More dispatches from the George Galloway desk …

by Daniel on October 30, 2005

Sorry this has been a few days in coming, I’ve been tied up. So anyway, is he going to jail or not? My summary advice to both sides would be, don’t get your hopes up. I am getting a clearer picture of what actually went on between 1999 and 2001 with respect to Galloway, Iraq and oil, but there is still a big murky patch of uncertainty. I would also submit that Galloway is correct on one important point; despite the great big smile all over his face on the news, the Presidential hopes of Senator Norm Coleman are probably dead and buried and can’t be redeemed by getting Galloway – the secret is out that he is a flat-track bully who falls apart under pressure and anyone facing him in a debate from here to the end of time will know that. But anyway, what is the new news in the Senate Report [1]?

[1] Actually the majority (ie Republican) staff report from the committee but I do not think this detail is important.

Well, I’d first like to include by citation the summary of the charge that I wrote on the lbo-talk mailing list in May. It still pretty much stands up, and it will make this all a lot easier to understand if you read it. Shortly after writing it, I had to add the important revision that “the Charities Commission did not need Galloway’s copy of the Mariam Appeal’s accounts because they were able to subpoena his banking records, so this charge looks rather weaker to that extent”. This point is also quite important. (I have also underestimated the extent to which fraudulent payments continued under the post-1999 sanctions regime, which is important and misspelled Fawaz Zureikat’s name as “Faraz”, which is probably less so).

The trouble is that it is pretty easy (and always has been) to connect Gorgeous George to the money, but it has been much more difficult (and still is) to connect him to the oil. The payments that have come into Galloway’s wife’s account and into the Mariam Appeal have all come through middlemen. As anyone who has followed a fraud trial in detail will know, a third party in the middle who can keep his mouth shut is worth his weight in gold, because it is powerfully difficult for the prosecution to prove that you knew what was going on. And indeed, Galloway’s defence all along has been that although the money definitely did flow the way the Senate said it flowed (since the Charities Commission investigation there has been no point denying this), he himself had no idea of its source. If anyone wants to send him to jail, this is the defence that they’ve got to break and at present, Fawaz Zureikat is not answering the phone.

The perfect smoking gun would obviously be an unequivocal communication in the other direction. A note in GG’s handwriting saying “Dear Tariq, thanks for the oil, love George” would be just perfect. However, no such communication has been found so far and frankly, Galloway doesn’t strike me as the kind of chap who writes thankyou letters. So, something more circumstantial is probably going to be the best the prosecution will be able to get. What do they have?

Well, reading the Senate Report, the thing that really strikes me is how strong the Daily Telegraph’s case was. The letter that David Blair turned up in Baghdad is the main plank of the Senate Report and it has nearly everything that you would need in such a document. It is a record of a meeting between Fawaz Zuriekat, George Galloway and a member of Saddam’s intelligence services (the IIS; the letter is referred to in the report as “The IIS Letter”, although “The Daily Telegraph Letter” might be a bit fairer in giving credit where it’s due), minuting the discussion of oil allocations. More or less bingo. Except …

Except that it might not be genuine. There are two ways in which the document could be bogus. First, it might be a forgery, like the documents which showed up in the Christian Science Monitor. This seems unlikely at present; document experts have had a fairly intense look at this, and in all forms and details, it appears to check out for rogue superscripts, wrong type of paper, etc. But this isn’t the only way in which a document can be unreliable. It could be that it is a genuine record of a bogus meeting; that, for example, the IIS agent and Zuriekat decided between the two of them that they wouldn’t get the oil allocations unless they could convince the Iraqi government that Galloway was in the loop, so they cooked up a minute for the purpose. Something like this is, as far as I can tell, George Galloway’s fallback position in those moments when he isn’t questioning the very authenticity of the document itself. This is quite a difficult alibi to break, and is presumably why the Telegraph didn’t try for a defence of justification (truth) in the libel trial, given the extremely strong statements they’d made and the burden of proof in a British libel trial where this defence is being used.

So, given that the IIS Letter wasn’t considered strong enough to support a libel case, it seems unlikely to me that it would be strong enough evidence to support a criminal prosecution. What more have the Senate turned up?

Well, the only really new stuff in the Senate Report (some of the evidence on specific payments is new, but the general fact of the payments was well-known) is that they have three pieces of witness testimony. They have recorded comments from Tariq Aziz about his having discussed oil allocations with Galloway and interviews with two Iraqi oil traders who remember having been asked by him about the mechanics of trading in sanctions oil.

It is impossible to really judge the strength of this evidence. Frustratingly, although the report contains a number of verbatim quotations from the three witnesses, it does not quote them verbatim on the most important points, and at times the report seems annoyingly vague to the point of self-contradiction (in particular, on page 13, a subheading reads ” Galloway Personally Solicits Oil Allocations” but the text only actually quotes Tariq Aziz as recalling him soliciting “financial support for the Mariam Appeal”). It is possible that the Senate Committee has introduced a bit of spin into its summaries of the witness reports. But obviously, as an outsider there is no way for me to be sure of what the transcripts actually say; I’m working on the assumption that every summarised statement is accurate, but that the committee is presenting the strongest case it has (that there isn’t a lot more damning stuff in the transcripts). Of the three witnesses, we have the most detail on “Oil Trader #2”, because he gave a written statement which is provided as an exhibit, however, irritatingly enough, it turns out that #2 is not a particularly useful witness in breaking Galloway’s alibi, because he only ever actually spoke to Zureikat.

