Thursday, November 10, 2005

Chalabi, Hitchens tragicomedy

I don't know whether to laugh or cry. As you may know, Chalabi is the former Iraqi exile (and Chicago math PhD) who conned the neocons with all kinds of crappy pre-war WMD "intelligence," as well as the notion that our troops would be welcomed with flowers (who would you have believed on this, Chalabi or Army Chief of Staff Shinseki?). Rather than being the subject of an FBI/CIA investigation, he is being feted in Washington by Condi and others, and giving a lecture at AEI, apparently attended by Iraq war apologist and self-important blowhard Christopher Hitchens. The little nugget below comes via (see here for more).

Hitchens then turned the subject back to Chalabi, his good friend. I asked him if he thought Chalabi had been passing American intelligence to the Iranians. "No," he insisted. "It's possible that with his training, you know, at [The University of] Chicago that with his own ability he was able to crack the codes. He is a mathematical genius. His expertise is cryptology. It is possible that he broke the codes himself." (This is a paraphrase since I was walking down M Street and crossing Connecticut Avenue all while being amazed that I was having an actual conversation with Christopher Hitchens at the time). Now, I don't believe this for one second. Why would Chalabi be trying to break American codes in his spare time anyway? Who does that if they are friendly to us? Suspicious, I say.

Well, Chalabi's expertise is not cryptography, and no, he didn't single handedly break any Iranian ciphers. What he did was pass on some important intel to the Iranians (that the US had broken their ciphers) that should occasion yet another investigation into neocons leaking classified information.

What makes me most sad is that someone (Hitchens) so ignorant and un-careful in thinking and speaking about topics about which they know nothing could be a public intellectual. But then again in our culture knowledge of basic mathematics or physics is considered geek esoterica whereas an educated person is expected to have read all of Shakespeare.

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