The UN Oil-for-Food Scandal really should have the Mafia up in arms. The term "Mafia" used to mean "organized crime." But how could John Gotti possibly compare to what goes on daily in corporate America (or Europe, or Japan, or China)? They wouldn't even make the farm team.
And so this leads to the Galloway case in which, inexplicably, a British MP alleged to have been bribed with ca. six hundred thousand dollars by Saddam Hussein gets equal or greater billing in press accounts with corporations alleged to have received tens or hundreds of millions. It gets even more awkward when one learns that most of the money went to a charity that has been investigated and found to be legitimate and that the remainder is alleged to have gone to Galloway's wife.
But worst of all, what we are told we must believe about Galloway just doesn't add up.
There is a scene in the gospels in which it says that no two witnesses could agree on what it was that Jesus had done that deserved punishment. This was significant in Jewish law, since it was forbidden to administer punishment without the testimony of two witnesses. But there was a deeper point: liars tend to contradict themselves and one another, while the truth rings clear.
Heaven forbid that I should compare British MP George Galloway to anyone except George Galloway. It can't be done. But the observation that tangled witness accounts often point to false witness seems to apply in the question of whether Galloway did or did not take bribes from Saddam. Consider this, from The Guardian:
A UN inquiry, headed by Paul Volcker...claimed that $120,000 had been paid into the bank account of Mr Galloway's wife, Amineh Abu-Zayyad, in 2000 [by Burhan Chalabi of Delta Services, originating in Fortum Oil and Gas]...On Tuesday, a Senate sub-committee report claimed that she had received a separate payment from another businessman involved in the Iraqi oil trade worth $150,000 [also in 2000, this from Fawaz Zureikat]
Now I haven't seen the Volcker report yet, but these appear to be mutually exclusive tales. The amounts do not match. The persons alleged to have made the payments are not identical. The one point in which the agree is that the payments went to Galloway's wife
, who (a) is a very independent woman and (b) denies that this occurred.
Now Phoenix Woman has raised the point that the Bush Administration continues to do business with the person said to have supplied Galloway, Fawaz Zureikat. OK, but we already know that the Administration is crooked. The question is whether Galloway is or is not. At this point, one has to say that the contradictions in the allegations against Galloway are significant and troubling. Someone, either Volcker or Coleman&Levin--or both-- appears to be wrong in significant details and seem in any event to be drawing a premature conclusion, namely that Galloway was aware of what his wife was doing.
What's really interesting is the source of the allegations made by Volcker:
In a fresh allegation, the report said Mr Galloway had conversations in Baghdad about oil allocations with Augusto Giangrandi, apparently a Chilean oil trader....According to the Volcker report, Mr Giangrandi, a trader for Bayoil and Italtech, 'stated that he had conversations with Mr Galloway in Baghdad about oil sales under the programme'...."
Now, there's nothing in the full Guardian quote to make the conversation (which Galloway denies ever happened) sound like anything illegal. The bombshell is in Augusto Giangrandi's connections:
Mr Giangrandi, a trader for Bayoil and Italtech...
Bayoil. David B. Chalmers. Texas.
Does the trail lead to Bush?
One angle suggests to me that it does.
In a report made public Monday night, Democratic investigators on the subcommittee traced BayOil's relationship with Saddam's regime back to the mid-1980s, during the brutal, 8-year Iran-Iraq War. The United States provided support for Iraq during the war because of fears about Iran's growing power in the region..."This arrangement, in effect, allowed Iraq to trade oil for cluster bombs," the report said.
A former employee and partner of David Chalmers (he served as chairman of the Bahamas Bayoil subsidiary), Augusto Giangrandi began illegal trading of arms for oil in the 1980s while George Herbert Walker Bush was vice-president. This trading was done with the blessing of the Reagan Administration and almost certainly with the knowledge of Poppy Bush.
But oddly, I can't yet find donations by Chalmers or Bayoil to the Bushes. He's given to the DSCC and to Phil Gramm. His most recent donation is $300 to the NRCC and even that is 2002.
This is almost inconceivable. Texans, even Democrats, were tripping over themselves to plump for Dubya in 2000. Either Chalmers is very eccentric, or someone who really doesn't like the Bushes, or clever enough to keep his name off contributions, or he's so big that he doesn't need to play the political game.
This tale is not told, and when it is, it seems unlikely Galloway will be its conclusion.