WASHINGTON, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- One of the Iraq government's critical tasks to pacify the country is to rein in the excesses of de-Baathification.
The man in charge of the effort is Ahmad Chalabi, the controversial Iraqi Shiite ex-patriate who formerly headed the Iraqi National Congress, lobbied hard for regime change, and was a key link in the chain of inaccurate intelligence about Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction program.
A top State Department official told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Thursday that Chalabi's de-Baathification committee is not making the changes needed to ease the economic and political restrictions on former Baathists. Many were part of the Baath Party only because it was required of them by the regime but are now sidelined and are believed to be fueling the insurgency. Thousands of Iraq's most educated and capable technocrats, professors and industrial leaders were put out of work and told they had no future in Iraq when the United States issued the de-Baaatification order in June 2003.
"The initial outlinings of the reforms proposed, frankly, are not adequate to meet the needs of meaningful national reconciliation. They need to be changed," said Amb. David Satterfield,
"The prime minister has articulated, publicly, a very expansive intent with respect to de-Baathification reform. But (it)needs to be translated from rhetoric into reality, and it needs to happen soon," Satterfield said.
Committee chairman Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) expressed concern that so much is riding on Chalabi's leadership.
"I find him to be a duplicitous individual, and I have no faith -- and I think he's one of our giant problems and continues to be," Biden said.