Memo To: Website Fans, Browsers, Clients
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: George Galloway vs. Senator Norm Coleman [R-Minn]
I first arrived in Washington, D.C., in the spring of 1965 to work
for the Dow Jones’ newsweekly, The National Observer, I assumed
that members of Congress, especially members of the U.S. Senate,
were among the smartest, wisest, most knowledgeable American citizens.
I quickly found out that on some topics of the greatest importance…
Vietnam being one of them… they were as dumb as posts. In preparing
myself for my new job, I’d read everything I could lay my hands
on about Vietnam: newspaper articles, magazine articles, and more
than a dozen books written by men and women of a great many different
political persuasions. I’d done my homework so I could report intelligently
on that topic… and a great many other topics I was assigned first
as a general assignment reporter, then as the newspaper’s chief
political columnist. I soon found I knew more about Vietnam than
the members of Congress I interviewed and members of the executive
branch at State and Defense who I assumed would know everything.
Thinking back, I can recall being impressed with the intelligence
and knowledge of several U.S. Senators… Jacob Javits [R-NY], Russell
Long [D-LA], Hubert Humphrey [D-MINN], John Stennis [D-MISS], John
Tower [R-TX], Henry Jackson [D-WA], but even these superior politicians
I found now and then stumbled into areas where they just didn’t
know what they were talking about. Almost invariably, I think it
was because of failures at their staff levels. They were briefed
or given talking points or speech drafts with inferior material
collected by inferior staffers. As an example, I specifically recall
reading the Congressional Record one morning in the Senate
press dining room to discover that Sen Gordon Allott [R-CO], who
was as dumb as a post the last time I read his blatherings, suddenly
had made a brilliant speech on the Senate floor. I quickly called
his press secretary to congratulate him on the speech and to ask
who had helped draft it for the Senate. It turned out to be a new
staff member, practically straight out of college, a 25-year-old
young man named George Will. As long as George worked for Allott,
Allott was smart.
Which brings us to Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota, a young Republican
who clearly has dreams of riding the so-called “Oil-for-Food Scandal”
to the White House, la Richard Nixon’s prosecution of Alger Hiss
as a Communist spy. From what I’ve seen so far, though, Coleman’s
background as a prosecutor may make him smarter than his colleagues
in understanding the Minnesota penal code, but otherwise he is as
dumb as a post. At least in the sense that he still doesn’t realize
he has been chosen by the neo-cons and their friends in the pro-war
conservative press. His mission: to smear the United Nations, Secretary
General Kofi Annan, and ultimately all the agencies of the U.N.
that are likely to get in their way of an Imperial America. In return,
they are telling him he is, by gosh, presidential timber!!
Senator Coleman seems to think that as long as the stuff he is getting
from the neo-cons is winning him the plaudits of the Wall Street
Journal editorial page and Rupert Murdoch’s news empire, he
can not only take it to the Sunday talk shows, but also attack members
of the British Parliament who have different views on the subject.
He did so recently by accusing George Galloway of the House of Commons
of corruption in the so-called “Oil-for-Food Scandal” and instead
of slinking away into the London fog, Galloway showed up in Washington
this last week to appear before the Coleman subcommittee investigating
the “Scandal.” He did so having won in December 150,000 British
pounds in libel damages from the Daily Telegraph over its
separate claims he had received money from Saddam’s regime. After
Coleman laid out a series of charges against him, here is what Galloway
had to say. The last we saw, Senator Coleman was seen slinking away
into the fog:
on Tuesday, May 17, 2005 by the Times Online (UK)
Galloway vs. The US Senate: Transcript of Statement
George Galloway, Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, delivered
this statement to US Senators today who have accused him of corruption
I am not now, nor have I ever been, an oil trader. and neither
has anyone on my behalf. I have never seen a barrel of oil, owned
one, bought one, sold one – and neither has anyone on my behalf.
“Now I know
that standards have slipped in the last few years in Washington,
but for a lawyer you are remarkably cavalier with any idea of
justice. I am here today but last week you already found me guilty.
You traduced my name around the world without ever having asked
me a single question, without ever having contacted me, without
ever written to me or telephoned me, without any attempt to contact
me whatsoever. And you call that justice.