So, what do the transcripts say? Well, basically, there appear to have been two conversations which took place in 1999, when Galloway brought the “Big Ben To Baghdad” publicity stunt bus to Iraq. In a conversation with Tariq Aziz, he asked for the Iraqi government to fund the Mariam Appeal’s campaigning (it was previously more or less reliant on donations from a couple of Gulf State sheikhs). And shortly after this, he had a conversation with Oil Trader #1 after bumping into him at a hotel buffet, in which Oil Trader #1 explained how oil allocations were used by the Iraqi government as a slush fund to pay its mates (in return for kickbacks).

Sidebar: Here’s my summary of the oil-for-food fraud scam. Basically, the way the oil-for-food program worked is that the Iraqi government provided “allocations” to traders, which allowed them to buy oil from the Iraqi government at slightly less than the world market price, in return for dollars which were paid into a blocked account administered by the UN. The traders would then sell the oil at the market price and make a profit. So in other words, there were a set of “magic counters”, the allocation of which was entirely under the control of the Iraqi government, which could be converted into cash profit. Note that this was the way the scheme was intended to work. I must confess that once I understood the mechanics of the scam, I found it quite hard to understand why anyone was surprised that the Iraqi government used it as a slush fund. Given that the allocations were under the control of the Iraqi government, it is inconceivable that they would not have used this control to benefit themselves. Without exonerating the people who actually took the bribes, the special element of moral outrage at whole “UNSCAM” farrago appears to consist of a lot of people shouting “we are shocked, shocked, that this slush fund has been used as a slush fund”. Just to clarify a final detail, the Iraqis worked the system in two ways; they encouraged their overseas mates to set up oil trading companies to receive slush fund payments, and they required people who got allocations to make side payments into separate, non-blocked accounts.

The report also says that Tariq Aziz was asked by Gorgeous George to increase his allocations at two later dates. However, there is no letter saying “Dear Tariq, hope all is well, please send more oil, love George”, and the Senate Report certainly does not quote Aziz verbatim as saying that it was Galloway he had spoken to at these later dates. It therefore seems likely to me that these subsequent conversations could have been held with Zureikat, representing himself as Galloway’s agent, so the element of deniability creeps in again. I strongly suspect that the case against Galloway, if it ever reaches court, is going to have to rest on these two conversations.

In which case, to my unpractised eye it doesn’t look strong enough to put a man in jail. Even if we assume that Oil Trader #1 can be coaxed to shed his anonymity and get into a courtroom, and even if we assume that the testimony from Tariq Aziz was taken in such a way as to be admissible evidence itself and not to prejudice the trial (which two points I would not necessarily take as given), there are still two versions of reality which are consistent with the picture painted by those two conversations.

Version 1 Galloway rocks into town in 1999. He asks his mate Tariq for help. Tariq informs him that funds are tight, but that there is this dinky little trick they have worked out with the oil allocations. George goes back to his hotel and makes friends with an oil trader and tells him to expect a call pretty soon from his Baghdad fixer, Zureikat. George then tells Fawaz to sort it out, and the money rolls in over the next few years.

Version 2 Galloway rocks into town in 1999. He asks his mate Tariq for help. Tariq starts babbling on about oil; George doesn’t understand what’s going on but it sounds crooked. Later in the hotel, he finds out that his dining partner is in the oil business and tries to find out what’s going on. He gets it explained to him and it seems like the answer to his prayers, but on the way home, he decides that it’s all a bit dishonest and he wants nothing to do with it. He tells Fawaz about his odd conversations, and Fawaz says “don’t worry George”, with what might in retrospect have seemed like a knowing wink. The money rolls in over the next few years from courtesy of Fawaz and, poor unsuspecting innocent fool that he is, George never really thinks to inquire where it’s coming from.

To be honest, Version 2 seems pretty implausible to me. But would we be sure that Version 1 has been established beyond reasonable doubt? I suspect that the answer is no.

I take back none of my fairly negative assessment of Galloway’s character. I think it is actively dangerous for a (semi-)popular left movement to be so closely connected with a figure like him. I don’t like his habit of being cleared in the courts on fairly technical matters and loudly shouting that he has been definitively vindicated (a habit he shares with J. Archer and J Aitken, who also won lots of court cases, until they didn’t). And as I note above, I honestly can’t bring myself to believe that he was as ignorant of Fawaz Zureikat’s business affairs as he claims to be. In other words, I think he’s guilty, at least of the fairly minor charge that the Mariam Appeal received money from a UN-approved slush fund (it should be noted, by the way, that Galloway recorded the payments he received from the Mariam Appeal in the Register of Members’ interests; I think the Committee is wrong to say that there was any obligation on him to disclose where the Appeal got its money from – where would a chain of this sort end? The question of the payment to his wife, which he claims to be ignorant of, is another matter). He doesn’t appear to be guilty of the much more serious charge of being a bought-and-paid for advocate of the Iraqi government, since even the Senate Committee Report is now quite clear on the fact that Galloway was an active campaigner against sanctions even before the oil-for-food program began (by the way, the oil-for-food program did a hell of a lot of good for Iraqi infant mortality, so well done the pre-1999 anti-sanctions campaigners, a point that is not made nearly enough in this context). However, as far as I can tell, the joy in the anti-Galloway camp is premature for the minute.

