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Chris Hedges’ articles in the New York Times were used as justification for going to war in Iraq in 2003, and to line up popular support. The information was apparently false. Hedges was already an experienced war reporter. He had worked for the New York Times from 1990 and even reported on the first Gulf War, so was familiar with the region. Yet, he chose to report stories about Iraq from INC/Chalabi sources even though he later admitted that “He had known Chalabi for more than a decade… but never trusted him. and “thought he was unreliable and corrupt…https://web.archive.org/web/20040703025203/https://www.cjr.org/issues/2004/4/mccollam-list.aspChalabi played a key role in convincing the [Bush] administration that the Iraqi government had weapons of mass destruction and ties to al Qaeda, unfounded claims at the heart of the case for war… in 2004 U.S. forces raided his home based on suspicions that he was funneling intelligence to Iran…”. https://web.archive.org/web/20151106034058/https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ahmad-chalabi-key-iraq-invasion-proponent-dies-at-71/

Chris Hedges later worked for Russia’s RT news for many years, until RT was canceled after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Subsequent to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Hedges accused a “coterie of neocons and liberal interventionists who orchestrated two decades of military fiascos in the Middle East” of “now stoking a war with Russia.” in “The Pimps of War April 10, 2022: https://web.archive.org/web/20220420120738/https://chrishedges.substack.com/p/listen-to-this-article-the-pimps?s=r

As seen, below, Chris Hedges was a real “pimp of war” in the Middle East:
”A NATION CHALLENGED: THE SCHOOL; Defectors Cite Iraqi Training For TerrorismBy Chris Hedges Nov. 8, 2001 Section A, Page 1, The New York Times: “Two defectors from Iraqi intelligence said yesterday that they had worked for several years at a secret Iraqi government camp that had trained Islamic terrorists in rotations of five or six months since 1995…https://web.archive.org/web/20090326113810/https://www.nytimes.com/2001/11/08/world/a-nation-challenged-the-school-defectors-cite-iraqi-training-for-terrorism.html

Chris Hedges’ contact person, Chalabi, told Jack Fairweather of Mother Jones in 2004: “As far as we’re concerned, we’ve been entirely successful. That tyrant Saddam is gone, and the Americans are in Baghdad. What was said before is not important”. (“Heroes in Error: How a fake general, a pliant media, and a master manipulator helped lead the United States into war.” by Jack Fairweather, March/April 2006, Mother Jones https://archive.is/fk5I0 )

Excerpt from: “A Decade of Deception and Defiance” Washington, DC, September 12, 2002, White House Background Paper on Iraq, September 12, 2002…serves as a background paper for President George W. Bush’s September 12th speech to the United Nations General Assembly…”, which, by all appearances, was based on Chris Hedges NYT report: “Former Iraqi military officers have described a highly secret terrorist training facility in Iraq known as Salman Pak, where both Iraqis and non-Iraqi Arabs receive training on hijacking planes and trains, planting explosives in cities, sabotage, and assassinations.https://2001-2009.state.gov/p/nea/rls/13456.htm New York Times used to be considered a “newspaper of record”, i.e. supposedly a legitimate, reliable source.

In the context of Hedges’ later work for the Russian government’s RT news, this article citing Russia’s state owned RIA Novosti is especially interesting: “Several Arab press publications reported that hundreds of bin Laden’s “Arab Afghans” were already being trained in southern Iraq… even Moscow’s Novosti reported on January 31, 1999 that ‘hundreds of Afghan Arabs are undergoing sabotage training in Southern Iraq and are preparing for armed actions on the Iraqi-Kuwaiti border. They have declared as their goal a fight against the interests of the United States in the region…” “The Four-Day War: Who did Saddam Hussein turn to after President Clinton launched Operation Desert Fox? Osama bin Laden”. by Thomas Joscelyn 07/19/2005 https://web.archive.org/web/20060224190646/http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/005/850ikvwv.asp?pg=2

While Russia claimed it was against the Iraq war, it is possible that they saw it as a chance to bog the US down in a long war, like the Soviet Union was bogged down in Afghanistan. Additionally, Russia appears to be friendly with Islamic terrorists, despite its claims to the contrary. Russia is certainly friendly with Iran – Saddam’s biggest enemy.

Hedges reported for The New York Times from 1990 to 2005,and served as the Times Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief during the wars in the former Yugoslavia. In 2001, Hedges contributed to The New York Times staff entry that received the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for the paper’s coverage of global terrorism…. Hedges hosted the television program On Contact for RT America from 2016 to 2022…
In his early career, Hedges worked as a freelance war correspondent in Central America for The Christian Science Monitor, NPR, and Dallas Morning News.

