I Won Senate Showdown
To Their Faces He Reveals
US Senate as the
Pack of Fools and Liars That They Are
WASHINGTON British Member of Parliament George Galloway returned to the UK Wednesday confident he won a fiery showdown with U.S. senators who have accused him of profiting from the U.N.'s defunct oil-for-food program in Iraq.
"I told the world that Iraq, contrary to your claims, did not have weapons of mass destruction. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to al Qaeda. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to the atrocity on 9/11, 2001. . . . Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong. And 100,000 people have paid with their lives 1,600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies, 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled forever, on a pack of lies. . . . Senator, this is the mother of all smokescreens. You are trying to divert attention from the crimes that you supported."
photo: Allan Milligan/ The Scotsman
Galloway said he was "absolutely" convinced he had been vindicated from allegations that he received vouchers for 20 million barrels of oil from Saddam Hussein's regime.
"These people think they can smear people without them having the right to speak back and this time I got that right and I knocked them for six," he told reporters before leaving the U.S.
He said after his appearance before the Senate panel Tuesday that his accusers had little credibility "outside of Washington."
But the panel's Republican chairman, Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota, hit back, telling media after the session that Galloway's credibility was "very suspect."
Galloway told CNN that while Saddam's regime shared a "lot of responsibility" for deaths in Iraq, so too did the policies of Washington and London.
Galloway, an outspoken critic of the war in Iraq, called the Senate panel's investigation the "mother of all smokescreens" used to divert attention from the "pack of lies" that led to the 2003 invasion.
"I told the world that Iraq, contrary to your claims, did not have weapons of mass destruction. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to al Qaeda. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to the atrocity on 9/11, 2001," he told Coleman.
"Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong. And 100,000 people have paid with their lives 1,600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies, 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled forever, on a pack of lies."
He added: "Senator, this is the mother of all smokescreens. You are trying to divert attention from the crimes that you supported."
The Respect MP said he would continue to demand the withdrawal of U.S. and UK forces from Iraq following his fiery appearance in Washington.
He told CNN the U.S. and British governments were no longer believed in their statements on Iraq and that their forces could not be part of any solution there.
Galloway's appearance before the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee was the first by a politician allegedly involved in the oil-for-food corruption scandal.
In a report last week, the subcommittee stated that deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam granted Galloway vouchers for 20 million barrels of oil between 2000 and 2003.
Galloway strongly disputed that allegation Tuesday.
"I am not now or ever been an oil trader and neither has anyone on my behalf. I have never seen a barrel of oil, owned one, bought one, sold one, and neither has anybody on my behalf," Galloway testified.
He also said he did not own a company that trades in oil.
"If you had any evidence of that I had ever engaged in any actual oil transaction, if you had any evidence that anybody ever gave me any money, it would be before the public and before this (committee today)," Galloway said.
Coleman, a former district attorney, told Galloway before his sworn testimony that "senior Iraqi officials have confirmed that you, in fact, received oil allocations and that the documents that identify you as an allocation recipient are valid."
Galloway challenged that accusation in his opening statement.
"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," he told Coleman.
Rumsfeld comparison Galloway, 51, is a leading critic of British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his alliance with U.S. President George W. Bush in the war in Iraq. He was re-elected on an anti-war platform earlier this month.
He said he was "friendly" with former Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz and met him many times but that he met with Saddam only twice in 1994 and in 2002 the last time to persuade Saddam to allow U.N. weapons inspectors into the country.
He said he had met with Saddam "exactly as many times as Donald Rumsfeld has met with him."
"The difference is Donald Rumsfeld met him to sell him guns and give him maps," Galloway said in his heated opening statement.
"I met him to try and bring about an end to sanctions, suffering and war, and on the second occasion, I met him to try and persuade him to allow Hans Blix and U.N. inspectors back into country."
Rumsfeld visited Baghdad to meet Saddam as President Reagan's Middle East envoy in the 1980s, when the U.S. sided with Iraq in its war with Iran. Blix was chief U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq before the war.
Galloway complained that the panel had determined his guilt without speaking to him.
"You have my name on lists provided to you... by the convicted bank robber and fraudster and con man Ahmed Chalabi, who many people, to their credit, in your country now realize played a decisive role in leading your country into the disaster in Iraq," Galloway told the panel.
Other allegations reportedly came from Iraqi detainees.
"In these circumstances, knowing what the world knows about how you treat prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison, in Bagram Air Base [Afghanistan], in Guantanamo Bay including, if I may say, British citizens being held in those places I'm not sure how much credibility anyone would put on anything you manage to get from a prisoner in those circumstances," he said.
The Senate subcommittee has alleged in recent days that a number of European politicians were rewarded by Saddam for supporting Iraq's bid to lift economic sanctions imposed after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990.
