Just got back from chatting with a fugitive from justice. That would be Francis Brooke, Ahmed Chalabi's man in Washington and the head of the Information Collection Program -- the Iraqi National Congress's $340,000-a-month intelligence venture
with the Bush administration. Recently, Zuhair al-Maliki of the Central Criminal Court of Iraq (he's "not really a judge," says Brooke) issued a warrant for Brooke's arrest on charges of obstruction of justice in connection with the May 20 raid
on Chalabi's Baghdad compound. Brooke proclaims his innocence and won't take the matter lying down. He's trying to organize a trip back to Iraq--he even says he wants to bring his wife and kids--so he can clear his name. (One option he's considering is to enter Iraq after flying into Tehran, which has a kind of poetic justice to it, given that Chalabi is suspected of double-dealing with the Iranians
. "Right in their face!" Brooke exclaims, cheerfully pumping his fist.)
"What I'd like to do is just present myself to the court as expeditiously as possible," he says. "There's a charge against me. I have no intention of living as a fugitive. I have confidence in the Iraqi justice system." That confidence isn't shared by his INC colleague Entifadh Qanbar, who also found himself on the receiving end of a warrant. "Until I find out that I'll receive due process I'm not going to turn myself in," Qanbar told The Washington Post
That isn't the only thing Brooke wants to clarify. About the charge that fugitive INC intelligence chief Aras Habib Karem worked for Iranian intelligence, he says, "It is baseless. The best way to look at it is to look at his relationship with United States intelligence, or his relationship with Turkish intelligence, Syrian intelligence, Kuwaiti intelligence, Jordanian intelligence. He is an Iraqi intelligence officer. He is representing Iraqi interests."
"He has liaison relationships with many intelligence services, including, at many times, with the United States. But he never
works for no one
. He has a liaison relationship with them"--that is, the Iranians--"in that we cooperate on issues that we agree with them on. We both hated Saddam. No question about it. We both opposed Saddam's domination of Iraq. And on those kinds of issues, we cooperated, no question--the same way we did with the government of the United States."
Hope that clears everything up. Iranian employee? Baseless. Iranian "liaison"? "Liaison relationship, that's right, we don't deny it."