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No TV Cameras Allowed as Chalabi Meets Rumsfeld for Talks

November 15, 2005|From Reuters

WASHINGTON — Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Chalabi, once embraced and then shunned by the Bush administration, held talks with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Monday, but the Pentagon did not allow television cameras to record any part of the visit.

Chalabi also held a meeting at the White House with Vice President Dick Cheney, but Cheney's office would not provide any details.

Chalabi's trip has angered Iraq war critics, who have denounced the visit of the man most associated with discredited prewar intelligence on Iraq.

Democratic lawmakers have demanded to know why Chalabi was meeting with top U.S. officials despite allegations that he had passed American secrets to Iran, and they urged congressional committees to subpoena him for testimony. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met Chalabi last week but did not appear publicly with him.

A senior U.S. Defense Department official said Rumsfeld and Chalabi discussed the importance of protecting Iraq's oil and electricity grids from insurgent attacks and improving intelligence-gathering by U.S.-led military forces in Iraq.

Explaining the Pentagon's decision to prohibit cameras from recording Chalabi's arrival, spokesman Bryan Whitman said: "He's not a minister of defense. This is not typically the level of official that we would do photo opportunities."

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