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February 07, 2004

WHO IS JOHN HANNAH?....Who is John Hannah, the guy who works in the VP's office and is apparently the target of FBI suspicions in the Valerie Plame case? Juan Cole:

Hannah had fingers in all three rotten pies from which the worst intel came--Sharon's office in Israel, the Pentagon Office of Special Plans (for which Hannah served as a liaison to Cheney), and fraudster Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress. Hannah had probably been the one who fed Cheney the Niger uranium story, triggering a Cheney request to the CIA to verify it and thence Joe Wilson's trip to Niamey in spring of 2002, where he found the story to be an absurd falsehood on the face of it.

Dick Cheney's chief of staff, longtime Washington strongman Lewis "Scooter" Libby, is also a target of the investigation, and Josh Marshall noted yesterday that he's talked to plenty of people "who aren't surprised Libby would be involved in this and won't be shedding a tear if he gets brought down by it. But they feel the opposite on both counts about Hannah." Juan Cole again:

In the 90s [Hannah] for a while headed up the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a think tank that represents the interests of the American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC).

....The WINEP crowd takes no prisoners and is very determined, over decades, to get its way. (Josh Marshall notes that they are already trying to protect Hannah with denials he could possibly have been involved, presumably meaning that they would be willing to throw Libby to the dogs.)

Cole says he has talked to Richard Sale, the UPI reporter who broke this story, and that Sale assures him the information about Libby and Hannah is solid and that Sale is continuing to dig. Stay tuned.

Posted by Kevin Drum at February 7, 2004 07:44 AM | TrackBack


I think you've got this wrong Kevin. John Hannah was a Hall of Fame Guard for the New England Patriots! (World Champs I might add).

Seriously, if Libby and Hannah did this? This conservative will be happy to drive the paddy wagon carrying them to the nearest federal prison.

Posted by: spc67 at February 7, 2004 07:51 AM | PERMALINK

How utterly, utterly despicable it was of Cole to describe Chalabi as a "fraudster". Fucking disgraceful.

At enormous risk to himself and his family, Chalabi was Saddam's greatest political opponent. He was convicted in absentia by a Jordanian military tribunal. He has very plausibly detailed his innocence.

ANYBODY with a shred of decency would look at that conviction with a great deal of scepticism.

Since when do "liberals" uncritically accept the word of kangaroo courts against political opponents in corrupt despotic arab dictatorships as gospel truth? Since it suits their political aims I guess.

Let's be honest here - Chalabi's sin is for being perceived as being on Bush's side. That's enough to get anyone tarred and feathered.


Posted by: am at February 7, 2004 08:08 AM | PERMALINK

Chalabi's conviction long predates his "rise" as saddams's opponent, saddam had many other opponents, and the court that tried him was the usual court trying such offences in Jordan at the time. And, one might add, the proof of the pudding is in the eating: Chalabi has done very little to argue for substantive democracy and freedom in Iraq, his information has all turned out to be false, and he is neither well liked nor well regarded insideIraq. Exactly how long will this sham political figure get a pass for fomenting the deaths of hundreds of american soldiers just so he could get back into bagdhad at the head of an army. There are many famous and important political leaders who have been convicted, unjustly, of crimes and who have served time in prison (justly or unjustly) for their political beliefs. Mandela is one, chalabi is not one.


Posted by: aimai at February 7, 2004 08:13 AM | PERMALINK

It increasingly appears the Israel and the INC played a major part in the mis-information that led up to the war. David Brooks, who I normally don't pay much attention to, said the real intelligence failure may have been that Saddam had become detached and the government was falling apart on it's own. Has anyone heard this anywhere else?

Posted by: Ron in Portland at February 7, 2004 08:19 AM | PERMALINK

aimia: rubbish. Chalabi's "trial" was in 1989. He was active against Saddam at least five years before that.

Posted by: am at February 7, 2004 08:25 AM | PERMALINK

btw, don't you think opposing Saddam was a good thing? Do you have *anything* good at all to say about him? Or is it all just sneer and smear?

Posted by: am at February 7, 2004 08:26 AM | PERMALINK

At enormous risk to himself and his family, Chalabi was Saddam's greatest political opponent.

How 'bout backing both these claims up with some citation? What was the enormous risk faced in exile, and was he really Saddam's greatest opponent?

Posted by: NTodd at February 7, 2004 08:29 AM | PERMALINK

Juan Cole's site is one of the best on the web. Always start there first for reliable Mid-Eastern affairs information.

Kevin, it's to your credit for having cited him and, no, I don't know him from Adam.