Unless … if Fawaz Zureikat picks up that phone, or replies to the Senate Committee’s faxes and letters, things could get very nasty very quickly for Gorgeous George. That, I think, is the real potential smoking gun.

{ 1 trackback }

Dan O’Huiginn :: Galloway summary :: November :: 2005
11.02.05 at 5:56 pm

{ 59 comments }

1

Uncle Jimbo 10.30.05 at 6:58 pm

Dear Daniel,

Galloway is an amazing practitioner of the fine art of dissembling, and also “The Big Lie”.

Last month George Galloway and Jane Fonda were scheduled to speak here in Madison, WI. Fonda said she was sick, or sickening, whatever and no-showed. Galloway was there and I weaseled into the press conference with home made credentials and got four questions with him.

Worst thing is Galloway said to me “I’m beginning to think you’re an honest man” I’m asking you not to hold that against me, although I did get in a shot about disco dancing with Tariq Aziz. Story and video here:

Mr. Galloway comes to Madison\

Cordially,

Uncle J

2

John Quiggin 10.30.05 at 7:19 pm

I’ve always found the alleged provenance of the Baghdad letters dubious. As I understand it, the Telegraph claims their guy turned up at a building in the process of being looted, and happened to find the one piece of paper out of the millions presumably floating about that exactly met their requirements. Of course, they could have acquired a genuine document from a secret source and used this story as cover.

3

Daniel 10.30.05 at 7:39 pm

I’m pretty sure that they’re genuine documents (although I agree with you that the story of how they were found is a bit odd). For one thing, it was not really general knowledge in April 2003 that Fawaz Zureikat was Galloway’s main backer, so the number of people who would have known how to forge them would be pretty small. However, as I note above, their being genuine documents does not prove that they describe a genuine meeting.

4

Brian S. 10.30.05 at 8:02 pm

Probably worth mentioning that Saddam demanded control over allocations as his price for agreeing to the oil for food program – otherwise he’d just let his people starve (that’s my memory of it anyway). There were obvious problems with the structure, but with the Iraqi people being held hostage by their dictator, the alternatives weren’t good.

5

sonic 10.30.05 at 8:34 pm

Looks like more smoke and mirrors from the USA, still nothing than can even be spun as evidence against GG.

6

Luc 10.30.05 at 9:41 pm

For one thing, it was not really general knowledge in April 2003 that Fawaz Zureikat was Galloway’s main backer, so the number of people who would have known how to forge them would be pretty small.

Just for a bit of conspiracy, from Amnesty International (via wikipedia), Zureikat was arrested in Jordan for his pro-Iraqi activities in march 2003.

This means that anyone in the US/UK with access to their secret services knew about Zureikat, and that Zureikat already has spilled all that can be said about Galloway and the Mariam Appeal.

7

Sebastian Holsclaw 10.31.05 at 1:25 am

Without exonerating the people who actually took the bribes, the special element of moral outrage at whole “UNSCAM” farrago appears to consist of a lot of people shouting “we are shocked, shocked, that this slush fund has been used as a slush fund”. Just to clarify a final detail, the Iraqis worked the system in two ways; they encouraged their overseas mates to set up oil trading companies to receive slush fund payments, and they required people who got allocations to make side payments into separate, non-blocked accounts.

Without minimizing the fairly ugly nature of the non-bolded part, doesn’t the bolded part firmly put the actual functioning of the program into the bribery zone?

8

abb1 10.31.05 at 3:16 am

According to Wikipedia,

After the end of the 1991 Gulf War, Iraqi sanctions were linked to removal of Weapons of mass destruction by Resolution 687.

According to the Iraq Survey Group:
ISG judges that Iraq unilaterally destroyed its undeclared chemical weapons stockpile in 1991…

ISG judges that in 1991 and 1992, Iraq appears to have destroyed its undeclared stocks of BW weapons…

Thus the application of sanctions has been totally unjustified since 1992. It was a monumental failure.

I agree that corruption of the process (if it’s true) is disappointing, but how come there’s so much stink about Iraqi government getting 5% (or whatever it is) of what should’ve been 100% their? Where’s the outrage against the sanctions themselves?

9

Brendan 10.31.05 at 5:28 am

I think the hard question that has to be asked is: why is there this political vacuum that Galloway has managed to fill? Why aren’t mainstream Democrat politicians saying what he is saying? And why (with the Bush administration in free fall) aren’t the Democrats capitalising on this?

10

A Nonnie Mouse 10.31.05 at 6:31 am

Aziz denies naming British MP in graft probe: lawyer

Perhaps after further sessions at Abu Ghraib he will retract his retraction, but in the meantime Coleman’s “new evidence” just seems like bluster.

Mind you, it’s a handy distraction from the fact that oil smuggling contributed far more to Saddam’s coffers than the O-F-F programme, and that most of it went to the U.S., via Jordan and Turkey.

