CHALABI AND THE IRANIANS….Last year Josh Marshall noted something interesting about Ahmed Chalabi. Back in 1996, when the CIA was planning a coup attempt against Saddam Hussein, Chalabi warned them off of it because, he said, Saddam already knew about the plot. Josh, however, said that the CIA believed that it was Chalabi himself who spilled the beans about the CIA’s operation. Chalabi was upset because he himself wasn’t involved in the coup and therefore didn’t want it to succeed.

Today, Walter Pincus and Bradley Graham of the Washington Post tell a similar story about an earlier assassination attempt against Saddam:

Officials yesterday recounted an incident in early 1995 when Chalabi’s name turned up in an encrypted Iranian cable reporting a purported CIA-backed plan to assassinate Saddam Hussein, then Iraq’s president. The message was intercepted by U.S. intelligence and caused a major political stir in Washington.

This is all murky stuff, but if it’s true we now have three separate cases of Chalabi leaking ultra-sensitive information to the Iranians. Read the whole Post story for more details.

UPDATE: By the way, the fact that CIA sources seem to be retailing these stories all over Washington suggests that they really are involved in a campaign to discredit Chalabi. That doesn’t mean they’re wrong, of course, but it does mean that there’s a bureaucratic war going on and all charges and countercharges should be treated with an appropriate degree of skepticism.