Europeans implicated In addition to Galloway, the panel also implicated former French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua, who allegedly was allocated 11 million barrels.
"I wrote to Mr. Coleman," Pasqua said Sunday, "and I told him that all allegations about myself are false."
Russian Deputy Parliament Speaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who was accused Monday of receiving 76 million barrels of Iraqi crude oil, denied the accusation.
"I've never signed any contract and never received a cent from Iraq," Zhirinovsky told a Russian TV interviewer.
CNN's Phil Hirschkorn contributed to this report.
source: http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/05/18/oil.food/ 15jun2005
George Galloway featured on BBC NewsnightGeorge Galloway (born 16 August 1954) is a British politician, and the Respect Member of Parliament for Bethnal Green and Bow in East London. He was previously a Member of Parliament for the Labour Party, representing the Glasgow constituencies of Hillhead (1987-1997) and Kelvin (1997-2005), but he was expelled from the Labour Party in October 2003 because of controversial statements he made about the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Together with some other opponents of that war, in January 2004 he formed a new political party, RESPECT The Unity Coalition, and was returned to Parliament as its candidate in the 2005 general election.
Galloway was born in Dundee, Scotland. After attending the Harris Academy, he worked for a garden centre and then for Michelin tyres. In 1977 he was appointed as a Labour Party organiser, and became well-known in Scottish Labour politics for his powerful speeches. He was elected to the Scottish Labour Executive - the senior body within the Labour Party in Scotland, and in 1980 at the age of 26 he became Chairman of the Scottish Labour Party, one of the youngest in history.
According to The Guardian, "Galloway developed his lifelong passion for the Middle East after a chance meeting with a young Palestinian. He was 23, the organiser of the Dundee Labour party and a rising star. The young man dropped into his office to plead the cause of his people, and Galloway was converted. He visited a Palestinian refugee camp and twinned Dundee with the West Bank town of Nablus, flying the Palestinian flag over Dundee town hall." (http://politics.guardian.co.uk/iraq/story/0,12956,941506,00.html)
In 1983 Galloway became General Secretary of the charity War On Want (founded by Harold Wilson), which had strong Labour Party connections. He increased its income sevenfold in three years, but faced accusations of misuse of his expenses account, which was £21,000 in 1985-86, to stay in luxury hotels when on foreign trips. He paid back £1,720 after an audit identified a lack of controls, but was cleared of any dishonesty. War On Want was found to have been insolvent, and subsequently dismissed all its staff and went into administration. It was rescued and relaunched in 1991.
Galloway was married from 1979 to 1999 to Elaine Fyffe, with whom he has a daughter. In 2000 he married Dr. Amireh Abu-Zayyad, a Muslim Palestinian academic. She is currently in the process of filing for divorce, alleging that Galloway has been unfaithful throughout the marriage. Galloway has stated that "I didnt show my wife the respect she deserves", but he insists that the allegations should not be taken at face value. He says that "Two women and a man have been calling my wife incessantly for the past year, telling her stories about me and other women", and that he was genuinely astonished to learn that his wife was filing for divorce.
Member of Parliament, Glasgow
Galloway was selected as Labour candidate for the Glasgow Hillhead seat formerly held by Roy Jenkins of the SDP. He ran for the Labour Party National Executive Committee in 1986 but came in next to last; at the 1986 Labour Party Conference he made a strong attack on Shadow Chancellor Roy Hattersley for not favouring exchange controls.
In the 1987 election, Galloway won Glasgow Hillhead with a majority of 3,251. He faced an almost immediate scandal when, as part of the War on Want expenses probe, he was asked about a conference on Mykonos, Greece and replied:
"I travelled to and spent lots of time with people in Greece, many of whom were women, some of whom were known carnally to me. I actually had sexual intercourse with some of the people in Greece."
The revelation put Galloway on the front pages of the tabloid press and the Executive Committee of his Constituency Labour Party passed a vote of no confidence in him in February 1988. He only narrowly survived to win reselection in June 1989.
In 1990, an advertisement appeared in the Labour movement magazine Tribune headed "Lost: MP who answers to the name of George", "balding and has been nicknamed gorgeous", claiming that the lost MP had been seen in Romania but had not been to a constituency meeting for a year. A telephone number was given which turned out to be for the Groucho Club in London, from which Galloway had been blackballed. Galloway threatened legal action and pointed out he had been to five constituency meetings.
In the 1997 and 2001 elections Galloway was the Labour candidate for the safe Labour seat of Glasgow Kelvin, winning with majorities of over 16000 and 12000 respectively. By the 2005 election, the seat had disappeared in the redrawing of Scottish constituencies, as a result of which Galloway chose to stand in Bethnal Green and Bow.