(the following is an edited version from 9 pages of handwritten notes. They are close equivalents to actual statements of Chalabi, but not verbatim. As such, they are only an approximation of his speech. The bullet points are to emphasize this. Anyone with corrections, please notify me and I will try to incorporate them.)
- The coalition's invasion of Iraq turned sour when the US and the UK opted for occupation instead of liberation.
- The coalition took action for the wrong reasons. Chalabi noted that his call for the liberation of Iraq was not because of the presence of Weapons of Mass Destruction, but because of the human rights violations, because of the mass destruction which Saddam was imposing upon his own people. He talked about the INC and how the Iraqi Liberation Act was a step in the right direction, and only briefly mentioned the breakdown within the INC, to reassert that the INC or something like it would have been the ideal means for the liberation of Iraq [probably thinking about Otpor in Serbia].
- The situation in Iraq is bad. Progress cannot be made under the current situation. Just getting things done is difficult: during the summer, there were only 2 hours of electricity per day in Baghdad; now there are 4 hours per day. Iraq is one of the most oil-rich nations in the world, but there's a gasoline shortage in the country. How can things move forward this way?
- The paradox: If the occupation force stays in Iraq, things cannot get better. If they leave, things will get worse.
- The allies promised liberation and they delivered occupation. We [presumably the INC] worked with opposition groups to liberate the Iraqi people. [Chalabi then spoke about how he and his associates were not given control of Iraq immediately after the invasion] "People who opposed liberation took charge of occupation."
- "Bremmer was appointed satrap of Iraq" [I don't think many understood that very harsh barb]. "At that point, we began to lose the moral high ground. The governing council was thwarted by the coalition authority."
- The occupiers had things backwards. They wanted to (1) form a provisional constitution, (2) hold an election, and then (3) form a sovereign government. [much in the order of the U.S., involving more revision, but of course, more initial power to the coalition]
- "We succeeded in inverting the process, gaining (1) sovereignty, (2) election, (3) constitution. But we achieved this at a great cost [of political capital] and received [against our will] a dream team of CIA and intelligence-vetted people which resulted in an Iraqi nightmare."
- Next, Chalabi blamed this coalition-[imposed?] group for corruption at a high level. He said that the Iraqi budget has massive amounts of money, but most depts have been only able to spend no more than 30% of their balance, due to corruption and fear of corruption. There are 15 billion in the bank, and there are 3 billion more dollars coming in each month [not sure I got this number right], and Chalabi thinks that more of it should be spent.
- [Here, Chalabi himself was rather vague and unclear. His ideas sounded plausible, but I'm not sure what he was actually suggesting] The Coalition Provisional Authority made Iraq a single constituency. Chalabi didn't like this. He told us that he had suggested an alternate plan, called the United Iraqi Alliance.
- He too had wanted a democratic constitution -- not perfect, it would have gaps and problems, but it would have guaranteed democracy. And he said that the existing constitution is actually a positive thing. It makes coup de etat's difficult. It doesn't allow a theocracy. It upholds religious freedom.
- The constitution was passed with an overwhelming majority in a referendum [Federalist Papers anyone?]. But 2 sunni provinces rejected it with a 2/3 vote, and one rejected it with a 50% vote in the negative. It passed because of the details of the referendum, which only required it to be approved in a certain number of provinces, not all of them. The constitution did not win on a popular vote[ but a plurality] [here, I'm not sure what he means, given his earlier use of the term "overwhelming majority"]
- Most people voted in a sectarian fashion, hoping this would protect them from other sects, thus the current government has been unable to perform its duties [due to sectarian issues].
- What can we do to fix this? Here is the blueprint:
- Iraquis need to pull up their socks
- Occupiers should realize reality
- Religious groups should acknowledge and realize the consequences of their actions.
The Chalabi Plan:
- Give Iraqi security responsibility. Currently, it's not able to mobilize a battalion without asking permission of the coalition forces. This is a large barrier to autonomy, says Chalabi.
- Give Iraq authority over training and recruitment of security forces.
- Learn from the failure of Iraqi leadership to stand up to the occupiers. Iraq needs to take hold of the levers of power, but it cannot.
- Pursue development programs under strict scrutiny, hard work, and hlep from the US and UK through private channels.
[Here, Chalabi said that the oil for food program was a massive scandal on the part of the UN, and that he is proud of the role he and others in Iraq took to highlight and stop the corruption]
Chalabi suggested several handicaps to progress.
- There is no Iraqi national intelligence. Not a single penny in the Iraqi budget is going into this. [but then he said] Iraqi intelligence is entirely funded by foreign sources. This needs to be changed.
- Iraq must not be a battleground between the UK/US and Iran. Must not be a staging point or a transit point for actions of terrorism against muslims [presumably referring to any action against Iran].
- Tensions between the US and Iran are occurring at the Iraq's expense. There is a need to foster agreement among Arab nations that a peaceful Iraq is good for the area. Democracy has meant the power of the Shia. This is an important development in the history of the Middle East. Other nations in the Middle east see this as a threat.
- Democracy: This is no threat. They think that a successful democracy will undermine other countries. This is not true.
- Fear of the Kurds: Some countries deny Kurds the right of nationality and see Iraq's attitude to the Kurds as a threat.
- Despite problems, despite bloodshed, the situation is not helpless: There is hope for a peaceful future. It is a fallacy that people will reject freedom or that they need tutelage [to properly administer that freedom], or that Islam is anti-democracy.
- What do you have to say about your role in WMD intelligence?
- The main issue for me was the human rights threat. But after Sept 11, the US govt became very concerned with terrorism and WMDs. They approached us for info on people involved in the Iraqi weapons program. We found three people for them. The first had info on sites. We did not vouch for his information. The US questioned him, got his information, [pause] and we have not seen him since [long laughter from the house. I felt sick, both at his delivery and their response]. The second had information on military bio labs. The U.S. gave him a lie-detector test, which he failed, but they believed him anyway. The same thing happened to him. The third said he had information on nuclear fuel, but after questioning him for a few hours, they dismissed him.
- US Reports make it clear that the INC provided no false information to the United States. The conclusion of the document is different than the contents of the report. In fact, the chairman of the committee called the conclusion a disgrace.
- Regardless, to think that an exile government would provide false information when they were already under suspicion for fraud is laughable [odd, that he never mentioned this when he was praising the INC].
- If there's not a lot of consensus in Iraq, why not split it up?
- The issue of borders is very difficult. [short lecture on the artificial origins of national borders in the past]. Iraq has real problems with ideas of national identity. However, to split Iraq would cause several major problems. Iraq would separate into a (a) Kurdish state, surrounded by hostile nations, particularly Iran; (b) Sunni Iraq is bereft of resources. it's basically a desert. There is no oil, and no way to live; (c) Shiite iraq, which is where most of the oil resides, would become a satellite of Iran.
- What about pulling out troops?
- [significant part missing] We must use the current time to produce something new and different, [to exceed the dismal expectations], to develop a sovereign state with a real security force. [and becoming tentative in expression] If we work together properly, and everything goes well, I estimate [withdrawal] within 18 months.
- Why not try Saddam in international courts?
- We wanted that. But it would require a resolution of the UN Security Council, and they would not approve of an international court for Saddam.