THE DECLINE OF PUPPETRY….Jeez, they don’t make puppets like they used to, do they? Last November, the Pentagon’s favorite Iraqi exile puppet, Ahmed Chalabi, displayed a rare moment of honesty while commenting on the Bush administration’s insistence that power had to be handed over to Iraqis on June 30 no matter what:

The whole thing was set up so President Bush could come to the airport in October for a ceremony to congratulate the new Iraqi government. When you work backwards from that, you understand the dates the Americans were insisting on.

Then, last week, responding to criticism that pretty much every piece of intelligence Chalabi provided on Iraqi WMD during the 90s has turned out to be fabricated, he said this:

What was said before is not important. The Bush administration is looking for a scapegoat. We’re ready to fall on our swords if he wants.

How to say this nicely? You’re supposed to stay loyal to the people you’ve duped into spending billions of dollars and hundred of lives to liberate your country. And you’re definitely not supposed to admit that the entire thing has been driven by crass political considerations and outright lies on both sides.

Is this part of some even deeper scheming on Chalabi’s part that isn’t apparent on the surface? Is he unable to control his fury that the U.S. didn’t simply install him as ruler of Iraq last summer? Or is he just not very bright as puppets go?

Take your pick.