Ahmad Chalabi likes to sleep in. He does his work at night, engaging in endless back-room meetings and talk sessions that often drag on past midnight. On most days he rises late and eats breakfast alone--but last Thursday his wake-up call came early. At 10 a.m., five armored humvees pulled up outside Chalabi's two-story house in west Baghdad. While U.S. soldiers cordoned off the street, seven Iraqi police officers broke down the front door and stormed the living room.
Chalabi stumbled downstairs to find cops rummaging through his effects and preparing to arrest one of his drivers. "What are you doing here?" he said. "Get out of my house." Upon recognizing Chalabi, a police captain put down his gun and produced arrest warrants for seven of Chalabi's lieutenants. The captain insisted that the raid wasn't at his instigation. "He had no idea whose house it was," says Haider Musawi, an aide to Chalabi. "He said they were just following American orders."
For Chalabi, who four months ago could still boast of Oval Office privileges, being targeted in his own home by his former patrons was stunning enough. But he could do nothing to stop what happened next. An hour and a half after the police finished searching Chalabi's house, a second contingent of cops burst into a compound several blocks away--an ornate mansion known as China House, which serves as the headquarters of Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress (I.N.C.). The Iraqis pointed guns at Chalabi's guards and ordered them to load the police vehicles with the office's computers, documents and files. Outside, a group of Americans dressed in civilian clothes watched with approval while smoking Cuban cigars and drinking sodas taken from Chalabi's office fridge. An I.N.C. official tells TIME the Americans identified themselves as FBI and CIA but refused to show identification. "The Americans were sitting there, egging on the Iraqis," says the official. "They sat on the veranda saying things like 'Good job, keep at it.'" Then the Iraqis ransacked the place, seizing weapons, ripping down pictures of Chalabi's father, even confiscating a copy of the Koran. An Iraqi officer smashed a framed photograph of the Pentagon's favorite exile himself. "Chalabi is finished," he said.