To review, the US started the week by cutting off funding to Chalabi's group (to the tune of $340,000 per month). That's some stipend, eh?
Today, US forces have raided Chalabi's house in Baghdad (though one report said it was his office) and carted off boxes full of files. Here's what he said in response:
Hours after the raid, Chalabi repudiated the American occupation authority and declared himself a leader of the new Iraq.That sounds like a complete fissure in the relationship.
"My relationship with the Coalition Provisional Authority doesn't exist."
That would be huge, because just three months ago Chalabi was so connected to the Pentagon that he was willing for the INC to take the fall for the faked intelligence. Then again, strong evidence suggests that the INC was responsible for much of the bad WMD intelligence.
But, Dreyfuss says it is a trick -- and quotes a neocon, Michael Rubin, formerly in the Pentagon, now at AEI, who says so:
"By telegraphing that he is not the favorite son of America, the administration will bolster him, showing he is his own man."Here's Dreyfuss's final paragraph:
In other words, it’s all a big con game. The still-neocon-dominated Pentagon—which this week stopped funding Chalabi’s INC —is playing its last card, hoping that it can boost Chalabi’s sagging fortunes by pretending to sever ties with him. That, the neocons hope, will allow Chalabi to strengthen his ties to Sistani, the king-making mullah who, they hope, holds Iraq’s fate in his wrinkled hands.My guess is that some politicos at the Pentagon spent some recent time watching "House of Games," "The Sting," "Matchstick Men" and other flicks about confidence games and, as I said, decided to emphasize the con in neocon.
How can you blame them? I love this genre, and would probably toss in "A Big Hand for the Little Lady."
Moreover, the time may be right. As one of my old debate coaches used to say, "When it's fourth-and-long, and you're behind late in the game...throw deep."
For more info about the neocons and the INC, check out Laura Rozen's new piece in the American Prospect. I know people are interested in this stuff since I get several hits every week for my early February blog entry highlighting the known links among neocon Michael Ledeen, Iran-contra figure (and con man) Manucher Ghorbanifar, and the Niger-uranium story. Rozen mentions these figures in passing, along with the DoD's Doug Feith (who may yet be punished for leaking a widely repudiated memo about alleged Iraq-al Qaeda links).