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November 10, 2005
Iraqi Deputy, Back in U.S., Strives to Rebuild Reputation
By DEXTER FILKINS
WASHINGTON, Nov. 9 - Ahmad Chalabi, once an Iraqi exile leader and now a deputy prime minister, began his campaign for American rehabilitation here on Wednesday by dismissing the claim that he lured the Bush administration into war with inaccurate intelligence on Iraqi weapons.
Appearing before a friendly audience at the American Enterprise Institute, Mr. Chalabi declined to address why so many people, Iraqi and American, were so wrong about Saddam Hussein's capabilities to produce chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.
"It is not useful for me to comment on it," Mr. Chalabi told the audience.
To his critics Mr. Chalabi, who was once the Pentagon's favorite to lead Iraq after Mr. Hussein, had the most to gain from an American invasion.
But on Wednesday he maintained that the intelligence that he had passed on had little to do with the administration's insistence that the United States had to go to war to disrupt Mr. Hussein's ability to use illegal weapons.
"This is an urban myth," Mr. Chalabi said. He said a United States government investigation into the issue "debunks the entire idea" that information provided by him had led to war.
The report he cited, a presidential inquiry into prewar intelligence failures, concluded that information provided by Mr. Chalabi's group, the Iraqi National Congress, had had "a minimal impact" on assessments of Iraq's capacities.