Dexter Filkins, the longtime New York Times Baghdad correspondent, takes the cover of the NYT mag this upcoming weekend with a profile of Ahmad Chalabi, Iraqi politician, CIA source, and all-around slippery fish.
In the profile, Chalabi denies–”This is an urban myth”– that he mislead the Bush administration about W.M.D.s. Chalabi also says that the Iraqi defectors that he provided to U.S. agents for intel on Iraq’s Hussein regime were pretty much random guys that Chalabi wouldn’t vouch for at all.
And how does he think the occupation of Iraq is going? “The Americans screwed it up,” says Chalabi.
But what of Chalabi’s role in the overtures to a war?
Filkins writes: “It was Chalabi, after all–a foreigner, an Arab–who persuaded the most powerful men and women in the United States to make the liberation of Iraq not merely a priority but an obsession. …. Chalabi [persuaded] the Bush administration of the necessity of using force to destroy Saddam Huseein. And when it all went bad, when those nuclear weapons never turned up, the clever child shrugged and smiled.”
“When no W.M.D. turned up, more and more Americans came to blame Chalabi for the war,” is how Filkins puts it.
Only once does the role of the Times in the lead-up to the war explicitly crop up.
There is one parenthetical expression, which begins: “A New York Times reporter, Judith Miller, was one of Chalabi’s primary conduits….”
That done, Filkins writes: “Indeed, the press proved even more gullible than the intelligence experts in the American government.”