11

Dan Hardie 10.31.05 at 7:35 am

John Quiggin: ‘As I understand it, the Telegraph claims their guy turned up at a building in the process of being looted, and happened to find the one piece of paper out of the millions presumably floating about that exactly met their requirements.’

You understand completely wrong, John, as a quick search of the Telegraph’s online archives would have told you. David Blair says he turned up at the Interior Ministry, found looters taking things of value (eg computers) rather than files; asked his translator to find files marked ‘United Kingdom’; took several such files back to his hotel; spent days combing through them with his translator’s assistance, and eventually found a document referring to Galloway. Nul points for JQ, I’m afraid: not a good idea to take a journalist to task if you can’t be bothered to do some very elementary fact-checking.

Sounds to me like a good story ruined by stupid editing and screaming headlines: had they run Blair’s report under the title ‘Documents found in Baghdad link Galloway to oil money’, GG wouldn’t have had a leg to stand on. Instead of which the headline announced Galloway was definitely on the take, and an editorial found him guilty of treason.

12

Robin Green 10.31.05 at 7:40 am

Why aren’t mainstream Democrat politicians saying what he is saying? And why (with the Bush administration in free fall) aren’t the Democrats capitalising on this?

Perhaps because there are so many right-wing swing voters in the US (right-wing by European standards, anyway), that the Democrats don’t want to piss them off too much by sounding too sane.

In other words, if a lot of potential swing voters in key states watch Fox News or whatever, there is a pressure on the Democrats not to say anything which would leave them open to accusations of treason etc. from the reality-challenged community.

Plus, many of them have been supine for so long, it would look slippery, hypocritical and/or opportunist to suddenly become political firebrands now.

(That’s my uninformed UK perspective, for what it’s worth.)

13

Matthew 10.31.05 at 7:48 am

Apparently Aziz is denying having made any incriminating statements, which makes the case look even weaker following your analysis:
See here

14

Grand Moff Texan 10.31.05 at 9:03 am

Frustratingly, although the report contains a number of verbatim quotations from the three witnesses, it does not quote them verbatim on the most important points, and at times the report seems annoyingly vague to the point of self-contradiction

In other words, they’re just providing talking points to their proxies, and don’t have anything. You know, like the Senate Intelligence Committee Report (by which, of course, I mean the addendum, but hoped you wouldn’t notice)?

Same trash, different day.

Hey, I just found some incriminating evidence on this … no, wait. Nope, just salsa verde.
.

15

Daniel 10.31.05 at 9:49 am

Apparently Aziz is denying having made any incriminating statements

I’m not really surprised; he isn’t actually quoted making any incriminating statements in the report, though the surrounding text tries like hell to spin it as if he was.

16

serial catowner 10.31.05 at 10:19 am

Frankly, the U.S. Senate has a history of dirty tricks, bribes, and smears that’s a lot older than George Galloway.

When the soup is this thin, you have to think maybe somebody p***d in it.

17

serial catowner 10.31.05 at 10:22 am

And yes, the fact that it is a staff report from the Republican majority is important.

18

Donald Johnson 10.31.05 at 11:34 am

The bigest scandal here were the sanctions themselves and the toll they took on the Iraqis. I agree the oil for food scandal is a scandal, and people who paid or took bribes are bad, but it’s kinda typical of mainstream Americans that they’re shocked, shocked by the scumminess of foreigners and not terribly interested in their own efforts to bring down a dictator by impoverishing 20 million people and increasing infant mortality rates. What would have been the harm in trying smart sanctions from the beginning?

19

JRoth 10.31.05 at 11:41 am

Yeah, I want to double-up on GM Texan’s and S Catowner’s comments. First off, the Republican staff report is not significantly more valuable as a source of facts than the Texas GOP’s platform.

Perhaps more importantly, I’ve just been reading Clinton’s bio, specifically the bit on impeachment. The techniques you describe – quoting non-incriminating stuff and paraphrasing supposedly-incriminating stuff – were refined to an artform by Starr and his bullies. I mean, his 445 page report had the word “sex” in it some 500 times, but never mentioned that Monica repeatedly testified that Clinton had not suborned perjury from her – while insisting that Clinton had, in fact, suborned perjury.

In other words, not only would I look out a window before believing a Republican who told me the sun was shining, but I would also want to call a couple buddies up to double-check. If they don’t show you the goods, corroborated by someone with real credibility, the rational assumption is that they don’t, in fact, have the goods.

20

Luc 10.31.05 at 12:13 pm

According to the Volcker report, the name of oil trader #1 is “Augusto Giangrandi, a trader for Bayoil and Italtech”.

Probably a consequence of running two inquiries in parallel. Or was his name left out because he worked for a US company?

21

Louis Proyect 10.31.05 at 12:20 pm

Brendan asks why Democrats are not saying anything like Galloway. Isn’t the answer obvious? They are for the war. Biden, Kerry, Clinton et al want to escalate it, while reputed opponents of the war like Russ Feingold are offering Nixonian phased withdrawal proposals that are contingent on Iraqization, something that the feckless Juan Cole endorses. For people who want a rebuttal of the Galloway charges, go to Lenin’s Tomb.

22

grh 10.31.05 at 12:36 pm

Thus the application of sanctions has been totally unjustified since 1992. It was a monumental failure…Where’s the outrage against the sanctions themselves?

abb1, thanks for pointing this out. It’s such an incredibly obvious point, you’d think it would be made more often.

