George Galloway Testifies Before U.S. Senate Re U.N's Oil-

George Galloway Testifies Before U.S. Senate Re U.N's Oil-

Postby admin » Thu Apr 10, 2014 5:02 am

George Galloway, Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow (UK), delivered this statement on 2005-05-18 to US Senators who have accused him of corruption.

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George Galloway after arriving in the Senate committee room to give evidence.
(Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Senator, I am not now, nor have I 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 anyone on my behalf.

Now I know that standards have slipped in the last few years in Washington, but for a lawyer you are remarkably cavalier with any idea of justice. I am here today but last week you already found me guilty. You traduced my name around the world without ever having asked me a single question, without ever having contacted me, without ever written to me or telephoned me, without any attempt to contact me whatsoever. And you call that justice.

Now I want to deal with the pages that relate to me in this dossier and I want to point out areas where there are — let's be charitable and say errors. Then I want to put this in the context where I believe it ought to be. On the very first page of your document about me you assert that I have had 'many meetings' with Saddam Hussein. This is false.

I have had two meetings with Saddam Hussein, once in 1994 and once in August of 2002. By no stretch of the English language can that be described as "many meetings" with Saddam Hussein.

As a matter of fact, I have met Saddam Hussein exactly the same number of times as Donald Rumsfeld met him. The difference is Donald Rumsfeld met him to sell him guns and to give him maps the better to target those guns. I met him to try and bring about an end to sanctions, suffering and war, and on the second of the two occasions, I met him to try and persuade him to let Dr Hans Blix and the United Nations weapons inspectors back into the country — a rather better use of two meetings with Saddam Hussein than your own Secretary of State for Defence made of his.

I was an opponent of Saddam Hussein when British and Americans governments and businessmen were selling him guns and gas. I used to demonstrate outside the Iraqi embassy when British and American officials were going in and doing commerce.

You will see from the official parliamentary record, Hansard, from the 15th March 1990 onwards, voluminous evidence that I have a rather better record of opposition to Saddam Hussein than you do and than any other member of the British or American governments do.

Now you say in this document, you quote a source, you have the gall to quote a source, without ever having asked me whether the allegation from the source is true, that I am 'the owner of a company which has made substantial profits from trading in Iraqi oil'.

Senator, I do not own any companies, beyond a small company whose entire purpose, whose sole purpose, is to receive the income from my journalistic earnings from my employer, Associated Newspapers, in London. I do not own a company that's been trading in Iraqi oil. And you have no business to carry a quotation, utterly unsubstantiated and false, implying otherwise.

Now 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. If you had any of the letters against me that you had against Zhirinovsky and even Pasquale (ph), they would have been up there in your slide show for the members of your committee today.

You have my name on lists provided to you by the Darfur inquiry, provided to him by the convicted bankrobber and fraudster and conman 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.

There were 270 names on that list originally. That somehow has been filtered down to the names you chose to deal with in this committee. Some of the names included: the former secretary to His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, the former head of the African National Congress presidential office, and many others, who had one defining characteristic in common. They all stood against the policy of sanctions and war which you've vociferously prosecuted and which has led us to this disaster.

You caught Mr. Taha Yassin Ramadan. Well, you have something on me. I've never met Mr. Taha Yassin Ramadan. Your subcommittee apparently has. But I do know he's your prisoner. I believe he's in Abu Ghraib prison. I believe he's facing war crimes, charges punishable by death. In these circumstances, knowing what the world knows about how you treat prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison, in Bagram Air Base, in Guantanamo Bay, including, 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.

But you quote thirteen words from Taha Yassin Ramadan, whom I have never met. If he said what he said, then he is wrong. And if you had any evidence that I had ever engaged in any actual transaction, if you had any evidence that anybody ever gave me any money, it would be before the public and before this commitment today.

Because I agreed with your Mr. Greenblatt (ph). Your Mr. Greenblatt was absolutely correct. What counts is not the ones on the paper. What counts is where's the money, Senator. Who paid me hundreds of thousands of dollars of of money? The answer to that is nobody. And if you had anybody who ever paid me a penny, you would have produced them here today.

Now, you refer at length to a company named in these documents as Radial (ph) Petroleum. I say to you under oath here today, I have never heard of this company. I have never met anyone from this company. This company has never paid a penny to me. And I'll tell you something else, I can assure you that Radial Petroleum has never paid a single penny to the Miriam Appeal Campaign. Not a thin dime.

