Senators Will Play Nice if Chalabi Is Picked to Lead Iraq

Hadi Mizban/AP file photo

Senate Republicans and Democrats express a common sentiment when asked what they think of Ahmad Chalabi.

"Not much, but it's not my decision," said Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California.

"I wouldn't buy a car from him," said Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

Chalabi, 69, has been named as a candidate to replace Nuri Kamal al-Maliki as prime minister of Iraq. His lasting political presence is almost puzzling, given his bad reputation in the United States for supplying false intelligence about weapons of mass destruction to the Bush administration that was used to justify the invasion of Iraq.

Whether U.S. officials want to work with Chalabi—or trust him—is a question that's off the table for the senators. "That's up to the Iraqis as to who they pick," said Democratic Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin. "They'll choose whoever they want to choose, and obviously we'll do the best we can to work with whoever they choose."

Graham and McCain also expressed the feeling that their hands were tied. "We'll deal with him, but the trust level between me and Chalabi is very low," Graham said.

"I oppose him being the next prime minister of Iraq," McCain said. "But if he was, you have to" deal with it.

None of the senators felt that the U.S. should get involved in the selection of Iraq's next head of state. The Iraqi Parliament announced Tuesday it would meet next week to discuss a new government.

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