Indict Chalabi?

The evidence that Ahmed Chalabi and his colleagues systematically provided false information to the United States government in order to get us to overthrow Saddam Hussein is now virtually incontrovertible. Today’s New York Times has details of Chalabi’s successful disinformation campaign, as supplied by one of Chalabi’s operatives.

As pointed out previously in this space, this is shameful to those American officals who were fooled, or wanted to be fooled, by Chalabi, or who used his bogus information to fool others, but it’s nothing for Chalabi to be ashamed of. He owed loyalty to his countrymen, not to us. (Whether he was in fact working for Iran, the common enemy of Iraq and the US, is a different question.)

But law doesn’t always track ethics. Fooling us into fighting his civil war for him may have been morally legitmate, but it was still a violation of U.S. law: 18 USC 1001 makes it a felony to make a false statement or otherwise deceive the government of the United States.

I, for one, can’t think of any good reason not to indict Chalabi, who is no longer an official of the Iraqi government and who therefore no longer has any sort of diplomatic immunity. Can you?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

2 thoughts on “Indict Chalabi?”

  1. Betrayal

    Via Mark A. R. Kleiman, this from NYT: Those accusations remain unproven. In fact, Mr. Zubaidi said in interviews last week in Lebanon, the ominous claims by the defectors differed significantly from the versions that they had first related to…

  2. Indict Chalabi

    Mark A.R. Kleiman asks if there's any good reason why we shouldn't indict Ahmed Chalabi. We know that Chalabi lied to US intelligence agents. Kleiman notes that "18 USC 1001 makes it a felony to make a false statement or

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