King Abdullah of Jordan has agreed to pardon Ahmed Chalabi, the controversial Iraqi political leader, who was sentenced to 22 years in prison for fraud after his bank collapsed with $300m in missing deposits in 1989.
Jalal Talabani, the Iraqi President, asked the king to resolve the differences between Jordan and Mr Chalabi, now Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq, during a visit to Ammanthis week.
But Talabani’s not the only one, according to New Yorker journalist Sy Hersh, who was asked about Chalabi’s pardon yesterday:
Here’s what I know about that. … [T]his is about nine months ago — [King Abdullah] was stunned. He was seeing [President Bush]. The President said, you know, “Your” — whatever he calls him — “I have a favor.” He said, “Of course, anything.” “I want you to pardon Chalabi.” And he was stunned, because, you know, how can he pardon Chalabi after what he had done. The money he stole was from old women and children, you know, little funds, and he was reviled, Chalabi. … In any case, he was stunned, and he didn’t know what to say. He went back and he asked people in the parliament, who said, “Are you kidding?” So all I can tell you is that Abdullah is doing what the President of the United States [asked], to his amazing shock, because this was after the stuff came out about Chalabi and his connection to Iran. … I can categorically tell you this is Abdullah’s story, this I do know. And he was stunned.
Remember, just last month Vice President Cheney was sending friendly smoke signals to Chalabi, telling the New York Sun, “I know Mr. Chalabi myself. I’ve met with him. I wouldn’t have any problems meeting with him today.”