Sunday, July 20, 2003

Banker, Schmoozer, Spy

To his American friends, Ahmad Chalabi is a democrat and a paragon of Iraqi patriotism. To his enemies, he�s a crook. Does he have the stuff to reshape Iraq? A NEWSWEEK investigation
By Christopher Dickey and Mark Hosenball

May 12 issue � In the battered precincts of Baghdad�s Hunting Club, Ahmad Chalabi holds forth on the bright future of his country and the sordid history of his enemies. The Iraqi financier and freedom fighter, just returned to his homeland after 45 years in exile, says he�s taken possession of 25 tons of documents from Saddam Hussein�s secret police, and he�s thinking how best to use them.

HE AND HIS BROTHERS have been the victims, as he tells it, of many conspiracies by Saddam and by Jordan�s late King Hussein. According to Chalabi, even Swiss bankers and Saddam�s brother Barzan collaborated on schemes to destroy the family�s banking empire abroad. But now Ahmad Chalabi could turn the tables on his many old enemies.
�It�s a huge thing,� Chalabi told NEWSWEEK. �Some of the files are very damning.� And some of the most incriminating, Chalabi implies, could tell a lot about the royal family�in neighboring Jordan. That is where Chalabi built and lost a banking empire in the 1980s, before he was forced to flee and convicted in absentia of fraud and embezzlement. King Abdullah, who has ruled Jordan since 1999, �is worried about his relationship with Saddam,� says Chalabi. �He�s worried about what might come out.� He hints there was an especially close tie��a subsidiary relationship��between the then Prince Abdullah and Saddam�s infamous elder son, Uday. But Chalabi gives no details. �Jordan is a neighbor,� says Chalabi in a tone of polite menace. �We don�t want to have some [of the present king�s] early indiscretions poison the relationship.� Yet what could be more poisonous than allegations too vague to refute?


Ahmad Chalabi: banker, politician, schmoozer, spy. Some American officials, particularly leading Pentagon hawks, regard him as a true democrat and a paragon of Iraqi patriotism, an aristocrat who gave up a potential life of comfort and ease to fight against Saddam at a time when few others dared. Critics, including officials from the CIA and State Department, characterize Chalabi as a corrupt and unreliable ally. A NEWSWEEK investigation, with which Chalabi cooperated, shows that his own and his family�s financial institutions were shut down by authorities in Switzerland, Lebanon and Jordan because of questionable practices and unsecured loans. The cost to investors and depositors was tens of millions of dollars. Nobody doubts that Chalabi�s an audacious operator: how else can you describe someone who, after an absence from Iraq of nearly half a century, takes over a prime piece of Baghdad real estate�with a small militia of American-trained and -outfitted gunmen at his side�and starts planning to completely remake his country and the politics of the Middle East?
Over the years Chalabi has cultivated Israelis and Iranians, Washington lawyers and Kurdish warlords, journalists, spies, tribal chieftains and congressional aides��whoever it took to serve his purpose of removing Saddam, returning to Iraq and putting himself near the center of power. An Israeli official recalls Chalabi�s response when asked why he had set up an office in Tehran: �I�m no novice. I know what these bastards want. But I have no recourse.� Now that Chalabi is ensconced at the Hunting Club, the Israeli official says, he �understands democracy and he could be a bridge between the local clans and international trends, but he has too many enemies... I wouldn�t like to be his insurance agent.� Another old friend, archneoconservative Richard Perle, told NEWSWEEK: �I don�t know anyone who knows him well who doesn�t think highly of him, and I don�t know anyone who doesn�t know him at all who doesn�t speak ill of him.
Arnie to visit troops in Iraq

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Action movie hero Arnold "Terminator" Schwarzenegger is taking his act to U.S. troops in the Gulf for the U.S. Independence Day holiday, the military service organisation, USO, says.
The Hollywood star will be screening his new movie, "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines," for the soldiers and touring stations at several locations in the region.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

Bush may send 500-1,000 troops to Liberia
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush could announce later this week that he is sending 500 to 1,000 peacekeeping troops to Liberia, two senior officials told CNN.

The officials said the timing of the announcement could be slowed by efforts to get Liberian President Charles Taylor, who faces war crimes charges by a U.N. court in neighboring Sierra Leone, to step down and leave the war-torn country.
Bush has been reluctant to commit U.S. troops to Liberia, which was founded in 1822 as a settlement for freed American slaves, and hoped West African peacekeepers would be enough, with the possible exception of Marine reinforcements at the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia. (Full story)

But Secretary of State Powell has been arguing in favor of a U.S. commitment, sources said -- citing recent peacekeeping commitments by France in the Ivory Coast and Great Britain in Sierra Leone.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

West Recruits Bacteria Assassins

Bacteria-eating viruses could be the answer to antibiotic resistance, and the first treatment to use the therapy could be available by 2004.

Half a century ago, antibiotics revolutionized medicine by turning many once-deadly infections like tuberculosis into minor impediments. But overuse is rapidly rendering antibiotics ineffective, and scientists know they need a replacement fast. One of the most promising options is one that's been used in Eastern Europe and Russia for decades: bacteriophage therapy.
U.S. Develops Urban Surveillance System
Associated Press

WASHINGTON - The Pentagon is developing an urban surveillance system that would use computers and thousands of cameras to track, record and analyze the movement of every vehicle in a foreign city.

Dubbed "Combat Zones That See," the project is designed to help the U.S. military protect troops and fight in cities overseas.

Police, scientists and privacy experts say the unclassified technology could easily be adapted to spy on Americans.
US-based missiles to have global reach

Allies to become less important as new generation of weapons enables America to strike anywhere from its own territory

The Pentagon is planning a new generation of weapons, including huge hypersonic drones and bombs dropped from space, that will allow the US to strike its enemies at lightning speed from its own territory.
Over the next 25 years, the new technology would free the US from dependence on forward bases and the cooperation of regional allies, part of the drive towards self-suffi ciency spurred by the difficulties of gaining international cooperation for the invasion of Iraq.

The new weapons are being developed under a programme codenamed Falcon (Force Application and Launch from the Continental US).