The War, The Media, and Ahmed Chalabi

By Chris Ariens 

As the fifth anniversary of the Iraq War is marked, and the 4,000th U.S. troop death is reported, an NBC News investigative producer is taking a look back at the man who aided the American cause for war.

In The Man Who Pushed America to War, NBC News investigative producer Aram Roston examines the “exile, fraudster [and] statesman” Ahmad Chalabi and how he duped journalists in the run-up to war. Roston tells TVNewser, “Television and print reporters were vital to Ahmad Chalabi’s efforts, and he and his team were brilliant at planting exclusives, fostering relationships with journalists and building up momentum for stories.”

Roston, who works with the Lisa Myers-led investigative unit at NBC’s Washington Bureau, took some time off to write the book. He talked with producers and writers who received the “scoops” many of whom now feel they were misled by Chalabi and his loyalists. “After the Al Qaeda attacks of 9/11 in 2001, Chalabi’s people pushed forward stories and sources that made it seem that Saddam had ties to Bin Laden and had a huge WMD program,” says Roston. 60 Minutes, ABC News, Vanity Fair, and the New York Times were among the outlets left exposed.

“What most of the TV and print reporters weren’t really aware of was that Chalabi’s people used U.S. taxpayer funding to pay all that PR and propaganda,” Roston says. In fact, Chalabi and his team were so good at spin, they were even rewarded for it. Says Roston, “After the invasion, the INC [Iraqi National Congress] and its PR firm won an award from PR Week lauding them for their publicity skills.”

Related: The Salon review