“Now I want
to deal with the pages that relate to me in this dossier and I
want to point out areas where there are – let’s be charitable
and say errors. Then I want to put this in the context where I
believe it ought to be. On the very first page of your document
about me you assert that I have had ‘many meetings’ with Saddam
Hussein. This is false.
had two meetings with Saddam Hussein, once in 1994 and once in
August of 2002. By no stretch of the English language can that
be described as “many meetings” with Saddam Hussein.
“As a matter
of fact, I have met Saddam Hussein exactly the same number of
times as Donald Rumsfeld met him. The difference is Donald Rumsfeld
met him to sell him guns and to give him maps the better to target
those guns. I met him to try and bring about an end to sanctions,
suffering and war, and on the second of the two occasions, I met
him to try and persuade him to let Dr Hans Blix and the United
Nations weapons inspectors back into the country – a rather better
use of two meetings with Saddam Hussein than your own Secretary
of State for Defense made of his.
“I was an
opponent of Saddam Hussein when British and Americans governments
and businessmen were selling him guns and gas. I used to demonstrate
outside the Iraqi embassy when British and American officials
were going in and doing commerce.
see from the official parliamentary record, Hansard, from the
15th March 1990 onwards, voluminous evidence that I have a rather
better record of opposition to Saddam Hussein than you do and
than any other member of the British or American governments do.
say in this document, you quote a source, you have the gall to
quote a source, without ever having asked me whether the allegation
from the source is true, that I am ‘the owner of a company which
has made substantial profits from trading in Iraqi oil’.
I do not own any companies, beyond a small company whose entire
purpose, whose sole purpose, is to receive the income from my
journalistic earnings from my employer, Associated Newspapers,
in London. I do not own a company that’s been trading in Iraqi
oil. And you have no business to carry a quotation, utterly unsubstantiated
and false, implying otherwise.
have nothing on me, Senator, except my name on lists of names
from Iraq, many of which have been drawn up after the installation
of your puppet government in Baghdad. If you had any of the letters
against me that you had against Zhirinovsky, and even Pasqua,
they would have been up there in your slideshow for the members
of your committee today.
my name on lists provided to you by the Duelfer inquiry, provided
to him by the convicted bank robber, and fraudster and conman
Ahmed Chalabi who many people to their credit in your country
now realize played a decisive role in leading your country into
the disaster in Iraq.
270 names on that list originally. That’s somehow been filleted
down to the names you chose to deal with in this committee. Some
of the names on that committee included the former secretary to
his Holiness Pope John Paul II, the former head of the African
National Congress Presidential office and many others who had
one defining characteristic in common: they all stood against
the policy of sanctions and war which you vociferously prosecuted
and which has led us to this disaster.
Mr Dahar Yassein Ramadan. Well, you have something on me, I’ve
never met Mr Dahar Yassein Ramadan. Your sub-committee apparently
has. But I do know that he’s your prisoner, I believe he’s in
Abu Ghraib prison. I believe he is facing war crimes charges,
punishable by death. In these circumstances, knowing what the
world knows about how you treat prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison,
in Bagram Airbase, in Guantanamo Bay, including I may say, British
citizens being held in those places.
sure how much credibility anyone would put on anything you manage
to get from a prisoner in those circumstances. But you quote 13
words from Dahar Yassein Ramadan whom I have never met. If he
said what he said, then he is wrong.
you had any evidence that I had ever engaged in any actual oil
transaction, if you had any evidence that anybody ever gave me
any money, it would be before the public and before this committee
today because I agreed with your Mr Greenblatt [Mark Greenblatt,
legal counsel on the committee].
Greenblatt was absolutely correct. What counts is not the names
on the paper, what counts is where’s the money. Senator? Who paid
me hundreds of thousands of dollars of money? The answer to that
is nobody. And if you had anybody who ever paid me a penny, you
would have produced them today.
refer at length to a company names in these documents as Aredio
Petroleum. I say to you under oath here today: I have never heard
of this company, I have never met anyone from this company. This
company has never paid a penny to me and I’ll tell you something
else: I can assure you that Aredio Petroleum has never paid a
single penny to the Mariam Appeal Campaign. Not a thin dime. I
don’t know who Aredio Petroleum are, but I daresay if you were
to ask them they would confirm that they have never met me or
ever paid me a penny.