23

jet 10.31.05 at 1:07 pm

Donald Johnson,

What would have been the harm in trying smart sanctions from the beginning?

In hindsight there probably would have been no harm. But at the time, it was 4 years since Saddam had just quit using large amounts of nerve gas and mustard gas on Iran killing tens of thousands. Also there was the whole bloody mass murder in response to the Shi’ite uprising. Then there was the blatant disregard for the cease fire that began as soon as it was signed. The “highway of death” was the scene of Iraqi Military Intelligence sending in attempt after attempt to capture back their abandoned equipment before the cease fire’s ink was dry.

So probably smart sanctions didn’t begin for many years because cutting Saddam slack in the face of his blatant disregard for the negotiations (and continued wild expenditures on his government) didn’t appear productive. “My people are starving but my 8th 50,000 square foot gold palace is almost done” just does not convince.

24

abb1 10.31.05 at 1:35 pm

Um, Jet, you are usually so enraged about various genocides other people are guilty of.

Here’s a quote from the Wiki article on Iraq sanctions:

According to UN estimates, a million children died during the trade embargo, due to malnutrition or lack of medical supplies. Among other things, chlorine, needed for disinfecting water supplies, was banned as having a “dual use” in potential weapons manufacture. A 1998 UNICEF report found that the sanctions had resulted in an additional 90,000 Iraqi children dying per year since 1991. On May 10, 1996, appearing on 60 Minutes, Madeleine Albright (then Clinton’s Ambassador to the United Nations) was presented with a figure of half a million children under five having died from the sanctions: Albright, not challenging this figure, infamously replied: “We think the price is worth it.”

Denis Halliday was appointed United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Baghdad, Iraq as of 1 September 1997, at the Assistant Secretary-General level. In October 1998 he resigned after a 34 year career with the UN in order to have the freedom to criticise the sanctions regime, saying “I don’t want to administer a programme that satisfies the definition of genocide”. Halliday’s successor, Hans von Sponeck, subsequently also resigned in protest. Jutta Burghardt, head of the World Food Program in Iraq, followed them.

So, what’s so different here that warrants such a nuanced view all of a sudden? Could it be that it’s because this is one genocide you have committed?

25

jet 10.31.05 at 2:10 pm

Abb1,
Did I personally cause that “genocide” or did Saddam when, in an effort to show the size of his prick, pushed the coalition into a 10 year low level war. Which included making sure the UN inspections team never trusted that Saddam was being forthcoming and continued military aggressions against coalition forces. Never mind the squandering of what treasure his nation did have on himself instead of his people.
I grant that the sanctions ended up serving very little if any purpose and the cost wasn’t bearable. But I leave most of the blame for the monsters, instead ignoring them in favor of my political opponents (as I could be bashing on Albright and Clinton in your spirit of blame-gaming).

26

abb1 10.31.05 at 2:28 pm

Ah, nuances, nuances, plenty of them. You ban chlorine and a million children die, but that’s not really your fault. And when the Sudanese government arms a bunch of thugs to crush some other thugs – there’s no nuance there, it’s all crystal clear. Yeah, and guess who billions of people on this planet consider the worst monster?

27

grh 10.31.05 at 3:53 pm

jet:

But I leave most of the blame for the monsters, instead ignoring them in favor of my political opponents (as I could be bashing on Albright and Clinton in your spirit of blame-gaming).

Actually, you would be perfectly correct to blame Albright and Clinton. Blame away.

…making sure the UN inspections team never trusted that Saddam was being forthcoming

Uh, not so much. Rather, the U.S. said over and over again it would never allow sanctions to be lifted as long as Saddam was in power. To serve this end, the Clinton administration lustily lied about what they knew.

28

jet 10.31.05 at 4:19 pm

grh,
Not trying to be confrontational but could you give a source that is widely considered credible?

Rather, the U.S. said over and over again it would never allow sanctions to be lifted as long as Saddam was in power.

29

'As you know' Bob 10.31.05 at 7:00 pm

Ok, I get your point: maybe Galloway is dirty, and maybe (eventually) somebody is going to find the evidence that sends him to jail.

But, in the meantime, he makes Sen. Coleman look like an idiot. I’m sorry to be dense here, but I’d never heard of GG until he won his seat. Surely making Coleman look like a boob is performing a useful service for all mankind? Why, then, all the animus?

30

derrida derider 10.31.05 at 8:01 pm

Of course, the reason GG made Coleman look like a fool is that he (GG) was arguing the far stronger case.

Yes, GG is a mountebank, but you have to consider the possibility that the failure of his enemies to put together a good legal case, despite a great deal of resources available to them, may be because he’s genuinely not guilty of this crime? (I hesitate to use the term “innocent” when talking of GG). And as others have pointed out, given the US right’s usual modus operandi Coleman’s committee cannot be considered any more credible than GG himself.

31

grh 10.31.05 at 9:15 pm

jet:

Not trying to be confrontational but could you give a source that is widely considered credible?

Interesting. This is a basic fact about our history with Iraq that is widely known the world over. For anyone who pays even intermittent attention to the subject, it’s like knowing the sky is blue. And yet there are Americans who simply have no idea.