Posted by: John W at February 7, 2004 08:35 AM | PERMALINK

In re Chalabi, this am is playing to sucker to the Chalabi agitprop machine.

As a financial specialist involved in the Middle East, let me point out that the issue on which Chalabi was convicted c. 89 was one of inadequate capital reserves and fraudulent currency transations. While yes, it was a security tribunal that convicted Chalabi in Jordan (not atypical at this time period), no such charade of an excuse covers the contemporaneous Swiss actions against Chalabi family bank interests in that country for essentially the same issues.

I may further add that I am utterly unaware of Chalabi anti-Sadaam activities prior to the post-Gulf War II (90-91) era. In addition, one notes the US Department of State and CIA conclusions that Chalabi misappropriated US funds during the 1990s. There is quite a record out there for those willing to look.

Posted by: collounsbury at February 7, 2004 08:40 AM | PERMALINK

Fire up the wagon, spc.

Posted by: poputonian at February 7, 2004 08:48 AM | PERMALINK

Hannah + Sharon = US Media Blackout. It seems all the juicy conspiracies are coming true these days.

Posted by: Gatchaman at February 7, 2004 08:50 AM | PERMALINK

To all: Go the the New York Review of Books site and read the articles in the latest edition regarding the Bushes (Krugman) and the war, especially about the role the press played in the run-up to war.

Interesting stuff.

Posted by: bobbyp at February 7, 2004 08:58 AM | PERMALINK

Wow, a Chalabi defender. I guess they still exist.

Posted by: JakeV at February 7, 2004 09:25 AM | PERMALINK

I thought you guys usually referred to the UPI and Washington Times as evil right-wing publications.

Now you want to trumpet their reporting? I love it.

Here's a clue... the leaks are from people who want to have Cheney dumped from the ticket and replaced with someone who can help Bush get re-elected.

Ahhh, yes, Rudie Giuliani emerging at the GOP convention in NEW YORK CITY as the new VP. Haha, I love it. Keep pushing. Please.

Posted by: Right-Wing Vegetarian at February 7, 2004 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

re Chalabi as 'fraudster': It's a perfectly legitimate description. Putting aside the Jordanian embezzling conviction, 'fraud' fits his role in passing bogus information to the CIA and the Defense Department. This month's Mother Jones has a detailed story on the 'whack Iraq' intel shop and the Office of Special Plans at the Pentagon. Well worth a read, it captures what it's like to have to work in the same arena as neocons with power.

Posted by: Nell Lancaster at February 7, 2004 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

Ahhh, yes, Rudie Giuliani emerging at the GOP convention in NEW YORK CITY as the new VP. Haha, I love it. Keep pushing. Please.

That's it? That's your secret plan to win the election? You think that will overcome a jobless "recovery" and an increasingly unpopular war (blogwhore)?

Still, credit where credit's due. It is interesting to see this in the UPI. I don't know if it's one of those "even the UPI is reporting this bad news" things, or could it be mis/disinformation coming from the Moonies? I remember around the time of the "16 words" imbroglio, the UPI reported that the 9/11 commission's report would show no link between Saddam and AQ--that was a bit of an overstatement.

Anyway, I certainly take this with a grain of salt. Does anybody know if this Richard Sale is a decent reporter?

Posted by: NTodd at February 7, 2004 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

We gained 116,000 jobs last month, and the unemployment rate keeps going down. That talking point won't fly.

We're finally emerging from the Clinton/Bin Laden recession.

You should have nominated someone serious about national defense and who wasn't a bagman for special interests. I and other libertarian-leaning Republicans would have stood on the sidelines.

Posted by: Right-Wing Vegetarian at February 7, 2004 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

We gained 116,000 jobs last month, and the unemployment rate keeps going down. That talking point won't fly.

It was 112k jobs, and unemployment went down 74k--alas, not enough to keep up with new entrants into the workforce. Too bad the number of people unemployed for more than 27 weeks actually grew (as is 3 times what it was in December 2000). I'm also wondering where the 1.4M jobs Bush promised are?

Sorry, but when people look at their own current job situ, it ain't pretty.

Sorry to be OT...

Posted by: NTodd at February 7, 2004 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

You should have nominated someone serious about national defense and who wasn't a bagman for special interests.

Well, that eliminates George W Bush then...


Posted by: Anarch at February 7, 2004 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

Back to something resembling the topic:

Anyway, I certainly take this with a grain of salt. Does anybody know if this Richard Sale is a decent reporter?

Juan Cole has nice things to say about him in the post Kevin linked to, NTodd, but I don't know if that's newfound appreciation or long-standing admiration. Might be worth dropping him a line...

