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Galloway slams U.S. justice as he rejects charges

By Sue Pleming

05/17/05 "Reuters"
- -WASHINGTON (Reuters) - MP George Galloway angrily rejected charges on Tuesday by the U.S. Congress that he profited from the Iraq oil-for-food program as "utterly preposterous" and blasted it for treating him unfairly.
 
 

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Far from showing the usual deference of witnesses before Congress, the Scotsman defiantly told a Senate committee its evidence against him was false, condemned its investigation and demanded to know why it had not checked with him first before making its allegations.

Galloway bluntly confronted the Republican chairman of the committee, Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota, and challenged the attorney to back up claims the MP profited handsomely from the now defunct oil-for-food program. Some of his harshest remarks concerned Coleman's support for the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

"Now I know that standards have slipped over the last few years in Washington, but for a lawyer, you are remarkably cavalier with any idea of justice," Galloway said.

Galloway later told reporter he felt Coleman had failed in his cross-examination. "He's not much of a lyncher," he said.

Galloway appeared before the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which is examining how ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein used oil to reward politicians, particularly from Russia, France and Britain, under the United Nations oil-for-food program.

A maverick kicked out of the British Labour Party for his fervent opposition to the Iraq war and for personal attacks on Prime Minister Tony Blair, Galloway lashed out at the Bush administration for the Iraq invasion.

"Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong," he pointedly told Coleman, whom he labeled a "neo-con, pro-war hawk."

The committee last week released documents it said showed Saddam gave Galloway the rights to export 20 million barrels of oil under the defunct humanitarian program.

Former French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua, now a French senator, also was named in the Senate report, which said he got vouchers for 11 million barrels. Pasqua, who also angrily denied the allegations, was not at the hearing.

The U.N. oil-for-food program, which began in late 1996 and ended in 2003, was aimed at easing the impact of sanctions imposed after Saddam's troops invaded Kuwait in 1990.

Galloway accused Coleman of sullying his reputation and making false charges against him that he gave money to Saddam. "You call that justice?" he asked, adding later: "This is utterly preposterous."

With Galloway looking on, Senate investigators laid out their case against him and others, presenting documents they said showed he received oil allocations from Saddam Hussein's government.

Mark Greenblatt, legal counsel on the committee, told senators Galloway had used his cancer charity "Mariam's Appeal" to conceal these allocations and provided several Oil Ministry documents referring to the charity.

Greenblatt said a senior Iraqi official interviewed by the committee's investigators again in Baghdad on Monday, had confirmed allegations against Galloway and authenticated Iraqi oil ministry documents.

RUSSIAN PERSONALITIES

Baghdad was allowed to sell oil to buy basic goods and could negotiate its own contracts, but the program has been dogged by allegations of massive fraud and charges Saddam used it to buy influence in the West.

Coleman's panel also gave details about Iraqi oil allocations to Russia's presidential council, which advises President Vladimir Putin.

A report released on Monday said Saddam's government provided Putin's former chief of staff, Alexander Voloshin, and the council with oil rights worth nearly $3 million in exchange for support to lift U.N. sanctions against Iraq imposed in August 1990 after Baghdad's troops invaded Kuwait.

Senate investigators said there was no evidence that Putin knew of the payments.

The committee also said 75 million barrels of oil were allocated to Vladimir Zhirinovsky, an ultranationalist Russian parliamentarian who made frequent visits to Iraq, or his political party.

In both cases, the Houston-based firm Bayoil Inc. or its subsidiaries helped arrange transport and contracts to sell the oil in the United States and elsewhere, the report said.

Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.

Galloway v the US Senate: transcript of statement

"Senator, 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. 

"I have 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 Defence 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. 

"You will 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. 

"Now you 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'. 

"Senator, 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. 

"Now you 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. 

"You have 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 realise played a decisive role in leading your country into the disaster in Iraq. 

"There were 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. 

"You quote 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. 

"I'm not 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. 

"And if 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].

"Your Mr 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. 

"Now you 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. 

"Whilst 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? 

"Now, one 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. 

"You state 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.

"And yet 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. 

"But perhaps 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. 

"Now, the 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. 

"In the 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. 

"The existence 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. 

"Now, Senator, 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.

“I told 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. 

"Senator, 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. 

"Have a 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 Haliburton and other American corporations that stole not only Iraq's money, but the money of the American taxpayer. 

"Have a 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. 

"Have a 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."

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. Information Clearing House has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is Information Clearing House endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article8869.htm

How they forged the case against Galloway
 
by Simon Assaf and Charlie Kimber, assisted by Ann Ashford

George Galloway's name 'appears' in the list

The central document used against George Galloway this week by the US senate committee investigating Iraq’s oil for food programme is a forgery. Socialist Worker can reveal that evidence crucial to the alleged case against the Respect MP is fake — created after the fall of Baghdad in 2003.

The allegations are another desperate attempt to smear the opponents of the war on Iraq, and to make them appear as the corrupt hirelings of tyranny.

In Britain the material is another dirty weapon to be employed in an effort to destroy George Galloway and halt the rise of Respect.

