Salem Chalabi

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Nephew of Ahmed Chalabi, Salem Chalabi is a U.S.-educated lawyer and the head of the U.S.-formed tribunal to investigate and try former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. According to Australian radio, as of late April 2004, Salem had "appointed the seven judges and four prosecutors who will try Saddam Hussein and others from his regime who will be charged by the new tribunal."[1]

According to Counterpunch columnist Dave Lindorff, the problem with Salem's heading the Hussein tribunal isn't "just that his uncle is Ahmed. Salem himself is linked directly to the Bush administration. His business partner Mark Zell runs a law firm in partnership with U.S. Undersecretary of Defense and long-time neo-conservative Iraqi War hawk Douglas Jay Feith - whose office oversees the graft and scandal-ridden reconstruction program in Iraq."[2]

Lindorff criticized the lack of U.S. media attention to the perceived conflicts of interest: "CNN, in an interview with Salem Chalabi back in December, when he was already being described as an 'architect' of the coming tribunal, didn't once ask him about the propriety or wisdom of his playing a key role in that tribunal. Neither did the Washington Post... A Google search of the mainstream media turns up no questioning of Salem Chalabi's role as director general. Even National Public Radio... ran a piece this week (April 27, 2004) interviewing Salem Chalabi about the tribunal without once asking him the Journalism 101 question about his conflict of interest in the case or the propriety of his serving as director general of the tribunal."[3]

The British newspaper Guardian reported that Salem Chalabi was "until recently... a peripheral figure in the political machinations over Iraq. The only information about him given on the IILG website is that he 'formerly' worked for Clifford Chance, a firm of London solicitors. Oddly, Clifford Chance denied yesterday that he had left their firm. Rather they said he is still employed by them but is currently on sabbatical." Just prior to the March 2003 U.S. invasion, "Salem Chalabi took part in a conference on bringing democracy to Iraq and pushed for a post-war truth and reconciliation commission on the South African model. Later, during the invasion, the Pentagon sought to appoint him as adviser to the ministry of justice, working in Jay Garner's ill-fated project to take over the administration of Iraq."[4]

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