I’m on that subject, who is this senior former regime official
that you spoke to yesterday? Don’t you think I have a right to
know? Don’t you think the Committee and the public have a right
to know who this senior former regime official you were quoting
against me interviewed yesterday actually is?
of the most serious of the mistakes you have made in this set
of documents is, to be frank, such a schoolboy howler as to make
a fool of the efforts that you have made. You assert on page 19,
not once but twice, that the documents that you are referring
to cover a different period in time from the documents covered
by The Daily Telegraph which were a subject of a libel action
won by me in the High Court in England late last year.
that The Daily Telegraph article cited documents from 1992 and
1993 whilst you are dealing with documents dating from 2001. Senator,
The Daily Telegraph’s documents date identically to the documents
that you were dealing with in your report here. None of The Daily
Telegraph’s documents dealt with a period of 1992, 1993. I had
never set foot in Iraq until late in 1993 – never in my life.
There could possibly be no documents relating to Oil-for-Food
matters in 1992, 1993, for the Oil-for-Food scheme did not exist
at that time.
you’ve allocated a full section of this document to claiming that
your documents are from a different era to the Daily Telegraph
documents when the opposite is true. Your documents and the Daily
Telegraph documents deal with exactly the same period.
you were confusing the Daily Telegraph action with the Christian
Science Monitor. The Christian Science Monitor did indeed publish
on its front pages a set of allegations against me very similar
to the ones that your committee have made. They did indeed rely
on documents which started in 1992, 1993. These documents were
unmasked by the Christian Science Monitor themselves as forgeries.
neo-con websites and newspapers in which you’re such a hero, senator,
were all absolutely cock-a-hoop at the publication of the Christian
Science Monitor documents, they were all absolutely convinced
of their authenticity. They were all absolutely convinced that
these documents showed me receiving $10 million from the Saddam
regime. And they were all lies.
same week as the Daily Telegraph published their documents
against me, the Christian Science Monitor published theirs
which turned out to be forgeries and the British newspaper, Mail
on Sunday, purchased a third set of documents which also upon
forensic examination turned out to be forgeries. So there’s nothing
fanciful about this. Nothing at all fanciful about it.
of forged documents implicating me in commercial activities with
the Iraqi regime is a proven fact. It’s a proven fact that these
forged documents existed and were being circulated amongst right-wing
newspapers in Baghdad and around the world in the immediate aftermath
of the fall of the Iraqi regime.
I gave my heart and soul to oppose the policy that you promoted.
I gave my political life’s blood to try to stop the mass killing
of Iraqis by the sanctions on Iraq which killed one million Iraqis,
most of them children, most of them died before they even knew
that they were Iraqis, but they died for no other reason other
than that they were Iraqis with the misfortune to born at that
time. I gave my heart and soul to stop you committing the disaster
that you did commit in invading Iraq. And I told the world that
your case for the war was a pack of lies.
the world that Iraq, contrary to your claims did not have weapons
of mass destruction. I told the world, contrary to your claims,
that Iraq had no connection to al-Qaeda. I told the world, contrary
to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to the atrocity on
9/11 2001. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that the
Iraqi people would resist a British and American invasion of their
country and that the fall of Baghdad would not be the beginning
of the end, but merely the end of the beginning.
in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and
you turned out to be wrong and 100,000 people paid with their
lives; 1600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on
a pack of lies; 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled
forever on a pack of lies.
If the world
had listened to Kofi Annan, whose dismissal you demanded, if the
world had listened to President Chirac who you want to paint as
some kind of corrupt traitor, if the world had listened to me
and the anti-war movement in Britain, we would not be in the disaster
that we are in today. Senator, this is the mother of all smokescreens.
You are trying to divert attention from the crimes that you supported,
from the theft of billions of dollars of Iraq’s wealth.
look at the real Oil-for-Food scandal. Have a look at the 14 months
you were in charge of Baghdad, the first 14 months when $8.8 billion
of Iraq’s wealth went missing on your watch. Have a look at Halliburton
and other American corporations that stole not only Iraq’s money,
but the money of the American taxpayer.
look at the oil that you didn’t even meter, that you were shipping
out of the country and selling, the proceeds of which went who
knows where? Have a look at the $800 million you gave to American
military commanders to hand out around the country without even
counting it or weighing it.
look at the real scandal breaking in the newspapers today, revealed
in the earlier testimony in this committee. That the biggest sanctions
busters were not me or Russian politicians or French politicians.
The real sanctions busters were your own companies with the connivance
of your own Government.”