CHALABI YET AGAIN….Via Tapped, Newsweek has an interesting tidbit today about the disastrous decision to disband the Iraqi army after Paul Bremer took over from Jay Garner shortly after the end of the war. Who made the decision ? and why?

Administration officials said today that this decision was made on the ground in Iraq, rather than in Washington.

….But Bremer and Garner have previously indicated the decision was made in Washington. According to one official who attended a meeting that Bremer had with his staff upon his arrival in Baghdad in mid-May of 2003, Bremer was warned he would cause chaos by demobilizing the army. The CIA station chief told him, “That’s another 350,000 Iraqis you’re pissing off, and they’ve got guns.”

According to one source who was at the meeting, Garner then asked if they could discuss the matter further in a smaller meeting. Garner then said: ?Before you announce this thing let?s do all the pros and cons of this, because we are going to have a hell of a lot of problems with it. There are a hell of a lot more cons than there are pros. Let?s line them all up then get on the phone to [Defense Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld.? Bremer replied: ?I don?t have any choice. I have to do this.? Garner then protested further, but Bremer cut him off. ?The president told me that de-Baathification comes before the immediate needs of the Iraqi people.?

When Newsweek put this account to Bremer in a tape-recorded interview at the Pentagon at the end of September of last year, he did not dispute it. A former official with Bremer?s Coalition Provisional Authority also told Newsweek on Wednesday that ?he did this with the full knowledge of the administration.?

Charming. “De-Baathification comes before the immediate needs of the Iraqi people.”

Of course, that begs the question: why did de-Baathification come before the immediate needs of the Iraqi people? Sure, George Bush bears ultimate responsibility, but who was it that felt that strongly about de-Baathification and had the influence to get it adopted as official policy?

There’s really only one candidate: our old friend Ahmed Chalabi and his neocon friends in the Pentagon. As it stands now, it appears that Chalabi (a) deliberately fed us bad prewar intelligence about Iraqi WMD, (b) convinced us to disband the Iraqi army as part of a personal power play, (c) may have betrayed highly sensitive U.S. secrets to the Iranian government, and (d) is playing footsie with insurgent leader Muqtada al-Sadr. And that’s just the highlights.

Has there ever been a single interest group leader more disastrous to U.S. foreign policy and prestige than Ahmed Chalabi? How far back do you have to go to find someone even in the same league? He makes William Randolph Hearst look like a kid in a sandbox.

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