Skip to comments.Iraq Report Puts Spotlight on France, Russia Bribery
Posted on 10/07/2004 4:26:58 AM PDT by katiedidit1
Iraq Report Puts Spotlight on France, Russia Bribery Allegations By Patrick Goodenough CNSNews.com Pacific Rim Bureau Chief October 07, 2004 (CNSNews.com) - Saddam Hussein subverted the United Nations oil-for-food program in a bid to bribe French and Russian officials and companies, in the expectation that the two permanent members of the Security Council would use their influence on behalf of Iraq.
That charge arguably constitutes the most politically explosive element of the U.S. government's Iraq Survey Group report on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, released Wednesday.
Allegations in the report lend further weight to long-held U.S. and British suspicions that the Iraq policies pursued by Paris and Moscow, culminating in their strong opposition to the war, were driven - at least in part - by financial motives.
Iraq went so far as to assess the "possibilities for financially supporting one of the candidates in an upcoming  French presidential election," according to official Iraqi documents recovered by the Iraq Survey Group (ISG).
"Saddam's regime, in order to induce France to aid in getting sanctions lifted, targeted friendly companies and foreign political parties that possessed either extensive business ties to Iraq or held pro-Iraq positions," the report said. "In addition, Iraq sought out individuals whom they believed were in a position to influence foreign policy."
The report was based in part on Iraqi intelligence documents, FBI interrogations of the imprisoned former dictator, and interviews with former regime officials, including such close confidantes of Saddam's as former deputy prime minister and foreign minister Tariq Aziz.
Although the ISG said it found no evidence that Saddam had manufactured any WMD for a decade, it also concluded that he wanted to recreate Iraq's WMD capability once sanctions were removed.
In order to buy favors and hasten the end of the sanctions, he used as a tool the oil-for-food program. Operating from 1996 until 2003, the U.N. deal aimed to ease the impact of sanctions on ordinary Iraqis by allowing Baghdad to sell a limited amount of oil in order to purchase food and humanitarian items.
Among the findings contained in the report, the ISG said that: -- Before the oil-for-food program was launched, Iraq paid $1 million to the ruling French Socialist party, with the money handed by Baghdad's then ambassador to Paris, Razzaq al-Hashimi, to the then French defense minister, Pierre Joxe.
-- Saddam personally approved the funding of foreign activists campaigning for the abolition of U.N. sanctions against Iraq.
-- He focused on France, Russia and China in his bid to win support for a lifting of sanctions and opposition to a U.S. war.
-- "Saddam sought favorable relations with France because France was influential in the Security Council."
-- Iraqi intelligence officials "targeted a number of French individuals that Iraq thought had a close relationship to French President Chirac" including two of his "counselors."
-- Aziz awarded several French "individuals" oil vouchers in return for using their influence to help lift the sanctions.
-- According to Aziz, the "primary motive for French co-operation" was to secure future oil deals once sanctions were abolished. French, Russian and Chinese oil companies were pursuing lucrative oil contacts in Iraq.
-- At one point, in 2002, Iraqi intelligence considered the chances of giving financial support for an (unnamed) candidate in France's presidential election.
-- Saddam learned as early as May 2002 that France would veto U.S. plans to go to war.
-- A memo to Saddam said intelligence officials met with a French lawmaker who had "assured Iraq that France would use its veto in the UN Security Council against any American decision to attack Iraq."
-- "Iraq attempts to use oil gifts to influence Russian policymakers were on a lavish and almost indiscriminate scale," and included promised payment of some $15 million to a Russian agent, to have been paid in installments in 2002.
-- Thirty-two percent of oil-for-food contracts went to Russia in the form of oil vouchers and gifts to officials, political parties and oligarchs.
-- "The lion's share of Iraq's undeveloped oil fields went to Russia."
The ISG report included a lengthy list of individuals, firms and governments around the world that were allocated Iraqi oil vouchers.
"Saddam personally approved and removed all names of voucher recipients. He made all modifications to the list, adding or deleting names at will."
Voucher recipients included the Russian foreign ministry, Russian ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky and his party, former French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua, former head of the UN's humanitarian program Benon Sevan, outgoing Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri, and the "son of [the] Russian ambassador in Baghdad."
The report pointed out that many of the instances, receiving the voucher and the oil were legitimate transactions under the oil-for-food program.
Some of the names appeared on another list, published by an Iraqi newspaper last January, which in part prompted an investigation by the U.N. into the running of the oil-for-food program.
Several U.S. congressional panels are also investigating the program.
Early this week, Russia's Foreign Ministry issued a statement denying allegations in U.S. media reports that Russia, France and China were hindering efforts to investigate allegations of corruption in the food-for-oil program.
"These sort of claims do not correspond to reality," the statement said, noting that Russia had supported the adopting of Security Council resolution 1538," a measure approved in April establishing the inquiry into the graft allegations.
A French ministry of foreign affairs spokesman said Wednesday that France supported the Security Council decision to investigate the allegations and was committed to cooperate fully with it.
The head of the U.N.'s inquiry, former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, was due to hold talks in Paris on Thursday, the ministry official said. "Mr. Volcker's meetings will be an opportunity to confirm our commitment and to examine the practical forms that this cooperation might take."
In a statement responding to release of the ISG report, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said it showed that Saddam pursued "an aggressive strategy to subvert the U.N. oil-for-food program and bring down U.N. sanctions."
"The ISG report shows that Iraq successfully devised methods to acquire and import items prohibited under U.N. sanctions. And it shows that the number of countries supporting Saddam's schemes to undermine U.N. sanctions was increasing."
The U.S. Government Accountability Office has concluded that Saddam's regime stole more than $10 billion from the oil-for-food program. Also see: Summary of Iraq Survey Group report (CIA website
Whoops - there goes one of John Kerry's 'Allies'
Now the question remains on whether the media will cover this as it should be. Not buried on page 80 of the NYT or as a footnote on the evening news. The best thing that could happen for the Russians, French and Chinese is that Dan Rather tells the story. That way, no one would believe it.
FOX was doing a good job with it this morning - I don't have much hope for the MSM as they would rather pass on a huge story if they can hurt Bush.
Kerry's friends the French and Germans. He must be so proud.
"Opposition by the bribed".
Thanks, some of us like to bookmark and read the article.
The Dems have no real principles as far as can be seen. They'll clearly do anything for power. Breaking and entering burglaries like this week in Wash State, violent raids on GOP HQ's as seen in several cities, bribes of clean Jockey's, money, whatever, voter fraud as seen in Franklin and Delaware OH and elsewhere, naked protests, you name it. I'll speculate that they may share the Russian and French aversion to war, not on principle, but to avoid exposure for some heretofore unreported misdeeds?
Hoping some GOP attack dogs go after Kerry for pushing for the UN to solve every single problem facing the world when in reality the UN is a BIG part of the problem. Treated like the "Holy Temple" or "Sacred Cow" they are more like the "Temple of Doom"
Few have the guts to touch them.
You are very welcome... there is also a reference to the CIA report...I plan to read at the end of this article.
ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ...when? I dont think hell will freeze over for quite some time
LOL. Well, I ain't holding my breath while I wait. CNN is so clueless.
and I am going to start using it....ty:)
"Opposition by the bribed".
It's comforting to know there's so much integrity on the Security Council. The world is in good hands.....NOT!