THE IRANIANS MANIPULATED THE U.S. INTO INVADING IRAQ
How? They used their very good friend Ahmad Chalabi -- at least that's a (quite plausible-sounding) theory floated by Dexter Filkins in this weekend's New York Times Magazine:
...Amid the debate about Chalabi's role in taking America to war, one little-noticed phrase in a Senate Intelligence Committee report on W.M.D. offered an important insight into Chalabi's identity. One of the principal errors made by the Bush administration in relying on Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress, the report said, was to disregard conclusions by the C.I.A. and the Defense Intelligence Agency that "the I.N.C. was penetrated by hostile intelligence services," notably those of Iran.
The Iran connection has long been among the most beguiling aspects of Chalabi's career. [Robert] Baer, the former C.I.A. operative, recalled sitting in a hotel lobby in Salah al-Din, in Kurdish-controlled Iraq, in 1995 while Chalabi met with the turbaned representatives of Iranian intelligence on the other side of the room. (Baer, as an American, was barred from meeting the Iranians.) Baer says he came to regard Chalabi as an Iranian asset, and still does.
"He is basically beholden to the Iranians to stay viable," Baer told me. "All his C.I.A. connections -- he wouldn't get away with that sort of thing with the Iranians unless he had proved his worth to them."
Pat Lang, the D.I.A. agent, holds a similar view: that in Chalabi, the Iranians probably saw someone who could help them achieve their long-sought goal of removing Saddam Hussein. After a time, in Lang's view, the Iranians may have figured the Americans would leave and that Chalabi would most likely be in charge. Lang insists he is only speculating, but he says it has been clear to the American intelligence community for years that Chalabi has maintained "deep contacts" with Iranian officials.
"Here is what I think happened," Lang said. "Chalabi went and told the guys at the Ministry of Intelligence and Security in Tehran: 'The Americans are giving me money. I'm their guy. I'm their candidate.' And I'm sure their eyes lit up. The Iranians would reason that they could use this guy to manipulate the United States to get what they wanted. They would figure that the U.S. would invade. They would figure that we would come and we would go, and if we left Chalabi in charge, who was a good friend of theirs, they would be in good shape." ...
Filkins isn't sure this is the truth, but it's hard to discount it. If it is true, allowing it to happen is one more reason this is the worst presidency in American history.