Saturday, August 30, 2008

This Election Is About Judgment

[August 28] BAGHDAD — U.S. forces have arrested a deputy of Ahmad Chalabi, who was once the Bush administration's favorite Iraqi politician, and implicated him in bombings that killed Americans and Iraqis, Chalabi and Iraqi government officials said Thursday.

The U.S. military alleged that the arrested official was working with the "highest echelons" of the Iranian "special groups" criminals, referring to what the U.S. military says are Iranian-backed militias operating in Iraq.

Ali Faisal al Lami, a Shiite Muslim official and a member of the Sadrist Party who's serving as an executive of the Justice and Accountability Committee, which Chalabi heads, was arrested Wednesday at Baghdad International Airport as he returned from a family vacation in Lebanon, Iraqi officials said. The Justice and Accountability Committee screens former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party who are applying for jobs in the government.

The American military doesn't release the names of those it detains. Maj. John C. Hall, a U.S. spokesman in Baghdad said the arrested man was implicated in "multiple criminal acts including bombings and attacks against Iraqi targets" including the bombing June 24 of the Sadr City District Advisory Council meeting, which killed six Iraqis, two American soldiers and two U.S. civilians.


Chalabi condemned the arrest Thursday night. "This incident shows the need for an end to the random arrest of Iraqis by the American forces, which are against the human rights outlined in the constitution. It proves for a fact that each Iraqi might be arrested or put in prison without knowing the reasons," he said in a news release. He couldn't be reached for further comment.

From Think Progress:

A new book by Aram Roston reveals that Chalabi supported John McCain (R-AZ) for president in 2000, believing that the senator would be the most receptive to his agenda. Muckraked reports:

One of his key backers has been John McCain, who was one of the first patrons of Chalabi's grand-sounding International Committee for a Free Iraq when it was founded in 1991. McCain was Chalabi's favored candidate in the 2000 election since Chalabi knew that he would be able to free up the $97 million in military aid plus millions pushed through in Congress and earmarked for Chalabi’s exile group, the Iraqi National Congress, but held up by the Clinton State Department.

Indeed, McCain was a Chalabi backer long before President Bush took power. In 1997, he tried to pressure the Clinton administration into setting up an Iraqi government in exile. Despite opposition from the Pentagon and the State Department, the next fall, McCain co-sponsored the Iraq Liberation Act, committing the United States to overthrowing Saddam and funding opposition groups. According to a 2006 article by John Judis:

McCain welcomed Ahmed Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress (INC), to Washington and pressured the administration to give him money. When General Anthony Zinni cast doubt upon the effectiveness of the Iraqi opposition, McCain rebuked him at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee.


Also that year [2003], McCain said of Chalabi, "He's a patriot who has the best interests of his country at heart."

And McCain's an expert on patriotism.

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