Of course, this happens all the time—it’s really the norm rather than the exception, and is the main reasons much of the world looks at us as insane.

Anyway, all these references are from Nexis:

• • •

President Bush said Monday he opposes lifting economic sanctions against Iraq “as long as Saddam Hussein is in power”…

His comment echoed a remark made earlier in the day by Secretary of State James A. Baker III. “We are not interested in seeking a relaxation of sanctions as long as Saddam Hussein is in power.”

Associated Press, May 20, 1991

Mr. Bush’s statement echoed a similiar statement by the British Prime Minister, John Major, to his Conservative Party on May 11. Mr. Major said Britain might veto any move in the Security Council to lift sanctions as long as Mr. Hussein is in power.

Earlier in the day at the White House, Mr. Fitzwater referred reporters to a May 7 speech by the deputy national security adviser, Robert M. Gates. Mr. Fitzwater said Mr. Gates’s strong formulation on the sanctions question represented American policy.

In the speech to the American Newspaper Publishers Association, Mr. Gates, who has been nominated to be Director of Central Intelligence, said of Mr. Hussein, “Iraqis will pay the price while he is in power.”

“All possible sanctions will be maintained until he is gone,” Mr. Gates continued.

New York Times, May 21, 1991

CLINTON AFFIRMS U.S. POLICY ON IRAQ

“There is no difference between my policy and the policy of the present Administration,” Mr. Clinton said.

New York Times, January 15, 1993

REMARKS BY SECRETARY OF STATE MADELEINE ALBRIGHT
GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY’S SCHOOL OF FOREIGN SERVICE

“We do not agree with the nations who argue that if Iraq complies with its obligations concerning weapons of mass destruction, sanctions should be lifted.”

Federal News Service, March 26, 1997

PRESIDENT WILLIAM J. CLINTON: What he has just done is to ensure that the sanctions will be there until the end of time, or as long as he lasts.

CNN, November 14, 1997

America’s [U.N.] representative, Bill Richardson, went further.

“Sanctions may stay on in perpetuity” he said today, echoing the warning he made after a Council meeting on Monday that “sanctions are going to stay on for ever.”

NY Times, August 21, 1998

32

John Quiggin 11.01.05 at 1:15 am

Dan H,

I’m missing the distinction you’re drawing. I said ‘As I understand it, the Telegraph claims their guy
(1) turned up at a building in the process of being looted,
(2) and happened to find the one piece of paper out of the millions presumably floating about that exactly met their requirements.’

You say he turned up at the building, which was in the process of being looted, with a translator (I’d assumed Blair read Arabic himself) and took away a bunch of documents “relating to the United Kingdom” which happened to include exactly the one he wanted.

Except for the translator, and the fact that he took a bunch of documents for later analysis, your account seems to match mine, and the reliance on a translator makes the account less plausible not more.

How plausible is this? I’m envisaging a multi-story building in a state of complete chaos, where neither Blair nor the translator had any particular idea where to look for relevant papers or any knowledge of the filing system.

As an analogy, supposing you were given a day’s free run through the Home Office building, to look for a single piece of paper that was the smoking gun on the Menezes case . How likely do you think it is that you’d find it, even without the complications of looting and reliance on a translator. I’d guess the chances would be close to zero.

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John Quiggin 11.01.05 at 1:49 am

PS I’ve now located and read Blair’s account [reproduced here] of how he found the documents (I don’t think this was in the original report I read). It reads like an extract from a spy novel, with the translator chancing upon the crucial box of documents in a burned out building as looters smash the lights and so on. Pardon me if I’m unconvinced.

It seems to me far more plausible that someone put together a bunch of documents, at least some of them genuine, and handed them to Blair with a request for a spurious provenance. This was what happened with the Niger letters and pretty much what happened in Libby’s dealings with Judith Miller.

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Sebastian Holsclaw 11.01.05 at 2:33 am

“As an analogy, supposing you were given a day’s free run through the Home Office building, to look for a single piece of paper that was the smoking gun on the Menezes case . How likely do you think it is that you’d find it, even without the complications of looting and reliance on a translator. I’d guess the chances would be close to zero.”

They were looking for the Galloway paper? Hardly. Your analogy is somewhat non-analogous. They were looking for something of interest regarding the UK. They grabbed lots of stuff. Some of it was labelled in a way so as to catch the reporters interest. When he opened it–not knowing what he would find, and certainly not just looking for papers on Galloway–he found something interesting. Rather like the discovery of penicillin–if you keep your eyes open sometimes you find something worth looking at.

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Dan Hardie 11.01.05 at 3:47 am

John, full disclosure: I knew David Blair years ago, and he was right wing but entirely honest. If I happen to find a paper relating to a UK hate figure in the middle of a chaotic ministry, hmmm, that does sound rather suspicious. If I take away a large number of files relating to the UK, peruse them at leisure and then find said document: yes, I can imagine that happening. As to not knowing how the filing system works, I can’t see how that prevents anyone walking through a building with no security system looking for files marked ‘United Kingdom’.

And beyond that, it’s not just a case of what Blair or the Telegraph ‘says’: it’s what Blair swore an affidavit to. So if you’re saying he’s lying, you’re actually accusing him of perjury, which is a big charge to make under any circumstances and a bigger one if you don’t have any evidence.

