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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Oil for Food: Galloway excused, politely

Posted by: Hammer / 11:37 AM

I don't know whether it will be archived, but George Galloway has just been excused from his appearance before Smilin' Norm's inquisition. Audio was here (the 9:30 a.m. meeting at SD-106). Audio is done, now, and I don't see any archives on Capital

Smilin' Norm's charges against Galloway come to this:

In his opening statement at the meeting, subcommittee chairman Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., said more than $300,000 in surcharges were paid to Saddam's regime in allocations involving Galloway.

"Senior Hussein regime officials informed the subcommittee that the allocation holders - in this case, Galloway - were ultimately responsible for the surcharge payment and, therefore, would have known of the illegal, under-the-table payment," he said.

Speaking to reporters before the hearing began, Galloway said the subcommittee's investigation was intended to take attention away from failed U.S. efforts in Iraq.

"It's the mother of all smokescreens," he said.

While Coleman goes after Galloway over $300,000, he gives the administration a free pass:
The United States administration turned a blind eye to extensive sanctions-busting in the prewar sale of Iraqi oil, according to a new Senate investigation.

A report released last night by Democratic staff on a Senate investigations committee presents documentary evidence that the Bush administration was made aware of illegal oil sales and kickbacks paid to the Saddam Hussein regime but did nothing to stop them.

The scale of the shipments involved dwarfs those previously alleged by the Senate committee against UN staff and European politicians like the British MP, George Galloway, and the former French minister, Charles Pasqua.

In fact, the Senate report found that US oil purchases accounted for 52% of the kickbacks paid to the regime in return for sales of cheap oil - more than the rest of the world put together.

"The United States was not only aware of Iraqi oil sales which violated UN sanctions and provided the bulk of the illicit money Saddam Hussein obtained from circumventing UN sanctions," the report said. "On occasion, the United States actually facilitated the illicit oil sales. "

In particular, Bayoil, a Texas company is charged with paying $37 million in kickbacks. Why does Smilin' Norm care about Galloway and not about Bayoil? Two reasons: one, Smilin' Norm cravenly pursues the approval of the Black Helicopter Right; two, Bayoil didn't oppose the invasion of Iraq.

The Herald UK reports:

...Galloway is "absolutely determined" to refute claims that he lined his pockets by accepting vouchers for millions of barrels of oil from Saddam Hussein when he appears for a showdown with US senators in Washington [this morning].

The leader of the anti-war Respect party insisted he would hold American leaders to account for what he believes are their crimes in Iraq....

He specifically criticized Norm Coleman, the subcommittee's Republican chairman, who claimed Mr Galloway had earned money from the OFF programme, although he conceded he had not seen the MP's bank account. Last night, the Scot said: "I'm going to insist he backs that statement up or withdraws it."

He said of the subcommittee that "by and large, they are vociferous supporters of Israel, vociferous supporters of the war and haters of the UN".

Frankly, I'm not sure what Israel has to do with it. Perhaps Galloway is a raving anti-Semite. I don't enough about to him make an informed judgment. Factually, of course, Galloway is more or less correct -- Coleman and the administration, are obviously strong supporters of Israel, particular in comparison to European views on the Palestinian conflict. They supported the war and are critical of the United Nations. Galloway's repeated references to Israel and AIPAC make me uneasy, but I'm not prepared to brand him yet.


Galloway can't stand Sharon's Israel, but made it quite clear to prosecuting counsel - from a witness box in London, I think - that his dissent includes nuance; there's Sharon's Israel, and there's the Jewish people.

I think he won a libel suit over this issue.

Melbourne, Oz

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:13 PM  

I hope you're right. I am not nearly as pro-Sharon as most American politicians. I think America's one-sided support for Israel has created many more problems than it has solved. Unfortunately, that political opinion is shared by many people who oppose Israel and Jews based on bigotry.

By Blogger Hammer, at 8:55 AM  

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