Glenn Greenwald's excellent cover story on the Ayad Allawi offensive talked about the role of Phillip Zelikow, a close associate of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in the right-wing effort to help Allawi topple Nouri al-Maliki. Zelikow staffed the 9/11 Commission and then became "counselor" to Rice on Iraq, but according to CNN and other news reports, he now works for GOP heavyweight lobbying firm Barbour Griffith & Rogers, which just signed a $300,000 contract to represent Allawi in the U.S. Yet Zelikow is still holding himself out as an official expert on Iraq, Greenwald noted, without disclosing his ties to the lobbying firm.
On Tuesday night, ABC News correspondent Martha Raddatz quoted him saying the administration had a "Plan B" alternative to Maliki. "I can confidently guess that our government is quietly speculating about a lot of different options knowing how much concern Iraqis have about their leadership." But Zelikow was identified only as a "Former Counselor to the State Department," not part of the firm paid to push Allawi.
Today Glenn received this e-mail from ABC News Public Relations:
"When ABC News interviewed Philip Zelikow on August 21, he did not disclose that he was working for Barbour Griffith & Rogers; this information did not become public until several days later. We are deeply disappointed that Mr. Zelikow did not disclose his lobbying relationship to us. As a former advisor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and now a professor at the University of Virginia, we believe that his statement to us accurately reflects ongoing, internal discussions at the State Department. Nevertheless, his statement is sullied by the fact that he did not disclose his relationship with Barbour Griffith & Rogers."
I can't remember the last time I saw such a stinging repudiation of an official source by an American news organization. (Unfortunately, so far ABC has only posted the news on this blog, rather than inform its viewers in the news broadcast.) The bigger story seems to be collusion at the highest levels of the GOP establishment to topple Maliki, while President Bush claims that leadership change can only come from the Iraqi people. There's a lot more behind this story, but I'm proud Glenn uncovered this piece of it. We hope he'll have more this weekend. Stay tuned.