely blaming the recipients more for being stupid), and yes--any possibility that Chalabi either received our intel, or passed it on:
As to the accusation that Chalabi has endangered American national security by slipping secrets to Tehran, I can only say that three days ago, I broke my usual rule and had a "deep background" meeting with a very "senior administration official." This person, given every opportunity to signal even slightly that I ought to treat the charges seriously, pointedly declined to do so. I thought I should put this on record.
Maybe he thought you said hang up if the story wasn't true, Carl.
This is absurd. The guy is a crook, a liar, very possibly a spy, and has virtually no backing in his own country. But because he can remember faces and has panache, what the hell--let him give it a shot.