Another strand to the war issue has been the discrediting of anti-war voices. One of the fiercest campaigns was mounted against George Galloway, a Member of Parliament who was accused by various newspapers of accepting bribes from Saddam's Iraq originating in the Oil-for-Food program and being passed through a charity established by Galloway. People who oppose the war know that means defending other opponents against false charges, yet without stepping over the line into assuming that no charge against a war opponent can be true.
Now the Senate has escalated, with a report
from the Subcommittee on Homeland Security, which" claims his estranged wife, Dr Amineh Abu-Zayyad, received approximately $150,000 in connection with one allocation of oil. It also alleges that at least $446,000 was funnelled to Mr Galloway's Mariam Appeal through several allocations....The committee attributes its findings to personal interviews with high-level members of the Hussein regime, anonymous oil traders with personal knowledge of Mr Galloway's involvement and extensive bank records.It claims that a Jordanian businessman and friend of Mr Galloway's, Fawaz Zureikat, channelled the money from the UN oil-for-food programme to the MP's former wife and to the Mariam Appeal.It also cites testimony from the former Iraqi deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz who has been in jail since the US invasion of Iraq and who allegedly told investigators Mr Galloway had requested oil allocations in the name of Mr Zureikat.The report also quotes the former Iraqi oil minister Amer Rashid as confirming Mr Galloway was granted oil allocations.
Understand: this is serious. Democratic Senator Carl Levin, normally a cautious and sober voice, has joined this accusation.
Greg Palast, who won his spurs in documentary analysis seems to feel that Galloway is not only guilty of accepting bribes
but an execrable human being as well. Certainly it would not be a first if a politician were found to have his hand in the till, and Galloway can't be assumed automatically to be innocent.
And yet the public has none of the facts before it and there are plenty of reasons to believe that Galloway might be innocent: there were tons of forged documents floating around after the Iraq War, the Christian Science Monitor paid damages to Galloway because its own experts said it had been fooled and, as Galloway points out, even if a bank document says that a transfer was made, that doesn't prove it was received. Saddam could easily have arranged a fake transfer as part of some other scheme.
Galloway's response is what I expect of an innocent man.
He demands to be charged with perjury, saying "that he was prepared to fly out immediately to the United States if Senator Norm Coleman, who heads the committee, was prepared to bring charges" ...It is understood that senior Iraqi members of the deposed regime have made statements to the committee, including Tariq Aziz, Taha Yasin Ramadan, the former vice-president of the country, and Amer Rashid, the former oil minister. "I've never met Ramadan or Rashid but I do know that they are facing charges which may carry a death sentence. As is Tariq Aziz. He has been held incommunicado for two years - and we know what goes on in US-controlled prisons in Iraq - and we also know from his lawyers that he has been offered a deal to testify," said Galloway. "On the one hand the US government accuses these men of being homicidal maniacs, on the other they assert that their coerced testimony is utterly trustworthy. Well, let Senator Coleman bring them and his unnamed sources to court in a case against me, and we'll see what the world concludes."
As far as I am concerned, Senators Levin and Coleman have abused their power even if Galloway is guilty. Billions of dollars have been stolen from the Oil-for-Food program by American and European companies. And yet the Senate Subcommittee has time to look intently at a few hundred thousand. This looks like a classic abuse of power.
Second, the proliferation of forged documents, from the Niger uranium documents to forged documents found all over Baghdad show that we should be very, very slow to make accusations.
You can express your opinion, one way or another to Senator Levin at:
Senator Carl Levin
Address: 269 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington DC 20510
[PW butts in: Bear in mind that Galloway's ex-wife also denies, heatedly, that these pilferings ever happened. And also ask yourself this: If Fawaz Zureikat is such a bad, bad man, then why is BushCo doing business with him?]