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.
You know, he was'nt too bad either. At least he did'nt like "Bolsheviks". He sure could turn a phrase, too. That "Iron Curtain" one sure was a winner...
Seriously though, I wonder what his reaction to the modern day Labor Party would be if he could see it? I suspect it would much the same as Harry Truman's would be if he was able to see the current pack of 'rats.
He has also denied this as well. In fact the whole point of saying that he had never bought, sold, seen oil...etc is that he could only do it with vouchers.
Perjury isn't a legistlative thing, he would be at odds with the Judiciary.
I would doubt that he is anymore innocent of being on the Iraqi payroll than Scott Ritter was. Whether Galloway actually directly received money from the sale of oil allocations may be questionable.
Both he and Ritter were long time mouthpieces for Saddam. It is well established that Ritter received money from Saddam through an Iraqi-American intermediary and the Miriam Fund was a conduit for cash to Galloway and his family.
On the issue of contempt of congress, the committee would have to find him in contempt and then persuade the AG to charge him. The US would then have to ask for the UK to send him on back.
I'd love to see Galloway in a US prison...
Yes, I thought the Senators were very poor and Galloway handled them easily. When you are a decade out with the exact dates of your main evidence, and spend 5 minutes rambling when asking a question you are not going to trouble a man vastly experienced in confrontational British politics and TV.
"In a more sane world, he would be prosecuted within his own country, but that's not going to happen either."
Sadly, he has just been to court in the UK. He took a newspaper who levelled similar allegations against him to court for libel - he won something like £150,000 in damages. I actually am starting to believe he really did have nothing to do with any oil transfers, and this whole stupid, ill thought out senate thing has completely distracted everyones eye from the real problems with George Galaway and the appeasement he stands for.
All other things being equal our pre-packaged, airbrushed, scripted American senators will lose out in open debate to rough and tumble British MPs. Those Brits aren't afraid to mix up it up with anyone including hecklers. Our Senators, by contrast, try to have the hecklers arrested.
I agree. I give you an example that I previously touched on and I have noticed this in other US committees. When a Senator asks a question they don't ask one sharp, precise hard-hitting question, but ramble on about their policies for minutes on end and make five nebulous points when one crystalline sentence would do.
I think it stems from your poor political interviews on TV. In the UK there are interviewers who even interrupt the PM and look at them (politicians) as if they are pieces of s**t. This makes for good democracy.
Galloway's problem is that he doesn't know who's got what on him. Or what else is out there. This sounds as though it may have been a fishing expedition on his part.
And maybe a warning shot across the bows of any American pol who had his/her mitts in Oil For Food.
That's what I thought.
The money was laundered. They didn't ask him if he knew any person or entity that received funds.
His wife got some as "salary" through the charity. The Senators were second rate interrogators.
Yes. I believe it is entirely possible that this guy is innocent of taking bribe-oil from Saddam-- which just makes his servitude to Saddam all the more jaw-dropping.
If a Senator in the US were this closely allied to Saddam, it would be nothing short of scandalous-- and said Seantor would certainly not survive re-election.
I'll agree with that one.
I understand if he commits a crime while on our soil he's subject to our laws but I just wasn't sure how it worked with contempt of congress.
It's strange that the UK intelligence services and the US Senate do not have proof but you do. Are you in the CIA? :)
Maybe you are mistaking his friendship to the Arab world to Saddam. He has always called Saddam a brutal dictator.
Might there also be some lingering resentment of anyone Celtic against anyone named "Norman"? Or of anyone with "Gal" in his name against anyone with "man" in his name? Twice?
I hope that was a joke!
Are you saying he was not actively working in Saddam's interests?
"It's strange that the UK intelligence services and the US Senate do not have proof but you do. Are you in the CIA? :)"
It's strange why the US Senators and their staff didn't bother to read Brit news articles about his wife's salary and his expensive Portuguese villa. Many were here on FR. He admitted the "salary." BTW the wife? Yasser Arafat's niece.
The Senators were third rate. If the Jordanian gave him money he would have said it was for a different reasons. Politicians know plenty about these things. I think they weren't prepared for being put on trial themselves via various lib-buzz details.