Forced to choose between acknowledging Ahmed Chalabi’s double-dealing and denouncing actions taken by the United States in Iraq as violations of international law, some of the neocons are sticking with their buddy.

Ahmed Chalabi and his nephew claim that charges of murder and counterfeiting against them were trumped up by Baathist forces. His defender Michael Rubin of the AEI, on the other hand, blames it all on Paul Bremer. Could they both be right? Was Bremer an agent of Saddam Hussein. You have to admit, that would explain a lot.

Seriously, though, isn’t it astonishing the lengths to which Chalabi’s American friends — it’s hard to know whether to call them his dupes or his accomplices, though it’s always possible that they’re some of each — will go to defend him, even if it means attacking their own government? Note that Rubin thinks that Bremer’s action in establishing the court overstepped the bounds set for occupying powers by the Geneva Conventions. Maybe he’s right, as a matter of international law, but is it really for the supporters of the Iraq adventure to be carping about such technicalities? And if course if the current, allegedly sovereign Iraqi regime thinks the court is unconstitutional, it can always say so.

Note that the elder Chalabi is “vacationing” in Iran, while the younger says he won’t turn himself in until given assurances about his personal safety. I think the technical term is “fugitive from justice;” of course, that’s a status Ahmed Chalabi is used to, having been on the lam from a Jordanian fraud conviction for two decades now.

I especially love Ahmed Chalabi’s excuse for the counterfeit money found in his office when it was raised: it had been previously seized by Iraqi police, and he had possession of it in his role as the chair of the committee of the IGC supervising the Central Bank. Right. Nothing more natural than for contraband evidence in a criminal case to be held in a politiician’s office.

Today’s NY Times story finally provides the key to the puzzle by stating a fact presumably known to the experts but unknown to many newspaper readers, including the undersigned: historically, Chalabi has been the Pentagon’s guy and Allawi the CIA’s guy.

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:

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