Former Coaliton Provisional Authority adviser Michael Rubin has written a column for NRO compiling an incredibly damning indictment of Paul Bremer in connection with the raid on the quarters of Ahmed Chalabi yesterday: “The growing gap.” Unlike much that is in the papers today about Chalabi and the raid, Rubin’s column appears to be based on personal experience and insider knowledge. In any event, it is fascinating.
UPDATE: Dafydd ab Hugh writes:
I have quite a problem with the Michael Rubin article on Chalabi. For one thing, it’s patently clear that it’s a hit piece on Paul Bremer. Now, I am fairly neutral on Ambassador Bremer (and I’m not a big fan of Achmed Chalabi and never have), so perhaps it’s easier for me to spot…but didn’t you notice that Rubin consistently finds the most despicable possible interpretation of anything Bremer does? Michael Rubin on L. Paul Bremer sounds like Robert Scheer on George W. Bush.
Second, I did a little Googling to find out who Michael Rubin was, and I found some amazing and glaring contradictions and inconsistencies in his writing. For example, consider these two passages, the first from the NRO article you linked (21 May), the second from an article in The New Republic a month earlier:
The first: May 21, 2004, 8:49 a.m. The Growing Gap: Bremer has alienated Iraqis by Michael Rubin/National Review Online.
In November, the White House forced Bremer to reverse himself on sovereignty. Bremer outlined an elaborate caucus scheme. Chalabi visits often with Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani.
The second: Exit Poll by Michael Rubin Post date 04.27.04 | Issue date 05.03.04/TNR:
Bremer buckled to pressure from Grand Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani for direct elections, even as Islamist politicians’ statements, banners, and slogans hinted at the radicalism of Iraqi Islamist leaders.
In the first passage, Bremer proposed “an elaborate caucus scheme” which Chalabi “refused to endorse.” Finally, a “furious” Bremer “found that Chalabi was right.” But in the second passage, published less than a month earlier, we find that “Bremer buckled to despite “the radicalism of Iraqi Islamist leaders.”
So which is it? Was Bremer’s caucus plan a “scheme” and “Chalabi’s” direct-elections plan right? Or was the direct election plan — in this passage attributed to al Sistani, not Chalabi — a radical power grab to which Bremer “buckled?”
There are only two themes that connect these articles: 1) Bremer is a villainous dolt, and 2) Chalabi is a saint, the Shi’ite George Washington. Note that when Rubin is praising direct elections, they’re Chalabi’s idea; but when he’s attacking them (different audience?), they become Sistani’s radical plan. (At least Rubin didn’t call them a Sistani “scheme” back in April!)
Finally, consistent with Rubin’s multi-year hagiography of Achmed Chalabi, note that Rubin only mentions the most absurd and spurious charges (Chalabi was behind the Abu Ghraib massacre!); he makes no reference to the serious and highly credible charge that is actually at the center of this raid: that Chalabi or his crew had been passing intelligence information to Iran and receiving much support, sometimes acting (as even you, yourself admit) as Iran’s mouthpiece in Iraq. (“Chalabi’s public position in any event seems to have called for the inclusion of Iran in plans for Iraq’s postwar reconstruction.” — More Troubling News, which you wrote earlier today.) Thus we have hagiography of Chalabi coupled to demonization of Paul Bremer, with a caboose of substantial history of inconsistency on what is actually good for Iraq (other than firing Bremer and naming Chalabi sultan).
Hence my skepticism; and sad to say, it appears that far from being disinterested — or perhaps interested in the truth, wherever it may lie — Michael Rubin (and others, such as Laurie Mylroie) have simply chosen up sides in the ongoing Iraqi factionalism.
As Don Rumsfeld would say, this is unhelpful.