Puppet Show

Zelikow's role in anti-Maliki agitprop raises 9/11 Commission questions

From the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, this June 2005 cartoon from the Baghdad newspaper Al-Mada: The man on the left, peering into the head of a government official, says, "There is nothing in there."

What else is embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki supposed to do but counterattack the American politicians who are blasting him? He can't very well agree with their calls for his ouster. And he's already seen as a U.S. puppet by his own populace.

But Salon's Glenn Greenwald summarizes well the murky politics behind the attacks on Maliki by Hillary Clinton and other senators: Former 9/11 Commission executive director Philip Zelikow has been lobbying on behalf of Tony Soprano lookalike (and former CIA stooge) Ayad Allawi, who wants to seize the reins from Maliki.

zelikow-mug170.jpgGreenwald notes how this slimy episode destroys Zelikow's credibility, and after all, Zelikow directed the 9/11 Commission. Now Zelikow pulls strings for Allawi, and everybody dances on Maliki's grave.

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So I have a related question, or questions: What happened to the numerous juicy tidbits the staff under Zelikow dug up about the Bush regime's machinations before 9/11? For instance, why were morsels about Brian Sheridan, the government's chief counterterrorist adviser, not being replaced until after 9/11 and related stuff about dual-disloyalist Doug Feith not included in the final commission report? I wrote about some key differences between the staff reports (prepared by Zelikow's underlings) and the final report in June 2004.

Now we have an idea why some of that good stuff was left out of the final report: Zelikow was, after all, running the commission staff and no doubt had a major hand in OK'ing the final version of the report.

And here's another question: Why was the commission report initially released without an index? Another nice piece of stonewalling. Zelikow got some 'splainin' to do. That will never happen, at least not in our lifetime.

Anyway, from Greenwald's continually updated piece:

In a solid piece of reporting, CNN disclosed [August 23] that the most powerful GOP lobbying firm, founded by former GOP Party Chair and current Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour and staffed by key former Bush national security officials, is being paid by Allawi to coordinate these anti-Maliki, pro-Allawi efforts. …

Allawi hires the most powerful GOP firm in the country, with former top Bush officials as partners, and almost immediately, the key Op-Ed pages of our nation's newspapers open up to him and all of official Washington, beginning with the President, changes course. Suddenly, key figures in both parties begin calling for Maliki to be replaced.

Most extraordinary of all is how deceitful this whole process is. As CNN reports: "The lobbying firm boasts the services of two onetime foreign policy hands of President Bush: Ambassador Robert Blackwill, the former Deputy National Security Adviser, and Philip Zelikow, former counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

But currently, Zelikow in particular runs around Washington holding himself out — and being held out — as an Expert on the Future of Iraq while concealing that his firm is being paid by Allawi to undermine Maliki. As but one example, Zelikow was a featured Iraq Expert on ABC News with Charles Gibson [on August 21].

Reporter Martha Raddatz narrated the story which began (via LEXIS): "today, for the first time, President Bush said Maliki could be replaced." The story then flashed to Michael O'Hanlon, who said: "I think Mr. Bush made a very significant change in his policy today. He made it clear that his support for al-Maliki is on very thin ice."

Shortly thereafter, Raddatz said: "The former counselor to Secretary of State Rice says a plan B is now likely being considered," and then showed Zelikow — identified on-screen only as a "Former Counselor to the State Department."

Great stuff, as usual, from Greenwald, who notes:

So Zelikow, an Extremely Respected Washington Leader, strongly insinuates that the Bush administration is working to depose Maliki and warns the country of "how much concern Iraqis have about their leadership" without disclosing that his lobbying firm is being paid to achieve that result and that the prime beneficiary is his client. This is fraud and deceit of the highest order. How can this not, by itself, destroy Zelikow's credibility on every level? Just fathom the reams of pious journalistic condemnation if a blogger did something like this.

But the fraud seems even deeper than that. The CNN article yesterday, citing an anonymous Bush source, claimed that "White House officials are not privately involved or blessing the lobbying campaign to undermine al-Maliki." CNN quoted the official: "There's just no connection whatsoever. There's absolutely no involvement."

But Zelikow, at least, now seems to have some official role in forming Bush policy on Iraq.

Allawi was a U.S. stooge when he "ran" the Iraq government. We already know that Bush is a puppet whose strings are pulled by Karl Rove and whose role as commander-in-chief on 9-11 was taken over by Dick Cheney.

I guess it's not news that we're all being led. But just remember that the next time your buttons are pushed by something you read or hear about from your pols, someone like Zelikow may actually be pulling your strings.

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