Hitchens then turned the subject back to Chalabi, his good friend. I asked him if he thought Chalabi had been passing American intelligence to the Iranians. “No,” he insisted. “It’s possible that with his training, you know, at [The University of] Chicago that with his own ability he was able to crack the codes. He is a mathematical genius. His expertise is cryptology. It is possible that he broke the codes himself.” (This is a paraphrase since I was walking down M Street and crossing Connecticut Avenue all while being amazed that I was having an actual conversation with Christopher Hitchens at the time). Now, I don’t believe this for one second. Why would Chalabi be trying to break American codes in his spare time anyway?”

(commentators on this anecdote, which is from a week or so back, have pointed out that a. even real genius cryptologists don’t crack codes on the back of a napkin which running a country tumbling into civil war, and b. chalabi’s published (mathematical) expertise is in knot theory)