Randy Scheunemann — A Chalabyist

randy-and-john.JPGUSA Today reports on the lobbying career of John McCain’s top foreign policy adviser Randy Scheunemann, noting that Schuenemann “lobbied the Arizona senator’s staff on behalf of the republic of Georgia while he was working for the campaign”:

Randy Scheunemann, founder of Orion Strategies, represented the governments of Macedonia, Georgia and Taiwan between 2003 and March 1, according to the firm’s filings with the Justice Department. In its latest semiannual report, the firm disclosed that Scheunemann had a phone conversation in November about Georgia with Richard Fontaine, an aide in McCain’s Senate office.

As the article notes, in his capacity as McCain’s spokesman, Scheunemann often comments on issues directly relating to his firms’ clients. This was the case in an interview Scheunemann gave to Radio Liberty last month, in which Scheunemann attacked Russia’s policy toward Georgia while neglecting to disclose that he had been a paid lobbyist for Georgia until as late as December 2007.

The article notably does not mention one of the Chalabyist’s most significant and successful lobbying operations: the invasion of Iraq. Scheunemann served as president of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, a neoconservative front group created in 2002. CLI coordinated with the Bush White House to gin up public support for the Iraq war by buttressing and echoing the administration’s various dubious claims about the threat posed by Saddam, and the quickness and ease of a war to remove him.

Part of Scheunemann’s work for the CLI was promoting convicted embezzler and WMD fantasist Ahmad Chalabi as the “new Iraqi Ataturk,” and Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress as a “government in exile.” In a 2003 NewsHour interview, Scheunemann defended Chalabi’s “vision” for Iraq, claiming that Chalabi was opposed for “ideological reasons” by the State Department and the CIA, who, it turns out, were precisely correct about Chalabi’s untrustworthiness.

Scheunemann also managed to convince John McCain that Chalabi was “a patriot with the interest of Iraq at heart.” Note that this “Iraqi patriot” has now been disavowed by the Bush administration, judged to be an “agent of influence” of Iran. Chalabi is suspected to have tipped off Iran that the U.S. had broken secret Iranian codes, as well as passing Iraqi government documents to Iranian agents. Back in 2004, the Defense Intelligence Agency concluded that “Iranian intelligence has been manipulating the United States through Chalabi.” Needless to say, none of this speaks very well of Scheunemann’s judgement, or John McCain’s.

UPDATE: Think Progress has more on Charlie Black, another former Chalabyist who works for McCain.