Skip to comments.Iraqi Paper Lists Companies And Organizations Hussein Allegedly Bribed With Oil
Posted on 01/29/2004 11:49:19 AM PST by Hon
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Whoa - nice catch.
Iraqis tried to bribe Scott Ritter with gold
By Inigo Gilmore in Baghdad and Charles Laurence in New York (Filed: 04/05/2003)
Iraq's intelligence services bought gold jewellery that they planned to give to the wife and daughter of Scott Ritter, the controversial former weapons inspector, as part of a clandestine project to encourage him to work closely with Saddam Hussein's regime, according to documents discovered by The Telegraph in Baghdad.
According to the documents, which were found in the bombed headquarters of Iraq's intelligence services, the cost of the presents was approved at the highest level in an attempt to develop "strong relations with them [Mr Ritter's family] that affect positively on our relations with him".
The documents say that the gifts should be offered via an intermediary, who was named as Shakir al-Khafaji, an Iraqi-American businessman and close associate of Mr Ritter.
The documents, which are signed by the then director-general of Iraqi intelligence, purport to reveal close links between Mr al-Khafaji and Iraqi intelligence, and suggest that the regime was making available substantial funds to offer him. Mr Ritter and Mr al-Khafaji have both made clear that they received no such gifts or funds.
The papers referring to the so-called "Scott Ritter Project" were found in a file marked "Hosting in hotels 1997-2000", which held details of Iraqi intelligence guests who had travelled to Baghdad. The records were in the same folder as reports of a visit to Baghdad in 1998 by an envoy of Osama bin Laden, which were disclosed in The Telegraph last week.
The five pages of documents dated between July 18 and September 14, 2000, appear to record a trip to Baghdad made by Mr Ritter, Mr al-Khafaji and a film crew. Their visit took place shortly before Mr Ritter raised £250,000 to make a highly controversial documentary about Iraq that was critical of American policy towards Saddam's regime.
Mr Ritter formed a partnership with Mr al-Khafaji to finance the film, Shifting Sands which, according to Mr Ritter, "proved" that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction. In an interview with the New York Times in 2001, Mr Ritter stated that none of Mr al-Khafaji's funding came from Saddam's regime. Of the £250,000 spent on the film, he said that only £26,250 went into his own pocket.
While he confirmed that he had received money from Mr al-Khafaji, Mr Ritter said that he had had his business associate checked by CIA "sources" via a friend who was a reporter, and was reassured.
The documents cast new light on the Iraqi regime's attitude to the film, which was widely denounced as paid-for propaganda. The documents suggest to show that Iraqi intelligence officials had direct contacts with Mr al-Khafaji. They also record discussions among senior officials about offering financial incentives, apparently in an attempt to underwrite projects that Mr al-Khafaji was developing with Mr Ritter.
The correspondence discussed further ways to come up with money to offer to Mr al-Khafaji to cover his travel costs. One letter requests approval to make funds available by siphoning profits from an oil deal, apparently controlled by Iraqi intelligence. The documents state that the matter would be passed on to Tariq Aziz, then Iraq's vice-president, to deal with.
There is no suggestion in the documents that any money or other benefits were ever paid to Mr al-Khafaji.
Last night Mr Ritter said that the Iraqis had tried more than once to compromise Shifting Sands. He confirmed that officials had offered a gold bracelet for his wife and had volunteered to finance the film, either directly or via a French oil company.
Mr Ritter said that he had rebuffed each attempt and filed reports on the approaches to the FBI. He had also filed reports to the US Treasury when he was raising the money for Shifting Sands.
"Be careful how you interpret those documents," he said. "I would hate to read that I had taken Iraqi money, which I did not.
"Perhaps you can find documents relating to the meeting I eventually had with Tariq Aziz, in which I told him I would take no money, and he replied, 'We respect you because you do not have your hand out'," Mr Ritter said.
"I know that the Iraqis had no influence whatsoever on making this film."
Mr al-Khafaji, an Iraqi who has lived in America for 30 years, insisted that the documents proved only that Iraqi intelligence agents were corrupt. "Everybody knows that these people . . . defrauded the government out of their own pockets.
"The US government is well aware of where the money came from for the film. It came from me and two colleagues. It was checked by the government. It came from personal assets and from bank loans," he said.
Perhaps he'd like to revise his earlier remarks a bit...
Well, isn't that interesting. Very good catch!
According to an ABC News article linked on Drudge, these are only vouchers to buy Iraqi oil at a discounted price. The vouchers would then be sold at a profit of only $.50 per barrel. Anyone know if this is accurate, or is just the inevitable CYA spin from the left?
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