Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Talk of the town, part one

You've heard about it! You've read about it! Now you can see it!

The BBC has a video of George Galloway's appearance before the Senate Investigating Subcommittee. Go to this link and click on the button about watching highlights from the testimony. (It says highlights, but at least as of last night you actually can see the whole thing, all 47 minutes and change of it.)

Footnote: As the BBC noted on Tuesday,
[t]he US turned a blind eye to the former Iraq regime's $8bn trade in smuggled oil, a new US Senate report says.

The report says the US was well aware of both the smuggling and the kickbacks Iraq solicited from players in the UN's oil-for-food programme. ...

The new report[, by the Democratic staff on the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations,] focuses on both the $228m Saddam Hussein's regime is estimated to have made through illegal surcharges on the oil-for-food programme, and on the $8bn it made through sanctions-busting oil sales to Turkey, Syria, Egypt and Jordan. ...

In all, US buyers paid more than half the $224m in total kickbacks, the report estimates.

But it also said that the far bigger smuggling trade was carried out with tacit US approval. ...

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

"On occasion, the US actually facilitated the illicit oil sales."
The report even specifies one case where, it's charged, the smuggled oil was deliberately allowed to pass through a US naval blockade.

But hey, bidness, as Molly Ivins says, is bidness.

Footnote: One thing - or, rather, among the things - that had me shaking my head while watching the video of Galloway's testimony was Carl Levin's attempts to maneuver Galloway into a statement to the effect that the documents that had his name linked to Fawaz Zureikat, who apparently was involved in oil deals with Saddam, were likely genuine. Galloway had raised the possibility that they were forgeries, noting that two previous sets of papers indicating his involvement in the scheme had proved to be bogus. Levin kept trying to get Galloway to say that he was "not alleging" that the documents the Committee had were faked, but Galloway wasn't having it, insisting on his own formulation that he was saying nothing one way or the other - likely aware (as Levin must be as well) of how easily "not alleging they're fake" translates in the media and the public mind to "acknowledges they are genuine."

I kept wishing that Galloway would say "Okay, Senator, how about we put it this way: I am not alleging the documents are genuine."

It would be every bit as accurate a reflection of his testimony as Levin's version - but it doesn't sound the same, does it?

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