“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Friday, May 23, 2003


Chalabi is, reportedly, a man who likes to play close to the edge. He has a habit of going over it without a parachute. Perhaps he did it again when he attacked Al - Jazeera and the Jordan government with papers the INC had gathered from Saddam's files.

Saddam's files are truly amazing things. They pop up here, labelled in big magic marker, George Galloway bribery papers; they pop up there labelled Al -Jazeera, our contacts in. But where, pray tell, is the folder entitled, Donald Rumsfeld, talks with, 1984; or George Herbert Walker Bush, covert aid supplied by, 1932-1989? I guess those papers just incinerated. And guess what? Neither the Times of London or New York, neither the Daily Telegraph nor the Washington Post, are looking very hard for them.

Although I'd guess, just guess, that the US Military did look for those state secrets.

Well, Chalabi's problem is that he depends too much on the kindness of strangers -- who he then rips off. So, mistaking himself for Donald Rumsfeld, he paper rattled in the direction of Amman. He forgot that Amman can paper rattle back. The Wall Street Journal just got a look at some documents released by the Jordanians in re the case of Petra Bank.

The WSJ report does not show Chalabi as a corrupt man -- rather, he was a businessman in a hurry. And like many such businessmen, he succumbed to the temptation to inflate his business, which required doing an increasing amount of shady legwork inside the business. Plus, he seems to have smuggled money to his family. Two point six million dollars that the bank earned for instance, for snagging a loan to Sudan would be diverted to the Chalabi brothers' pockets. Arthur Anderson audited the bank after Chalabi fled:

"Now in control of Petra Bank, Jordanian authorities asked for an audit. Four months later, Arthur Andersen accountants declared the bank insolvent. Shareholder equity wasn't $50 million as reported, their 267-page report said, but a negative $268 million. They said an additional, hard-to-explain $158 million had flowed out but not come back. Much of that involved "transactions with parties related to the former management of the bank," it said."

Oh my. We do wonder how Chris Hitchens, Chalabi's main press supporter in this country, is going to explain this. In his last column on this subject, Hitchens let slip the fact that Iraq was a partner in the bank. Wow. If this is true, Chalabi, like his friend, Donald Rumsfeld, was working with Saddam in the nerve gas eighties. Since Hitchens didn't footnote his source, we don't know if he learned this from Chalabi himself, but it is a promising clue to Chalabi's sudden interest in overthrowing Saddam.

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