Skip to comments.British Lawmaker Lashes Out at Senators
Posted on 05/17/2005 1:27:30 PM PDT by Brilliant
WASHINGTON - British lawmaker George Galloway denounced U.S. senators on their home turf Tuesday, denying accusations that he profited from the U.N. oil-for-food program and accusing them of unfairly tarnishing his name.
Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., questioned Galloway's honesty and told reporters, "If in fact he lied to this committee, there will have to be consequences."
Galloway's appearance was an odd spectacle on Capitol Hill: A legislator from a friendly nation, voluntarily testifying under oath, without immunity, at a combative congressional hearing where neither side showed much pretense of diplomatic niceties.
"Now, I know that standards have slipped over the last few years in Washington, but for a lawyer, you're remarkably cavalier with any idea of justice," Galloway told Coleman, chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs investigation subcommittee.
He then accused Coleman of maligning his name before giving him a chance to defend himself and of using the oil-for-food investigation to hide the failures of U.S. policies in Iraq.
"Senator, this is the mother of all smoke screens," he said.
The panel is one of several congressional committees investigating allegations that Saddam Hussein manipulated the $64 billion oil-for-food program to get kickbacks and build international opposition to U.N. sanctions against Iraq set up after the 1991 Gulf War. The program was created as an exception to the sanctions, allowing Saddam to sell oil and use the proceeds to buy food and other humanitarian items.
Coleman's panel last week released documents that it says shows that Galloway and other international figures received valuable oil allocations from Saddam to reward them for their opposition to sanctions. The allocations could be resold for a profit. Among the officials identified besides Galloway were former French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua and Russian politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky, both of whom denied wrongdoing.
Coleman's subcommittee claimed that Galloway funneled allocations through the Mariam Appeal a fund he established in 1998 to help a 4-year-old Iraqi girl suffering from leukemia and received allocations worth 20 million barrels from 2000 to 2003. Coleman also alleged that Galloway was linked to kickbacks to Saddam, saying the Iraqi leader received more than $300,000 in surcharges on allocations involving Galloway.
Galloway vehemently rejected the accusations.
"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," he said.
He said that Coleman's panel based some of its accusations on the same fake documents used by The Daily Telegraph newspaper, which he sued for libel and won a $1.4 million libel judgment. The committee says it used different documents.
Coleman pressed Galloway on his relationship with Jordanian businessman Fawaz Zureikat. Galloway described Zureikat as the second largest contributor to the Mariam Appeal, while congressional investigators consider him Galloway's intermediary in receiving oil proceeds.
Asked if he knew that Zureikat was involved in oil deals with Iraq in 2001, Galloway said he knew Zureikat was doing extensive business in Iraq, but didn't know the details.
When Coleman reacted skeptically, Galloway told him, "There are lots of contributors to your political campaign funds. I don't suppose you ask any of them how they made the money they give you."
Galloway also said it was "beyond the realm of the ridiculous" that he would give $300,000 in kickbacks to Saddam.
Speaking to reporters after the hearing, both Coleman and the panel's top Democrat, Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, questioned Galloway's credibility. Asked if Galloway violated his oath to tell the truth before the committee, Coleman said, "I don't know. We'll have to look over the record."
Galloway has been an outspoken opponent of both Iraq wars and of the U.N. sanctions, which he said were killing innocent Iraqis. He was expelled from Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labour Party after urging British soldiers not to fight in Iraq. Galloway was recently re-elected to Parliament this month as a representative of his own anti-Iraq war Respect party.
Blustering and bullying will not work for Gorgeous George here. Senators have immunity from libel when on the floor/in committee. Also, they can charge him with perjury and/or contempt.
Why was all of the "lashing" coming from one side? Why didn't the senators get tough with him and make some news?
It's about time that somebody stood up to that sanctimonious thug, Norm Coleman, and said, "HAVE YOU NO DECENCY, SIR?"
Yup, if they've got the goods on him. Course, if the "info" came from the same guys who told us there were WMDs in Iraq, I would not make assumptions.
Still I am delighted that Galloway came here to defend himself. Now maybe we'll get some of those documents that the participants in this oil for food fraud have been holding back. He's submitted himself to the jurisdiction of our courts.
I admit I found this whole episode strange. What is the point (other than fair play) of allowing him to come over here, make a telegenically crackpot opening statement and then face a few relatively inconsequential questions from senators before being dismissed?
If I'm reading it right, Coleman is threatening him with perjury, if he lied. I'd say that's getting tough.
I watched it and it did actually work. The Committee never laid a finger on him.
Maybe they were giving him an opportunity to commit perjury.
I thought about that, but as I was listening to the FR discussion I don't recall any events like that. But I could have easily missed one.
I'd say that's talking tentatively in political double speak, like the sanctimonious little twit Norm Coleman really is.
The real problem is that they may or may not have the proof. I'd think that if these allegations are true, then there must be some evidence of it other than some Iraqi official's testimony.
What I find funny about this is its one politico calling another politico a liar, is that like a kettle calling a pot black.
Biased reporting. The committee did not just "say" it used different documents. It entered them into the record.
"face a few relatively inconsequential questions from senators before being dismissed?"
Exactly. It seems like they were just setting up a soap box for him.
They don't have any proof. That is why Galloway is there, and why no-one produced any. If they had proof they would show it.
In other news, Paul Wellstone is still dead and Fritz "Where's the Beef" Mondale still lost.
Just a denial can be perjury, if it's false. He denied it. So if it turns out that it's true, then he's in big trouble.
Of course, I don't know how far the Senate wants to take this. And since a lot of these documents are overseas, they may not be able to get their hands on them.
I would say that he lacks any brains at all. Who knows what kind of incriminating documents Saddam kept under the option of using them to blackmail Galloway, if he failed to toe the line just as Hussein pleased? Those documents would be among the tons and tons of papers preserved by Saddam for just such a purpose.
Coalitition researchers have been combing through this mountain of damning evidence for 2+ years now. Imagine what they have found, and will find?
What do you bet other far wiser European bureaucrats on-the-take secretly offer their testimony and other documents in exchange for immunity? Galloway is spitting into a hurricane. This should be fun to watch.