Most of the accusations hurled against George Galloway by the senate committee on investigations this week were based on testimony that was supposedly freely given by former officials in Saddam Hussein’s regime who are now held by US forces.

In many cases these sources are not even named.

But there is one piece of evidence that at first glance seems persuasive. It is in the findings of the Duelfer Report — the conclusions of the Iraq Survey Group headed by Charles Duelfer which last year admitted Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction.

The senate committee’s document says, “According to the evidence in the Duelfer Report, the Hussein regime granted Galloway six oil allocations totalling 20 million barrels of oil.”

Annexe B of the section of the Duelfer Report on “Regime finance and procurement” lists what it claims are “Known oil voucher recipients”.

According to Duelfer, “This annexe contains the 13 secret lists maintained by vice president Taha Yassin Ramadan al-Jizrawi and the minister for oil, Amir Rashid Muhammad al-Ubaydi. A high level Iraqi State Oil Marketing Organisation (SOMO) official provided the Iraq Survey Group with both English and Arabic versions of these lists on 16 June 2004. The lists reproduced here are the original SOMO translations in English.”

The list contains hundreds of names of individuals and corporations, many of which, according to Duelfer, legally dealt in Iraqi oil under the UN’s oil for food programme.

The first mention of George Galloway is contract M/09/23. This alleges that 1.014 million barrels of oil were allocated to “Mr Fawwaz Zurayqat — Mr George Galloway — Aredio Petroleum (French)”.

Look closely at the entry, which is reproduced above.

  • The typeface (font) used for “Mr George Galloway” is different to the rest of the line. Indeed the only time this font is used in the entire document is where George Galloway’s name appears.
  • “Mr George Galloway” does not line up with the rest of the words in the entry. It is at an angle to the other words.

  • The spacings between “Mr George Galloway” and the rest of the words are inconsistent.
  • The dash after the words “Mr George Galloway” touches the following word.
  • The words “Mr George Galloway” are at a different type density (lighter) than the rest of the line.

The most likely explanation is that the words “Mr George Galloway” have been added after the list was prepared, perhaps stuck on and then photocopied to produce the list in the Duelfer Report.

Elsewhere the Duelfer Report revisits this same contract note and, citing an internal Iraqi document, says the allocation was to “Fawaz Zuraiqat — Mariam’s Appeal”.

Was this the original name, which was then changed in order to smear George Galloway?

The following should be read alongside this article:
 
An Iraqi reveals how he forged an oil for food list
 The Mariam Appeal already investigated
 Who is Norm Coleman?
 Evidence from the torture chambers
  George Galloway speaks out
 A history of smears and lies
  U.S. sanctions regime was guilty of murder
 Murky paper trail from Iraq to Washington

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http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/article.php4?article_id=6511

This article should be read after:  How they forged the case against Galloway

An Iraqi reveals how he forged an oil for food list

There is other clear evidence of forgery surrounding the oil for food documents.

The first list of alleged “beneficiaries of Saddam Hussein’s oil vouchers” appeared on 25 January 2004 in the Al-Mada newspaper, published in the US-run Green Zone of Baghdad.

The paper claimed to have obtained a list (in Arabic) of 270 organisations and individuals awarded allocations of oil by Saddam’s regime. Al-Mada published the names, including George Galloway.

There is testimony that this document is also a forgery. On 10 February 2004 the newspaper Al-Watan published the account of Sajad Ahmad Ali.

He explained how he forged the original Arabic document obtained by Al-Mada:

“I’d like to indicate here that it was us who made — that is to say we forged — this list of names and titles of people who got money from the ministry of information, the palace and the oil for food programme.

“The person who took charge of this task is called Abu-Salim and he got four individuals to work on the project, one of whom was me.

“The first time Abu-Salim got in touch with us was about half way through December [2003]. Afterwards Abu-Salim brought us a list of names, titles and jobs. He also gave us a draft copy of what we had to write next to them.

“We worked for ten days, and then we steamed the papers a bit, then dried them out so that they would look old. I made a few mistakes in some of the lists.

“I neglected to put in the name of the Baath Party in Mali, and the name of the imam of the mosque in Taskhent and the name of an Iraqi teacher who works in a university in Libya.

“I pointed out these errors to Abu-Salim but he wasn’t bothered, saying ‘it isn’t important’.

“We didn’t know who asked for this list of names, and I still don’t know who he is, nor what he did with it.”

There is a link between the forged Arabic list and the English documents reproduced in the Duelfer Report.

We have confirmation of this from Claude Hankes-Drielsma. He was brought to Iraq after the US invasion as an adviser to the stooge Iraq governing council.

Having previously worked for international accountants KPMG, he was hired by Ahmed Chalabi — then an ally of the US on the governing council — to examine the oil trade under Saddam Hussein.

Hankes-Drielsma, giving evidence to the US house international relations committee in April 2004, said, “In December 2003 I was shown a list of those who purchased crude oil through the UN programme.”

He went on to confirm that “the lists I had seen in Baghdad were released to an Iraqi newspaper (Al-Mada)”.

The lists seen and collected by Hankes-Drielsma’s team were seized by the US in June 2004 and form the background to the Duelfer Report.

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