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Thursday, May 20, 2004

The Chalabi Conspiracy

One more example of how little trust liberal bloggers have in the US government came along today when US forces raided Ahmed Chalabi's digs in Iraq. Afterward Chalabi announced he was cutting ties with the Coalition Provisional Authority. This comes on the heels of the US cutting off the money we'd been giving him a few days ago.

What's stunning is that almost instantly, theories of a conspiracy popped up on the blogs.

Atrios: "So, are we really pissed at him or is this just part of a grand plan to let Chalabi distance himself from us so that he can become the face of the moderate opposition so that we can install him as a friendly strongman who pretends to not be friendly?" Also see Ezra Klein making a similar point. Jeff Taylor holds off guessing, but notes the "unusual silence among the Chalabists."

Josh Marshall thinks a ruse is unlikely: "I've had a slew of readers writing in and asking -- or insisting -- that the raid on the Baghdad home of Ahmed Chalabi and INC headquarters was, if not staged, then conducted with the intent of boosting Chalabi's popularity by appearing to place him at odds with the American occupiers. ... But I'm very skeptical of this interpretation."

Now the US authorities are saying Chalabi wasn't the target of the raid (via the Corner). I suppose one could say that since the ploy was too transparent, the military is backing off now, but I think this whole thing is also a good example of the perils of doing instant analysis. So I'll offer none, other than to note the bizarreness.