Stratfor chief provides key links to Chalabi/fake WMD intelligence/Office of Special Plans story: Iran, indeed!

I got several books from Amazon this weekend that distracted me from the much-belated homework that is increasing before finals time. I started reading George Friedman's "America's Secret War," an unparalleled tome of wisdom about the late great War on Terror, intelligence agencies and what I'd like to talk about today: how the Bush administration knowingly sold false intelligence, mainly provided by Ahmed Chalabi, mostly about WMD, to the American public.

Now you might say, "That's old news" or "What? Chalabi lied?!" but this particular book is different, because Friedman is one of the founders of STRATFOR, an amazing organization kind of like a 'private CIA' that sells intelligence (strategic forecasting) to businesses and whoever else. They provide a free page of information every week, and it is always interesting. (Right now it's all about the Ukraine stuff)

Anyhow, Friedman's book turns a lot of things inside out for a more rational view of what exactly has propelled the U.S. to invade Iraq. It stresses how the points of view of various intelligence agencies are very important to understanding how events unfold. Fortunately, they've got a lot of the inside dirt on this.

The book's jacket claims to address "the real reasons behind George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq, and how WMD became the cover for a much deeper game." I have been one of those folks who believed that the WMD stuff was so overtly fake that someone should go to prison about it, but Friedman lays out how the guys in the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans basically knew this stuff was baloney, but sold it anyway.

The real reason we invaded, according to the book, was to cajole the Saudi government into cracking down on the Al Qaeda movement thoroughly in its midst. However, this had to be covered up because the American public wouldn't support that. Blockquoth Friedman (p 250-1):

Iran wanted the United States to invade Iraq. It did everything to induce the United States to do so. Its strategy was to provide the United States with intelligence that would persuade the United States that the invasion was both practical and necessary. There were many intelligence channels operating between Teheran and the United States, but the single most important was Ahmed Chalabi, the Defense Department's candidate for President of Iraq. Chalabi... was the head of the Iraqi National Council, which provided key intelligence to the United states on Iraq, including on WMD. But what it did not provide the U.S. was most important: intelligence on Iranian operations in Iraq or on Iraqi preparations for a guerrilla war. Chalabi made it look easy. That's what the Iranians wanted.

The primary vector for Chalabi's information was not the CIA, but the [Pentagon's Office of Special Plans] under Abe Shulsky. OSP could not have missed Chalabi's Iranian ties, nor could they have believed the positive intelligence he was giving them. But OSP and Shulsky were playing a deeper game. These were old Cold Warriors. For them, the key to the collapse of the Soviet Union was the American alliance with China. Splitting the enemy was the way to go, and the fault line in the Islamic world was the Sunni-Shiite split. The United States, from their point of view, was not playing the fool by accommodating Iran's wishes on Iraq. Apart from all of its other virtues, they felt that the invasion would create a confluence of interests between the U.S. and Iran, which would have enormously more value in the long run than any problems posed by the Iraqi invasion. From the standpoint of OSP—and therefore of Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld—Chalabi's intelligence or lack of it was immaterial. The key was alignment with Iran as another lever against Saudi Arabia. And there were more immediate effects as well...

You can judge for yourself whether Dr. Khalidi's statements to me about Chalabi, the Office of Special Plans and the faked intelligence in an interview last October fit into this framework or not. I think the interview still holds up real well. Friedman adds that "the entire point of the WMD rationale was to put France in a position where it could not reasonably object to the undertaking [i.e. the war]. (p 272)" There's more to how they actually argued the case to the American public—an interesting thing for any rhetorician to look at—but for now this is what I feel like typing in.

Well, that's really more of a metal helmet than a tinfoil hat theory. Coming up in a sec, we will return to Votergate. In the meantime, now you finally know a key underpinning of the war's rationale. Not bad, eh? I'll talk more on this book later, to be sure!

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