Fresh off this past weekend's return trip to Tehran, neocon darling Ahmad Chalabi hits Washington today -- his first visit to the nation's capital in over two years.
He's got a very busy schedule planned, including meetings with Condi Rice, Treasury Secretary John Snow, and national security advisor Stephen Hadley.
There is also talk of a possible private meeting with his longtime champion, Dick Cheney. No word on where the Cheney/Chalabi reunion might take place. Perhaps at one of the Veep's undisclosed locations. Or maybe the St. Regis. I hear they have a nice breakfast.
According to administration sources, Chalabi won't be meeting with President Bush. Not because he deliberately and repeatedly provided the U.S. government with false intel, convinced Cheney our troops would be greeted as liberators, tried to sabotage the UN's efforts to put an interim government in place, and was accused by the Bush administration of spying for Iran. No, all that has apparently been forgiven. Bush just doesn't want to appear to be playing favorites by meeting with any Iraqi candidates until the December 15 election is over. I guess the meetings with Bush's cabinet members -- and the $340,000 a month the White House gave to Chalabi in the lead up to the war -- is endorsement enough.
But Chalabi's trip won't just consist of cozy tête-à-têtes with administration big-shots. He'll also deliver a speech to the American Enterprise Institute -- an organization, according to its mission statement "dedicated to preserving and strengthening the foundations of freedom." No, the topic of his talk isn't "The Rebirth of Irony." It's "An Insider's View: Democratic Politics at Work in Iraq." On second thought, maybe it is on the rebirth of irony after all. Among the questions Chalabi will be addressing: "Will the constitution provide the foundation for a democratic system that can be a model for the Middle East?" According to Matthew Yglesias: "That's easy. The answer is no."
So it looks like Chalabi is pretty booked up. But, with all due respect, I'd like to suggest some additions to Mr. Chalabi's D.C. itinerary.
1. FBI Headquarters. Chalabi is currently under investigation, suspected of telling the Iranian government that America had broken the code it used for secret communications -- an offense the administration said could "get people killed." When this information came to light 17 months ago, Condi Rice promised a criminal investigation of the charges. But close to a year and a half later, the FBI has still not questioned Chalabi. Now seems like a perfect time. Condi can walk him over to the Hoover Building after their meeting and make all the necessary introductions.
2. United States Congress. I'm sure the Senate intelligence committee (or at least its Democratic members) would like to speak to Chalabi as part of the Phase II investigation into the Bush administration's use of false and misleading intelligence to help sell the war -- false and misleading intelligence that Chalabi, after all, played a central role in supplying. I'd love to see Dick Durbin grill Chalabi under oath about his relationship with the White House Iraq Group, his relationship with Curveball, and his predictions of a problem-free occupation. Members of the House, including John Conyers, are also very interested in talking to him. It might be very useful for the Deputy Prime Minister (and wanna-be PM) to get "An Insider's View of Democratic Politics at Work in America."
3. New York Times Washington Bureau. I'm sure that Bill Keller and Jill Abramson would fly to down for the chance to talk to Chalabi about his relationship with Judy Miller and find out exactly how he managed to convince her to write utterly bogus front page stories like the one about the engineer who swore he had personally seen 20 different WMD sites (Miller's story on the engineer, whom Miller deemed "reliable" and "credible," came just three days after he had failed a CIA lie detector test). (Note to Chalabi: don't be surprised it Pinch Sulzberger declines to fly down for the meeting).
4. Arlington National Cemetery. And finally, how about a quick meet and greet with the families of the over 17,000 U.S. soldiers killed or wounded in a war Mr. Chalabi was central in selling to our leaders? Maybe he can reminisce about the Pentagon meeting held a week after 9/11 during which he made the case for taking on Iraq. He can also explain what he meant in 2004 when he shrugged off charges he had deliberately trumped up claims about Saddam's WMD by saying, "We are heroes in error." He can then lead a discussion about who are the bigger heroes, Chalabi or the 2,057 American soldiers who have died in Iraq.
So what do you say, Ahmad? You up for a little detour from your planned comeback tour? I've got a feeling it would prove very educational -- if not for you, then certainly for the American public.