Pimping for Chalabi

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed May 14 07:47:55 MDT 2003


Like Jeff Goldblum in the climax of David Cronenberg's "The Fly", 
Christopher Hitchens continues to mutate at an alarming rate. At this 
stage, he is making appearances on rightwing shock jock Don Imus's radio 
show, where he lashed out at the CIA for undermining Chalabi:

<http://wfan.com/imusinstantreplay/local_audioclip_132095035.html>

And once again does some unpaid (?) PR work for Chalabi on slate.com online:

"Yet every journalist feels compelled to state, as a matter of record, 
that Ahmad Chalabi was once convicted (by a very bizarre special court 
in the kingdom of Jordan) of embezzling money from a bank that was 
partly controlled by Iraq. I am not an accountant, and I admit that I 
don't know what happened at the Bank of Petra in 1972. I am not sure, 
after exhaustive inquiries, that I know anybody who really does know. 
But I do know what happened at the Iraqi Central Bank a few weeks ago, 
and I don't have to be an accountant or auditor to understand it."

Trying to burnish Chalabi's reputation is a little bit like trying to 
apply carwax to a dog turd. No matter how much elbow grease you use, it 
still won't look good.

In any case, whatever defense can be mounted on behalf of Chalabi's role 
in the Bank of Petra, there are also the Swiss claims made against him 
as well:

"After losing its license, the Chalabis’ Swiss bank had to file for 
bankruptcy. Soon, so did a related family “trading company” called 
SOCOFI. About $160 million in claims were filed by angry SOCOFI 
creditors (many from the Middle East). But according to a secret Swiss 
bankruptcy report obtained by news-week, there was a big hole in the 
company’s balance sheet: about $100 million worth of outstanding loans 
to members of the Chalabi family and their companies. This included a $2 
million loan to a Swiss software company run by Ahmad. (Chalabi says his 
company couldn’t repay the loan because it, in turn, was owed money by 
the failed family bank.) In September 2000, two of Ahmad’s brothers 
pleaded no contest to charges that they had broken the Swiss penal code 
in connection with SOCOFI.

full: http://www.msnbc.com/news/909076.asp

Somehow I don't think that Orwell can be the inspiration for this kind 
of journalistic malfeasance. My guess is that within a year or two, 
Hitchens will no longer be claiming the mantle of Orwell but finding new 
role models like Arnaud de Borchgrave or Claire Sterling perhaps.


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