Chalabi's Latest Treachery

by Chris Bodenner

Eli Lake gets the scoop:

The U.S. military authorized the arrest and interrogation last year of a top aide to Ahmed Chalabi on suspicion that the aide served as a liaison to a Shi'ite group thought responsible for the 2007 execution-style slayings of five U.S. Marines and other violence against foreigners and Iraqis [...] Mr. Chalabi had access to sensitive information about the campaign against the special groups through his relationship with the Iraqi government and U.S. military. "This was a friendship killer," the U.S. official said, leading the U.S. military to cut ties with Mr. Chalabi in May 2008.

And just a quick refresher:

In the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, under [Chalabi's] guidance the [Iraqi National Congress] provided a major portion of the information on which U.S. Intelligence based its condemnation of Saddam Hussein, including reports of weapons of mass destruction and alleged ties to al-Qaeda. Nearly all, if not all, of this information has turned out to be of questionable accuracy.

Casting a cloud over the story, however, is the alleged mistreatment of the aide in question:

The aide, Ali Faisal al-Lami, was released without charge earlier this month. [...] Mr. al-Lami said he asked to know the charges against him. His interrogator, whom Mr. al-Lami described as an American in civilian clothes, replied: " 'You are a dangerous criminal, and you support terrorism, and there are so many charges against you. ... You are in the custody of coalition forces with the approval of the U.N. and Iraqi forces.' "

Mr. al-Lami said he was kept in a squalid cell infested with insects and fed military rations, known as MREs, that were past their expiration dates. The only furniture in his cell was a small metal bench and the temperature, he said, was near freezing. He said he suffered from diarrhea but was not allowed to go to the bathroom for five days. As a result, he said, he soiled himself. He said he was deprived of sleep by a light that remained on at all times and by guards who would bang on the door when he started to nod off. Mr. al-Lami also asserted that he was subjected to psychological pressure. At one point, he said, he was shown pictures of his family in their backyard that appeared to have been taken from his house. He was told he would not see his family again - a threat he interpreted to mean that if he did not cooperate, his wife and children would be harmed.

Joanne Mariner, director of terrorism and counterterrorism for Human Rights Watch, also interviewed Mr. al-Lami and said she found his story credible.