The Pull-Out Technique

Tuesday on the Sean Hannity show (I skimmed the DoD transcript) Donald Rumsfeld predicted that the Iraqi insurgency will diminish after the December elections because “what the terrorists will be doing at that stage is attacking the Iraqi Constitution which was fashioned by the Iraqi people and an Iraqi government that was elected under the Iraqi Constitution, and they won’t be against coalition people.”

So the war is nearly over?

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SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Oh, sure. Let me — No, let me rephrase it. First of all, I don’t know what war you’re talking about.

HANNITY: I’m talking about the war in Iraq.

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Okay, if you’re talking about Iraq — The Global War on Terror I regret to say is going to go on for some time because of the advantage that a terrorist has in being able to attack and the difficulty of defending against attacks at any location at any moment of the day or night.

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Which makes me wonder, Mr. Love ’em then leave ’em, what might change with the news today regarding the discovery by U.S. troops of up to 200 Sunnis at a secret prison of which there are said to be more?

Prime Minister (of course the deputy PM Ahmed Chalabi met with Rummy the night before as some in the administration “still believe that there were WMD“) Ibrahim al-Jafaari:

I was informed that there were 173 detainees held at an Interior Ministry prison and they appear to be malnourished. There is also some talk that they were subjected to some kind of torture.”

While there are several warring militia in the region, it is said that the most feared of them all, the Wolf Brigade (a Shi’ite dominated militia) are hosts of these prisons, according to an article in Wednesday’s Independent which also includes “an American official” uttering: “It is getting more and more like Mogadishu every day.”

And this will stop as soon as the elections are over?

For the first time since the invasion of Iraq, a timetable has officially been brought into play regarding Coalition troops withdrawal. Last week, after the UN unanimously approved a resolution giving a mandate for forces to remain for another year, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, followed by Condoleezza Rice and Kofi Annan, made secret visits to Baghdad.

Last Thursday, Straw told al-Jafaari that he hoped UK troops would make a swift withdrawal. The next day, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani went on television and warned that immediate removal of the 8,000 British troops in Iraq would be a catastrophe, but that within one year, “Iraqi troops will be ready to replace British forces in the south.”

British PM Tony Blair is now with Defense Secretary John Reid and General Sir Mike Jackson, head of the British Army, who confirmed over the weekend that the timetable announced by Talabani is “entirely consistent with our aims.”

Iraqi National Security Adviser Muwaffaq Rubaie told reporters in Cairo that 30,000 troops will be withdrawn by the middle of 2006 after meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Sunday.

In Tuesday’s New York Times, Nicholas D. Kristof guesses that the best bet is to give a timetable for withdrawal. He quotes a member of the Iraqi media:

The Americans said that they came to overthrow Saddam Hussein,” she said. “They did so and Saddam Hussein is gone, and they are still there. So they are there for their own reasons” – she was apparently alluding to stealing oil and setting up bases.

Rumsfeld took a Churchillian take on this in his Defense Department Briefing Tuesday, channelling the WWII Prime Minister (Rummy read Winston’s bio Monday night), whose dilemma “was not winning the war, but rather persuading people to allow him to win it.”

It goes without saying that a timetable IS mandatory – one can’t carry on with the mantra: “Stay the course,” when there clearly is none.

Truth is, the situation in Iraq may take a turn for the worst when and if we leave.

But, as a recent editorial in the Arab News asks, “can conditions in Iraq in fact get any worse if the coalition withdraws?”

Ahmed Chalabi Redux

The once disgraced intel fabricator Ahmed Chalabi wined and dined with the likes of Cheney and Rumsfeld. Why?

He’s hoping to change the way U.S. troops operate in Iraq, according to Arianna Huffington.

From Reuters:

Democratic lawmakers have demanded to know why Chalabi was meeting top U.S. officials after allegations he had passed American secrets to Iran and they urged congressional committees to subpoena him for testimony.
…….
A senior U.S. defense official said Rumsfeld and Chalabi discussed the importance of protecting Iraq’s oil and electric power grids from insurgent attacks and improving intelligence-gathering by U.S.-led military forces in Iraq.

Perhaps, now that he is Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq, perhaps he is just hoping to get a better handle on using Coalition troops for his own purposes.

Or, perhaps, as National Review’s Byron York told Hardball’s Chris Matthews (HT: Think Progress):

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Why is the Vice President and other administration officials like Rumsfeld seeming to reject the notion that this guy [Chalabi] is full of it?

BYRON YORK: A couple of reasons. One, he is now a high ranking Iraqi official…. And the other thing is, look, I think there are a lot of people in the administration who still believe that there were weapons of mass destruction somewhere that they were spirited away or in some way not found.

Christopher Hitchens breaks down why the gov’t has to accept being fooled as such:
It was, of course, the sinuous and dastardly forces of Ahmad Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress who persuaded the entire Senate to take leave of its senses in 1998…. The INC was able to manipulate the combined intelligence services of Britain, France, Germany, and Italy, as well as the CIA, the DIA, and the NSA, who between them employ perhaps 1.4 million people, and who in the American case dispose of an intelligence budget of $44 billion, with only a handful of Iraqi defectors and an operating budget of $320,000 per month. That’s what you have to believe.

Rep. Henry Waxman writes that he thinks Chalabi should be questioned under oath while he’s in town: Now four years later, Mr. Chalabi has stated that his objective in Iraq ?has been achieved.? Now installed as Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq, Mr. Chalabi says that ?what was said before,? his half-truths and false statements, ?is not important.?

Who exactly is after them?

Now, Saddam’s former right-hand man has been slain. Or, perhaps, he just died. On CBC Radio’s “As it Happens,” an advisor to Saddam Hussein was incredibly forceful and defensive with host Mary Lou Lindsay, claiming that the US and Chalabi’s men are after Saddam’s lawyers so that NOBODY will be willing to stand witness for the defense.

Listen to the broadcast from Thursday, 10 November. Abdul Haq al-Ami is a legal advisor to the Hussein family.

At the very least, a red flag is raised by these meetings and the fact that they are being shielded from the press. David Corn of the Nation wonders what else is being covered up in his blog.

Chalabi himself, claims that its a big urban myth that he’s to blame for false WMD intel in thisi week’s TIME: The Robb-Silberman report said we had minimum impact on WMD intelligence as it related to the U.S. decision to go to war.