In Need of Comic Relief? It's Chalabi Time! 

In Need of Comic Relief? It's Chalabi Time!

I think I saw this first on Kevin Drum's blog:

[blockquote]I asked [Christopher Hitchens] 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."[/blockquote]

Drum asks, more or less, if Hitchens can possibly be that stupid. Josh Marshall adds more:

...even a math fool like me knew enough to laugh out loud when I read that. I'd love to hear Hitchens give a ten minute description of how he thinks modern cryptography works exactly.

Marshall's reader tops this:

In that article you linked to by the blogger who saw Chalabi speak at the AEI, Hitchens claims that Chalabi may have broken our or the Iranians' codes (it isn't clear which) himself. That is quite simply the most preposterous story I have ever heard in my life. Chalabi would have about the same chance of breaking our or the Iranians' codes as of building his own nuclear bombs.

Moreover, Chalabi did not specialize in cryptology but in group theory. There is no evidence that he is a mathematical genius, either -- his publication record is not impressive.

I am a research mathematician who works in an areas pretty close to cryptology.

Quite simply, there is no way to take anything Hitchens says seriously ever again. Next to him, Scotty Mac is a paragon of credibility.

Marshall closes (for now):

Aside from Hitchens' speculation that Chalabi sat around using our diplomatic or military codes (some encrypted diplomatic cables he'd pulled out of the air, I assume) as some brainiac's version of a Rubik's Cube to pass the time while he wasn't busy with embezzlement or forgery, this really is an example of the dingbat personality cult Chalabi managed to assemble around himself in DC.

This is one of those stories which, no matter how briefly told, actually reveals some underlying logic about what's going on. Hitchens has felt compelled to come up with this, er, crap because he's concerned about the Iranian connection to the U.S. effort in Iraq. Hitchens has left behind many of his left wing friends to support Bush on the war; and who has arguably benefitted the most, so far? The mullahs of Iran. Hitchens claims to hate theocracy of all kinds, especially the Catholic Church, so he must especially hate the mullocracy in Iran.

What if Operation Freedom and Forty-Bucks a Barrel, or whatever it's called, had the unintended effect of helping the Iranian mullocracy? What if the effect wasn't wholly unintentional--at leat on Chalabi's part?

There is also recent word that Chalabi may have been directly involved in the Niger forgeries that came through the Italian secret service, brokered to some extent by neo-con Michael Ledeen. More next post.

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