Ahmad Chalabi, key Iraq invasion proponent, dies at 71.” BS/AP November 3, 2015, 7:50 AM BAGHDAD – Ahmad Chalabi, a prominent Iraqi politician who helped convince the Bush administration to launch the 2003 invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein by providing false evidence of weapons of mass destruction, has died of a heart attack… After the Sept. 11 attacks, Chalabi played a key role in convincing the administration that the Iraqi government had weapons of mass destruction and ties to al Qaeda, unfounded claims at the heart of the case for war…. Chalabi’s relationship with the U.S. soured in the months after the invasion, and in 2004 U.S. forces raided his home based on suspicions that he was funneling intelligence to Iran….” https://web.archive.org/web/20151106034058/https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ahmad-chalabi-key-iraq-invasion-proponent-dies-at-71/

Chalabi’s Lebanese Shi’a father-in-law: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adel_Osseiran

Al-Qaida ‘planted information to encourage US invasion’” By Richard Norton-Taylor Fri 17 Nov 2006 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2006/nov/17/iraq.usa

Heroes in Error: How a fake general, a pliant media, and a master manipulator helped lead the United States into war”, By Jack Fairweather, March-April 2006, Mother Jones https://archive.is/fk5I0

The Press’s Reported on WMD: Who got it wrong, who got it right, and how FRONTLINE fared”. https://web.archive.org/web/20070307050658/https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/newswar/part1/wmd.html

Heroes in Error: How a fake general, a pliant media, and a master manipulator helped lead the United States into war.” Jack Fairweather, Mother Jones https://web.archive.org/web/20220406234339/https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2006/03/heroes-error/

Iran would appear to be the happiest to see Saddam overthrown. Saddam was a secular Pan-Arab Ba’athist from a Sunni background, and Iran is a Non-Arab Shi’a Islamic state. The majority of Iraq’s population is Shi’a. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shia_Islam_in_Iraq#Baathist_regime Then, of course, there was Iraq’s invasion of Iran:

Does Chris Hedges work for Iran? Or Russia? Or is he simply so anti-American that he prefers Russia and a country run by Shi’a Muslim clerics? So, why didn’t he move to one of them? “Chris Hedges: Fair Play For Iran”, By James Kirchick, November 23, 2007, The New Republic “Chris Hedges is perhaps the shrillest of today’s left-wing chicken littles — no small feat, that — whose decline into paranoia has been made all the more fascinating by just how quickly he has sunk (Hedges was not always a polemicist; in the 1990’s, he was the Middle East bureau chief of The New York Times). His latest piece in The Nation, however, entitled “Hands Off Iran,” rivals Naomi Wolf in its sheer descent into loony-toons territory…https://web.archive.org/web/20170517130129/https://newrepublic.com/article/38234/chris-hedges-fair-play-iran

How Chalabi Played the Press”, by Douglas McCollam, 2004, CJR: “Nonetheless, the Salman Pak story gained traction in the press…. Chris Hedges of The New York Times wrote a page-one piece headlined DEFECTORS CITE IRAQI TRAINING FOR TERRORISM. In it Hedges used three INC-supplied defectors: Khodada; the Ankara-based defector (later identified in other stories as Abu Zeinab al-Qurairy, a former Iraqi general and senior officer in the Mukhabarat, the Iraqi intelligence service); and an Iraqi sergeant, also from the Mukhabarat. The two intelligence officers in the story spoke of groups of forty to fifty Islamic militants being trained in the camp at a time, performing drills on how to hijack a plane without using weapons. The two defectors also told of a guarded compound within Salman Pak where a German scientist was producing biological weapons. The article included several caveats about the information, but noted that such stories would probably fuel “an intense debate in Washington over whether to extend the war against Osama bin Laden and the Taliban government of Afghanistan to include Iraq…

Hedges’s article, and another by him that followed a few days later, was the result of a joint project of the Times and the PBS series Frontline, which produced a related documentary called GUNNING FOR SADDAM. When I talked to Hedges about his Salman Pak stories, he said they were based on interviews with sources identified by Lowell Bergman, a correspondent for Frontline and also a reporter for the Times…

He confirms that the meetings with the defectors for his stories for the Times and Frontline were set up by the INC …
“They were very present, shepherding and arranging things,” Hedges recalls. He felt “pretty certain” that the person in charge of the meetings was the now-wanted Aras Habib. At the time there was no reason to question Bergman’s reporting, he says…

Two or three times a year during his stint in Paris, Hedges says he got calls from the Times asking him to check out INC defector stories. “Chalabi would say something to New York and the next thing I know I’m on a train heading for London,” Hedges says. He had known Chalabi for more than a decade, Hedges adds, but never trusted him. “I thought he was unreliable and corrupt, but just because someone is a sleazebag doesn’t mean he might not know something or that everything he says is wrong.” One story that set off warning bells for him, Hedges says, was Chalabi’s attempt to push a story about the 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta’s meeting with Iraqi intelligence agents in Prague. The meeting, which received wide play in the media, was later dismissed by the CIA as fiction….

