McCain and Scheunemann’s Iran Connection

In the wake of John McCain’s latest tacit admission that he’s got nothing to offer Americans other than fear itself — last month it was Iran, last week it was Russia, today it’s Iran again — it’s worth pointing out that John McCain and his foreign policy adviser Randy Scheunemann have a longstanding relationship with an Iranian collaborator.

I’m referring of course to Ahmad Chalabi, the notorious Iraqi former exile who was the source of much of the bad WMD intelligence used by the Bush administration to justify the Iraq war. Chalabi has now been effectively disavowed by the administration because of his connections to Iranian regime, including the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, who the U.S. has designated a “foreign terrorist organization.”

McCain and Scheunemann were early supporters of Chalabi. In 1998, on the basis of an erroneous WMD report which Scheunemann had leaked to Chalabi — and which Chalabi then leaked to the press — McCain led the passage of the Iraq Liberation Act. The act made regime change in Iraq the official policy of the U.S government, and authorized the release millions of U.S. dollars to Chalabi’s organization, the Iraqi National Congress, much of which remains unaccounted for.

Scheunemann was a major player in the neoconservative faction that saw an Iraq war as a necessary first step in reordering the security architecture of the Middle East, and who saw the 9/11 attacks as an opportunity to realize that goal. Scheunemann served as president of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq (CLI), a front organization founded in 2002 in collaboration with members of the Bush administration to lobby for an Iraq invasion. CLI worked closely with Chalabi’s INC, and McCain served as an honorary co-chair of CLI.


In June 2004, the New York Times reported that, according to U.S. intelligence officials, Chalabi had “disclosed to an Iranian official that the United States had broken the secret communications code of Iran’s intelligence service, betraying one of Washington’s most valuable sources of information about Iran.”

In his book on Chalabi, investigative reporter Aram Roston quoted CIA analyst Whitley Bruner, who believes Chalabi to have been an “agent of influence” of Iran:

It became a question to me: what were his long-term objectives, and where, other than himself, are there allegiances? I think when he thinks big, Iran plays a major role. I guess I come belatedly to the idea that there was a very close sense of identity with Chalabi in terms of Iran, and a very emotional tie. Whereas the Americans were always just a means to an end. We were much more of an instrument. The Iranian role was long-term.

Newsday’s Knute Royce reported that “The Defense Intelligence Agency has concluded that a U.S.-funded arm of Ahmed Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress has been used for years by Iranian intelligence…to pass disinformation to the United States and to collect highly sensitive American secrets.”

Ahmad Chalabi viewed the United States, and the men and women of the American military, as mere instruments for the achieving of his goals. This is the man who John McCain defended as “a patriot.” An INC representative recently described Scheunemann and Chalabi as “close friends.”


In a sane world, McCain and Scheunemann’s longstanding relationship with a man whose betrayal of U.S. secrets very likely got American soldiers killed would disqualify both of them from any position related to U.S national security. But because of McCain’s special relationship with the press, he’ll probably be given another pass over the fact that he and Randy got played.