May 13, 2005

Spotlight Again On Galloway

You never know where Claudia Rosett's byline is going to turn up next, but whether its at Opinion Journal, the New York Sun, or like yesterday at NRO, she's the preeminent reporter on the Oil-For-Food scandal. Her latest update revisits the "Al-Mada list", the compilation of names of politicians, diplomats, journalists and organizations that had reportedly received oil vouchers from Saddam that were worth hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars to each recipient. We noted it here when it was first published early last year in a Baghdad newspaper and MEMRI translated it on their site.

Senator Norm Coleman's Senate subcommittee has now issued a report (in pdf format) that unravels how Saddam bought influence and rewarded supporters British MP George Galloway and former French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua. Galloway and Pasqua both deny receiving bribes, but former Iraqi officials have been talking...

The importance of this Senate report goes well beyond those two names, however. Using documents from Saddam’s own records, supplemented by interviews with officials of the former Saddam regime, Senate investigators are uncovering detailed new evidence that Oil-for-Food served as a vehicle for Saddam to thwart sanctions, fund terrorists, and buy political influence within the U.N.’s own Security Council.

Citing interviews with Saddam’s former deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz, former vice president Taha Yassin Ramadan, and an unnamed former senior Iraqi official, the Senate report says that Iraq's Baathist regime, in doling out rights to buy cheap oil through the U.N. program, “gave priority to foreign officials, journalists and even terrorist entities.” Ramadan, Saddam’s former vice president, told Senate investigators that such oil allocations were “compensation for support.” According to the report, the list of terrorists named by these Iraqi officials as engaging in this quid pro quo includes “the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Abu Abbas, and the Mujahedeen-e Khalq.”

Another of the report’s findings is especially interesting in light not only of Saddam’s subversion of Oil-for-Food to bust sanctions, but also as context for the hot debate within the U.N. Security Council just prior to the U.S.-led military overthrow of Saddam in 2003. The report explains that the prime targets of Saddam’s scheme to buy influence were “individuals and entities from countries on the U.N. Security Council.” Both documents and interviews with former senior officials of Saddam’s regime confirm that “The regime steered a massive portion of its allocations toward Security Council members that were believed by the Hussein regime to support Iraq in its efforts to lift sanctions — namely, Russia, France, and China.”

I've read the Senate Subcomittee report, and the evidence against Galloway and Pasqua is convincing. Documents from the Iraqi Oil Ministry, confirmed by testimony from top government officials of the Saddam regime. No, there are no records of Galloway's personal bank accounts to prove conclusively that he received cash payments, but it sure looks, walks and quacks like a duck. Galloway has said he is willing to testify in front of the Coleman subcommittee. I trust Sen. Coleman won't let this despicable, corrupt blowhard turn the hearing into a circus.

Much more on the story at Harry's Place (keep scrolling), Pejmanesque and Power Line.

Posted by dan at May 13, 2005 4:47 PM