If he’d got these documents from somebody- say, a Chalabi associate- then saying in court or on an affidavit ‘I received these from a source whom I will not name’ would suffice: it might not have gone down well with the libel court, but Blair and everyone else is aware that British judges have got sick to the back teeth of perjury in libel cases, and have sent two senior politicians to jail for it.

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John Quiggin 11.01.05 at 3:58 am

Fair enough Dan. I don’t have any personal knowledge of David Blair and I’ll take your word for his honesty.

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abb1 11.01.05 at 7:24 am

What does right wing but entirely honest sound like?

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Dan Hardie 11.01.05 at 7:38 am

It sounds a damn sight better than ‘left wing and entirely infantile’.

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abb1 11.01.05 at 7:51 am

Look who’s talkin’.

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abb1 11.01.05 at 8:16 am

…and I’m not even from this village.

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Dan Hardie 11.01.05 at 8:55 am

Generic Shorter Abb1: It’s all about me! Me! Me!

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abb1 11.01.05 at 9:09 am

But of course it is. What do you think it’s all about, my imaginary friend?

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Donald Johnson 11.01.05 at 4:36 pm

Dan Hardie, you do have a tendency to make it about abb1. The two issues here are sanctions and George Galloway.

Jet, if you’re still around, others have replied to you along roughly the lines I would, though in my better moods I’d avoid the personal stuff. Saddam was guilty of mass murder and a war of aggression against a neighbor with our blessing and with us helping both sides, which is as morally depraved as you can get. I don’t see how that’s a justification for plunging his country into further misery in hopes that it would topple his government. The idea of “smart sanctions” is that you specifically target Saddam and his ruling circle and prevent items that would clearly be useful in building WMD’s from making their way into the country. You don’t de-industrialize the whole society, however. Towards the end (before 9/11) I think there was a consensus building even in the US that “smart sanctions” would be the way to go–the only objection was by anti-sanctions campaigners who (perhaps rightly) suspected that the US would pretend to impose smart sanctions while still trying to use them as a tool for the continued immiseration of ordinary Iraqis.

The US and the current Iraqi insurgents actually seem to think alike–the insurgents have been destroying infrastructure with the same strategy in mind. Make people miserable and they’ll blame the government. It doesn’t help that we seem less competent than Saddam’s engineers in restoring services.

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jet 11.01.05 at 4:58 pm

Donald Johnson,
I agreed that sanctions turned out to be worse than useless. But given the history of Saddam, dealing with him in a harsh manner was the compromise between invading Baghdad and finishing GW1 or quiting. Over 1 million died directly in the Iran-Iraq war, and we’ll never no the indirect costs.

I I find it extremely humorous to see you supporting smart sanctions and then claim the US “helped” Saddam in his Iran campaign. The US military aid to Saddam amounted to some satellite photos early in the war, and the non-military aid is what kept his country “industrialized”. I you seriously proposing that the US should have cut off all trade with Saddam from 1980-1988? Wouldn’t that have caused the same destruction people bemoan from 1991-2002? You might note that the US did push for UN sanctions when Iraq started using WMD’s but the trusty UN shot them down, although this didnt’ stop the US from passing their own sanctions. Silly rabbit, urban myths are for kids.

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Donald Johnson 11.01.05 at 6:54 pm

Jet, I don’t have the sources handy, but the US cheered when Iraq attacked Iran and it was almost a joke among Americans that it was great to see those two countries bleeding each other to death. The NYT ran some stories a few years ago about the military intelligence the US supplied to the Iraqis–yeah, I’d consider that helping them. In other cases I think we quietly approved as other countries supplied the actual weaponry. During the 90’s, the sanctions cut Iraq’s GDP by nearly 80 percent and helped prevent full repair to the infrastructure deliberately destroyed by the US with exactly this goal in mind–to hurt the civilian population. It was clear that was the goal–there was a Washington Post article in June 23 1991 stating exactly that and I read a summary of it at the time. But in the US it’s taken for granted that we’re the good guys and can inflict any degree of misery on others so long as it’s for the purpose of bringing down a bad man who we’d supported until mid-1990. If the US government had felt seriously uncomfortable about Saddam you wouldn’t have had Dick Cheney’s good buddy from Wyoming Senator Simpson buttering up Saddam as late as the spring of 1990, right after Saddam had executed a British journalist for spying (i.e., reporting on Saddam’s weapons programs).

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grh 11.02.05 at 12:55 am

donald johnson:

Jet, I don’t have the sources handy, but the US cheered when Iraq attacked Iran

Actually, we did a lot more than that. We actively encouraged Saddam to invade, and Carter gave him an explicit green light to do so. (See point #5, here.)

Beyond that, jet’s understanding of what we actually did during the Iran-Iraq war is on par with his knowledge of our policy vis-a-vis the sanctions; ie, practically non-existent. But I learned long ago there’s no use in trying to help people understand things they don’t want to know.

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Dan Hardie 11.02.05 at 4:47 am

Donald Johnson, go to a reading lesson or two. I posted many long paragraphs about the honesty of the journalist who uncovered the George Galloway story, and a couple of short sentences replying to the ignorant Abb1’s opinion that rightwingers can be honest.

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Dan Hardie 11.02.05 at 4:48 am

… Correction: that rightwingers can’t be honest.