Posted by: Anarch at February 7, 2004 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

It increasingly appears the Israel and the INC played a major part in the mis-information that led up to the war.

I don't think Israel played much of a role, they didn't claim to have much in the ways of intelligence on Iraq that the administration didn't dig up/cherry-pick/invent from other sources. Various Iraqi defectors associated with the INC clearly played a large role in telling administration officials what they wanted to hear, particularly about how easy the post-Saddam reconstruction would be.

Posted by: Haggai at February 7, 2004 03:30 PM | PERMALINK

1. Getting to the Plame part of all this: The apologists say that "everyone inside the beltway knew" what sort of operative she was, so it wasn't such a big deal. But who has actually scouted this out? I suspect it's phony, but I'd like to hear from people who know. (The CIA people aren't happy about it in any case.) 1.b: the silly blow-off by certain bloggers and radio hacks, that the Plame business is "bogus" because Ms. Plame sported around in Vanity Fair, etc. I have news: however oddly a target of some crap behaves, it was still wrong to do it to them.

2. To am: Chalabi's real sin was funneling bogus WMD intel to the OSP and such. "No humit" my eye - they had plenty, it was just wrong (and predictably compromised by conflict of interest.) Tar and feather and run the whole crew out of town on a rail.

Posted by: Neil at February 7, 2004 05:00 PM | PERMALINK

Get 'clued in' on the CIA leak probe

Bush's Worst Enemy

When Ambassador Joseph Wilson speaks of the White House, he tries to take the high road. "It's hard to imagine the government being irrational," he told me over the telephone on Monday afternoon, "and revenge is an irrational act." One breath later, however, Wilson showed why the Bush administration has a great deal to be worried about. "If they thought I was going to go away after they raped my wife," said Wilson, "they were dead wrong."

The White House lied. George W. Bush lied. Dick Cheney lied. Don Rumsfeld lied. Ari Fleischer, perhaps predictably, lied. Joseph Wilson called them on just one of their lies, and that same White House reached out and destroyed his wife's career in order to protect itself politically, and to warn any other whistleblowers that public criticism might well amount to complete personal destruction. In doing so, the White House trashed an intelligence network that was working to keep weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of terrorists.

Why Did Attorney General Ashcroft Remove Himself From The Valerie Plame Wilson Leak Investigation?
Signs that a Key Witness May Have Come Forward
Jan 6, 2004

Grand Jury Hears Plame Case
By John Dickerson and Viveca Novack
Thursday 22 January 2004

White House may be probed on CIA leak
Mon, Jan. 26, 2004

Cheney's Staff Focus of Probe
Posted Feb. 5, 2004
By Richard Sale

Posted by: Steve at February 7, 2004 07:15 PM | PERMALINK

In the late 80's Chalabi was asked to appear before some Jordinian something or other to explain certain currency transactions, and he responded by getting out of the country in the trunk of a car. That was why he was tried in absentia. He was represented by counsel at every stage of the proceeding. I've never heard of anything that suggests his Jordinian criminal conviction was anything to be questioned.

Posted by: Diana at February 7, 2004 10:11 PM | PERMALINK

Tony Blankley (with a VERY sour expression on his face) confirmed that the indictments are coming "soon" on the latest McLaughlin Group. Also, broke this story a few months ago:

So did Salon, as I recall.

Posted by: Justin Raimondo at February 7, 2004 11:10 PM | PERMALINK

In re the Chalabi, operating from memory, the Jordanian Central Bank called on all Jordanian banks to raise their capital reserves - in the face of an emerging currency crisis with nothing to do with Iraq etc. - and Petra Bank, Chalabi's bank, was the only one unable to respond to the call.

At that point the investigation began, Chalabi skipped town early on. Possibly with the collusion of his good amigo, the King's brother, although as far as I know this is unconfirmed.

I work closely with Jordanian banking circles and I can say that in addition to the contemporaneous corroborating action by the Swiss authorities (no direction connection to the Jordanian events, but the events were similar), I have never heard anything supporting Chalabi story about Sadaam from informed operators here.

I recall that the US Congressional Research Service actually has a contemporaneous report on these events (in re Petra bank and the financial crisis) c. late 1989 which is available on their site, for those who may want to actually understand the financial crisis and the context of the collapse of the Petra Bank, rather than lapping up pre-digested agitprop from Chalabi and his financially illiterate Neo-Con dupes who don't know how to do proper due diligence.

Posted by: collounsbury at February 8, 2004 02:27 AM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: fioricet at August 23, 2004 06:12 PM | PERMALINK
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