Chalabi Cons His Way to the Top, Americans Don't Mind

It's not just incredible Laura. THIS IS INSANE. Judith Miller plugging Chalabi in this way???!!! AMAZING! [via Laura Rozen]

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This really is pretty incredible. From Jack Shafer's Slate column today, via Atrios:

[MSNBC Hardball host, Chris] Matthews: Wait a minute. When you say—Judy, when you say administration, do you mean the alliance party leadership or Allawi over there, the current prime minister? Who are you talking about?

[NYT reporter Judith] Miller: We are talking about the administration officials who have been reaching out to …

Matthews: You mean Americans?

Miller: ... [Ayatollah] Sistani's—yes, American officials who have been reaching out to Sistani's party. Because Dr. Chalabi is on that list.

Matthews: So where—so we have an election over there. And the same day we're holding an election, the same week, we are plotting which ministries to give to Chalabi, the guy who talked us into the war in the first place.

Miller: No, no. There were expressions. There was apparently an effort to determine whether or not he would be interested in assuming a certain portfolio.

Matthews: Why are we in the business of deciding or even negotiating cabinet ministries in a foreign government?

Miller: No. Well, you know, Chris, first of all, this is just one report. But I think what is very clear, according to people I talked to today, is that they have been attempting to mend fences with him. Now understanding that as a tent [phonetic transcription] on that Sistani list, the Shia list, he will be an important person in Iraq. And I think that there will have to be a lot of rethinking on the part of the Americans with whom they want to deal.

Matthews: … the idea that the man who won his country back through the vice president's office, Ahmed Chalabi, finds his way now through all this electoral process to end up as oil minister or finance minister, as you say, interior minister—and I think he has higher ambitions than that—makes the electoral process come down to the guy who started the war, ends up winning the war, irregardless of how people vote over there.

Miller: Well, you know, I think the interesting thing was the up and down, was the kind of rise and fall of Ahmed Chalabi in this administration. On one hand, in the beginning, he was the person supported adamantly by the Defense Department. He was opposed by the State Department and the CIA …

Matthews: Right.

Miller: ... who said he had no popular support in the country...

Matthews: Right.

Miller: ... and he wouldn't be able to hold a coalition together. We've now seen that, in fact, he played a pivotal role in putting together, helping to put together the list which we don't know yet, but it may very well have done extremely well, if not won the vote.

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