Chalabi seemed to have an “endless stable” of defectors to talk with reporters, he adds. “He had defectors for any story you wanted. He tried to introduce me to this guy who said he knew about Iraqi spies on the UN inspection teams: the guy was a thug. I didn’t trust either of them.” ….
Understandably, the possibility that an Iranian spy was managing the INC’s Iraqi defector program fills some reporters on Qanbar’s list with anxiety. “I’d be shocked and completely horrified if Aras was working for Iranian intelligence,” says David Rose, who wrote several pieces for Vanity Fair about Iraq’s weapons program in which he used INC defectors as sources. “I knew INC had connections to Iran but if they were on the Iranian payroll I’ll be completely smackered.
”… https://web.archive.org/web/20040703025203/https://www.cjr.org/issues/2004/4/mccollam-list.asp
Well, it looks like there may have been spies on the UN inspection teams, after all! But, whose spies? “In early 1998 an inspection by Mr Ritter’s team led to the most serious confrontation between Baghdad and the UN since the Gulf War, and eventually to Unscom leaving Iraq. In August 1998, Mr Ritter resigned from his job, accusing the Security Council and the United States of caving in to the Iraqis. To compel Iraq into compliance, he told the BBC that year: “Iraq should be subjected to a major campaign that seeks to destroy the regime of Saddam Hussein.”…. Soon after his high-profile resignation, Mr Ritter was back in the headlines with further criticism of Washington and the UN Only this time he accused Western powers of being too tough, rather than too soft, on the Iraqis…” (“Profile: Scott Ritter, 2002http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2247600.stm Whatever happens to these guys who go to the Middle East? “Former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter has been found guilty of unlawful contact with a minor following an online sex sting operation. Ritter, an outspoken critic of the war in Iraq, had a sexually graphic online chat in 2009 with an undercover police officer posing as a 15-year-old girl named Emily…. A decade ago, Mr Ritter was charged in New York with trying to set up a meeting with an undercover police officer posing as a 16-year-old girl. Those charges… were dismissed after he completed six months of probation…” “Ex-UN inspector Scott Ritter guilty in sex chat case” 15 April 2011 https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-13089135

Al-Qaida ‘planted information to encourage US invasion’
By Richard Norton-Taylor Fri 17 Nov 2006 00.11 GMT
A senior al-Qaida operative deliberately planted information to encourage the US to invade Iraq, a double agent who infiltrated the network and spied for western intelligence agencies claimed last night.

The claim was made by Omar Nasiri, a pseudonym for a Moroccan who says he spent seven years working for European security and intelligence agencies, including MI5. He said Ibn Sheikh al-Libi, who ran training camps in Afghanistan, told his US interrogators that al-Qaida had been training Iraqis.

Libi was captured in November 2001 and taken to Egypt where he was allegedly tortured. Asked on BBC2’s Newsnight whether Libi or other jihadists would have told the truth if they were tortured, Nasiri replies: “Never”.

Asked whether he thought Libi had deliberately planted information to get the US to fight Iraq, Nasiri said: “Exactly”.

Nasiri said Libi “needed the conflict in Iraq because months before I heard him telling us when a question was asked in the mosque after the prayer in the evening, where is the best country to fight the jihad?” Libi said Iraq was chosen because it was the “weakest” Muslim country.

It is known that under interrogation, Libi misled Washington. His claims were seized on by George Bush, vice-president, Dick Cheney, and Colin Powell, secretary of state, in his address to the security council in February, 2003, which argued the case for a pre-emptive war against Iraq.

Though he did not name Libi, Mr Powell said “a senior terrorist operative” who “was responsible for one of al-Qaida’s training camps in Afghanistan” had told US agencies that Saddam Hussein had offered to train al-Qaida in the use of “chemical or biological weapons”.

What is new, if Nasiri is to be believed, is that the leading al-Qaida operative wanted to overthrow Saddam and use Iraq as a jihadist base. Nasiri also says that part of al-Qaida training was to withstand interrogation and provide false information…
Excerpt courtesy of Guardian News & Media Ltd. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2006/nov/17/iraq.usa

Also reported here: “Al-Qaeda ‘lured US into Iraq’..”, 2006 Scottish Daily Record, “Al-Qaeda wanted America to invade Iraq and deliberately planted evidence in a bid to provoke the war…. The stunning allegation was made by a man who says he spent seven years as a western spy inside the terror network. Omar Nasiri claimed that a senior al-Qaeda figure tried to lure the Americans into war. He said US agents captured the man, Ibn Sheikh Al-Libi, in 2001 and handed him to the authorities in Egypt…https://www.thefreelibrary.com/Al-Qaeda+%27lured+US+into+Iraq%27.-a0154531499