A couple thoughts on the charges against Chalabi.
Chalabi's advocates are arguing that the case against him simply makes no sense. If Chalabi had told this Iranian in Baghdad that we'd cracked one of their codes, why would he turn around and use that code to inform his masters in Tehran?
My answer? Good question. I have no idea.
Reports suggest that the Iranian agent didn't believe Chalabi. And perhaps this is the explanation. Sloppiness could be another. In my mind, however, the key is we -- i.e., we on the outside -- are dealing with extremely fragmentary and limited information.
Most of the details we simply don't know.
Since that's the case we're just not in much of a position to outlogic the counter-espionage people who've decided to take this seriously. And notwithstanding all the stuff we've heard about incompetence in our intelligence community, these folks aren't fools. If the story so obviously made no sense that any chat show oaf could tear it apart, I don't think they'd be taking it as seriously as they are.
The other argument, of course, from the Chalabites is that Chalabi's enemies at the CIA have seized on obviously bogus or questionable intelligence to neutralize him because of their long-standing hostility to him. Basically, they argue, this is just his enemies using an excuse to destroy him.
In my mind, two facts argue against this hypothesis. The first is that people on the inside -- people who know the relevant facts -- and who are either indifferent to or friendly to Chalabi seem to be taking this very seriously. If it was so obviously trumped up, I doubt they would do so.
The second point goes more to the root of the claim. Every charge we've ever heard about Chalabi -- going back almost a decade now -- has been answered by his friends with claims that the CIA or the State Department simply has it out for him because they don't believe he can be controlled and that they're against the 'democracy' that Chalabi represents.
They on the other hand maintained that they just thought Chalabi was a liar and a crook and that we shouldn't have anything to do with him.
At this point, who has the better part of that argument? The Chalabites or the CIA/State? Right. Pretty much answers itself, doesn't it?
One other point, the word I've heard from several Chalabi-friendly sources with good contacts on the inside doesn't throw doubt on the charges against Chalabi so much as it suggests that someone at the CIA or elsewhere in the Intelligence Community might be responsible for the leak to Chalabi. I think that's inherently implausible. But I think that tells us a lot about how seriously we should take claims that Chalabi is being set up.