Stupidly, though, I opened The Kansas City Star's editorial page. There, in an "As I See It" column, Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback spewed a few Republican National Committee talking points about how we've been "relatively successful in bringing the fight to the terrorists wherever they emerge." Then he threw in some immoral, hypocritical culture-of-life rhetoric: "We should have no tolerance for those who authorize murder and glorify death."
Follow your own advice, Mr. Brownback you, the rest of Congress and the president authorized the murder of thousands of U.S. soldiers and countless civilians in a country that had nothing to do with 9/11.
Draping a flag over a coffin glorifies death, doesn't it?
Here's what I'd like Brownback to write a newspaper column about. I'd like him to write about his affair with Ahmad Chalabi, the Iraqi opposition leader who fed U.S. intelligence agencies so much pig slop that they finally called bullshit themselves. Today, though, when Bush talks about all of his reasons for invading Iraq, he still sounds like he's reading Chalabi's script.
I decided to mark the 9/11 anniversary by reading a U.S. Senate report released the previous Friday. On September 8, the Select Committee on Intelligence, chaired by Kansas' other senator, Pat Roberts, issued "The Use by the Intelligence Community of Information Provided by the Iraqi National Congress."
Despite its tedious title, it's not bad reading. (You can find it on the Web at http://intelligence.senate.gov/phasei iinc.pdf.) Actually, it's sort of entertaining basically a 211-page recap of testimony that Roberts' committee heard in an effort to figure out whether the country was fooled by Chalabi and his organization, the Iraqi National Congress. We hear about all the information supplied by Chalabi; 18 other anonymous sources; and some dude named CURVEBALL. Former CIA director George Tenet testifies that by January 1997, the agency had decided that Chalabi was worthless. "There was a breakdown of trust," Tenet testified this past July, "and we never wanted to have anything to do with him anymore."
As it turns out, though and as the report makes sickeningly clear Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell parroted Chalabi's big talk to sell the country on invading Iraq.
Brownback was one of Chalabi's biggest fans. That's no secret it's there for everyone to read in press releases still archived on the senator's Web site. One of them, headlined "Brownback Calls for Decisive Action to Remove Saddam From Power," was written in June 1999 a couple of years after the CIA figured out Chalabi was a fraud. It argues: "We, the United States, need to put all of our power and prestige behind one unified group [i.e., Chalabi's INC], which could then present a real threat to Saddam Hussein on the ground." Among the witnesses there to help Brownback make his point: Chalabi.
Brownback was still pimping Chalabi three years later, in 2002. A press release from October 2 that year says it all:
"I am pleased to be here today with members of various Iraqi opposition groups. These gentlemen have been working closely with the administration and will be invaluable in the fight to rid the world of Saddam's threat.... With their help, the U.S. could do a great deal toward affecting regime change with a relatively small military footprint."
Five months later, the United States invaded Iraq.
By May 2004, though, Brownback's love was gone. Baghdad police stormed Chalabi's home, Chalabi said the raid was politically motivated, and Brownback told news outlets that he hadn't spoken to Chalabi in a couple of months. That October, when Pitch reporter Kendrick Blackwood caught up with Brownback at a restaurant in Garnett, Kansas, the senator wasn't particularly apologetic.
"You look at it now. It's like looking at Iraq and saying, Well, where are the weapons of mass destruction? You deal with the best information you have at the time," Brownback told Blackwood ("Bosom Buddies," October 28, 2004).
Hey, Pious Sam, how about an "As I See It" recapping how much of an idiot you were?
We'll be freezing in hell when that happens, of course. Bad intel from Chalabi and his INC really had nothing to do with the war. Just ask the head of the committee that wrote the Chalabi report Kansas Sen. Roberts.
At the end of the report, Chairman Roberts and a few other Republican loyalists squeal that their conclusions which look mighty bad for the president are just plain wrong. Roberts tries to debunk "myths" promulgated by the media about the INC's role in the runup to the war, pointing out that his committee's report proves that the intelligence community didn't believe what the INC said anyway.
But there's one giant flaw in Roberts' logic.
You see, the committee has tons of information on what the intelligence agencies thought of Chalabi and his INC. It apparently knows nothing about what George W. Bush thought about Chalabi.
That's because, the report says, Roberts' committee refused to ask the White House for documents and "raw intelligence" it had been provided "through separate channels established by the INC that circumvented the intelligence community's vetting process altogether."
Even if those "separate channels" didn't run through Brownback's office, they came close enough. Like Brownback said in his own press release: I am pleased to be here today with members of various Iraqi opposition groups. These gentlemen have been working closely with the administration and will be invaluable in the fight to rid the world of Saddam's threat.
That much they accomplished. Chalabi didn't care about much else, according to Roberts' committee's report: "When asked by the press in February 2004 about charges that the INC had deliberately misled the intelligence community, Chalabi, leader of the INC, replied, 'We are heroes in error. As far as we're concerned, we've been entirely successful. That tyrant Saddam is gone, and the Americans are in Baghdad. What was said before is not important.'"
Happy anniversary, Sam. As of today, how many Kansans have died in Iraq?