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abb1 11.02.05 at 8:31 am

That was a joke, Dan; lighten up, man.

Now, here’s a piece on GG’s troubles in a honest leftwing paper: Unspinning the US’s web of lies against Galloway.

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Donald Johnson 11.02.05 at 1:53 pm

Dan Hardie, it’s sorta self-defeating telling someone in writing to take reading lessons. But I took your advice retroactively and learned years ago. Anyway, if you and abb1 keep fighting I think the two of you should get married and do it in private.

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Dan Hardie 11.02.05 at 2:33 pm

Not at all self-defeating, if the person so advised is sufficiently literate to read simple sentences but has trouble with longer ones. A bigger problem, of course, is that fools have a problem taking advice, which is probably a better reason not to offer you any.

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Donald Johnson 11.03.05 at 12:10 am

Oh, lordie, dan, lighten up a bit. I agree about my foolishness–trying to get people to cease their boring personal squabbles is a complete waste of time and just adds to the problem. I agreed with you on the substantive portion of the discussion in a previous thread when you were bickering with abb1 and failed to see the point of the nasty personal insults, but I should know better than to step in.

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abb1 11.03.05 at 3:24 am

I agreed with you on the substantive portion of the discussion in a previous thread…

Seriously? You agree that “it is disgusting – and also dangerous – that there should be such things as ‘Asian Community Centres’ or ‘Black Community Centres’ rather than ‘Community Centres’?

Disgusting and dangerous? Isn’t it loony-radical to the point of absurdity?

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Donald Johnson 11.03.05 at 3:08 pm

Abb1, I don’t remember that thread, or that portion of it. Apparently there are yet other threads where you two tear into each other. Perhaps I should just learn to sit back and enjoy it. I was talking about the Rwanda thread, where you were opposed to any US intervention because it might cause millions of deaths and I said this wasn’t very likely. In the substantive portion of his response dan hardie was pro-intervention–the non-substance was about what an awful person you are.

BTW, you and I were just about to fly at each other’s throats in an earlier thread, where I was condemning both Palestinian corruption and terror and Israeli war crimes and apartheid, and you jumped on me for it. Then the thread was shut down, darn it.

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abb1 11.03.05 at 3:52 pm

The evils of Asian Community Centres exposed here: http://crookedtimber.org/2005/10/30/pogrom-meme/

On the Rwanda thing: who knows? We will never know.

But read this, by general Lewis MacKenzie, commander of the UN peacekeeping forces in Sarajevo. First he’s fantasizing about how everything would’ve been different if he had 150,000 troops, and then:

…With some help from outsiders, they [Bosnian Muslims] began to infiltrate thousands of fighters and weapons into the safe haven. As the Bosnian Muslim fighters became better equipped and trained, they started to venture outside Srebrenica, burning Serb villages and killing their occupants before quickly withdrawing to the security provided by the UN’s safe haven. These attacks reached a crescendo in 1994 and carried on into early 1995 after the Canadian infantry company that had been there for a year was replaced by a larger Dutch contingent.

[…]As the snow cleared in the spring of 1995, it became obvious to Nasar Oric, the man who led the Bosnian Muslim fighters, that the Bosnian Serb army was going to attack Srebrenica to stop him from attacking Serb villages. So he and a large number of his fighters slipped out of town. Srebrenica was left undefended with the strategic thought that, if the Serbs attacked an undefended town, surely that would cause NATO and the UN to agree that NATO air strikes against the Serbs were justified.

This is a fact, this is what actually happened leading to the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. That’s what I’m talking about.

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abb1 11.03.05 at 3:59 pm

Oh, yeah, Palestinian corruption and terror – did you see this today: Palestinians hit by sonic boom air raids? Talk about terror.

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Donald Johnson 11.03.05 at 10:52 pm

While we’re trading interesting websites, here’s one I got from antiwar.com, about massacres committed by all sides during the Korean War–

http://times.hankooki.com/lpage/200511/kt2005110117132068040.htm

On Palestine, you won’t get any argument from me about how bad the Israelis have been. I just don’t think ethnic cleansing, apartheid, torture and indisriminate killing by one side justifies the deliberate murder of children by the other. Or vice versa. Of course as Americans we’ve been funding one set of crimes.

As for the community center thread, no comment. You two really don’t seem to get along.

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abb1 11.04.05 at 6:24 am

I’m not aware of deliberate murder of children by the other side; never heard of it. Sounds a bit like a blood libel.

Here’s a link: Ticking bomb

Ah, and I’m reminded of this event, celebrated every year for 7 days in a row:

Exodus 11:4-8, 12:29-30

So Moses said, “This is what the Lord says: ‘About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the slave girl, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well. There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt-worse than there has ever been or ever will be again. But among the Israelites not a dog will bark at any man or animal.’ Then you will know that the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. All these officials of yours will come to me, bowing down before me and saying, ‘Go, you and all the people who follow you!’ After that I will leave.” Then Moses, hot with anger, left Pharaoh.

At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well. Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead.

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Donald Johnson 11.04.05 at 3:16 pm

Aw, come on, abb1, suicide bombings are meant to kill innocent people. Don’t make me sick Dan Hardie on you.

Anyway, that’s my last post on this thread.

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