I don't know who Radial Petroleum are, but I dare say if you were to ask them, they would confirm that they have never met me or ever paid me a penny.

While I'm on that subject, who is this senior former regime official that you spoke to yesterday? Don't you think I have a right to know? Don't you think the committee and the public have a right to know who this senior regime official you were quoting against him, interviewed yesterday, actually is? No.

One of the most serious of the mistakes that you have made in this set of documents is, to be frank, such a schoolboy howler as to make a fool of the efforts that you have made. You assert, on page 19, not once, but twice that the documents that you're referring to cover a different period in time from the documents covered by "The Daily Telegraph," which were the subject of a libel action won by me in the high court in England late last year. You state that "The Daily Telegraph" article cited documents from 1992 and 1993, whereas you are dealing with documents dating from 2001.

Senator, "The Daily Telegraph's" documents date identically to the documents that you're dealing with in your report here. None of "The Daily Telegraph's" documents dealt with a period of 1992 to 1993.

I had never set foot in Iraq until late in 1993, never in my life. There could possibly be no documents relating to oil-for-food matters in 1992-'93, for the oil-for-food scheme did not exist at that time.

And yet, you've allocated a full section of this document to claiming that your documents are from a different era to "The Daily Telegraph" documents when the opposite is true. Your documents and "The Daily Telegraph" documents deal with exactly the same period.

But perhaps you were confusing "The Daily Telegraph" action with "The Christian Science Monitor." "The Christian Science Monitor" did indeed publish on its front pages a set of allegations against me very similar to the ones that your committee have made. They did indeed rely on documents, which started in 1992, 1993. These documents were unmasked by "The Christian Science Monitor" themselves as forgeries.

Now, the neocon Web sites and newspapers in which you're such a hero, Senator, were all actually cockahoot at the publication of "The Christian Science Monitor" documents. They were absolutely convinced of their authenticity. They were all absolutely convinced that these documents showed me receiving $10 million from the Saddam Hussein regime, and they were all lies.

In the same week as "The Daily Telegraph" published their documents against me, "The Christian Science Monitor" published theirs, which turned out to be forgeries, and the British newspaper mill on Sunday purchased a third set of documents which also on forensic examination turned out to be forgeries. So there's nothing fanciful about this, nothing at all fanciful about it. The existence of forged documents implicating me in commercial activities with the Iraqi regime is a proven fact. It's a proven fact that these forged documents existed and were being circulated amongst right-wing newspapers in Baghdad and around the world in the immediate aftermath of the fall of the Iraqi regime.

Now, senator, I gave my heart and soul to oppose the policy that you promoted. I gave my political life's blood to try to stop the mass killing of Iraqis by the sanctions on Iraq, which killed a million Iraqis, most of them children. Most of them died before they even knew that they were Iraqis, but they died for no other reason other than that they were Iraqis, With the misfortune to be born at that time. I gave my heart and soul to stop you committing the disaster that you did commit in invading Iraq.

And I told the world that your case for the war was a pack of lies. 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. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that the Iraqi people would resist a British and American invasion of their country and that the fall of Baghdad would not be the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning.

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.

If the world had listened to Kofi Annan, whose dismissal you demanded, if the world had listened to President Chirac, who you want to paint as some kind of corrupt traitor, if the world had listened to me and the anti-war movement in Britain, we would not be in the disaster that we're in today.

Senator, this is the mother of all smokescreens. You are trying to divert attention from the crimes that you supported, from the theft of billions of dollars of Iraq's wealth. Have a look at the real oil- for-food scandal. Have a look at the 14 months you were in charge of Baghdad, the first 14 months, when $8.8 billion of Iraq's wealth went missing on your watch. Have a look at Halliburton and the other American corporations that stole Iraq's money, but the money of the American taxpayer. Have a look at the oil that you didn't even meter that you were shipping out of the country and selling, the proceeds of which went who knows where. Have a look at the $800 million you gave to American military commanders to hand out around the country without even counting it or weighing it. Have a look at the real scandal, breaking in the newspapers today. Revealed in the (INAUDIBLE) testimony in this committee, that the biggest sanctions busters were not me or Russian politicians or French politicians; the real sanctions busters were your own companies with the connivance of your own government.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mr. Galloway. Mr. Galloway, can we start by talking about...

[PART MISSING]

GALLOWAY: ... where they got the money from.

SEN. NORM COLEMAN (R), MINNESOTA: So Mr. Galloway, you would have this committee believe that your designated representative from the (INAUDIBLE) appeal becomes the chair of the (INAUDIBLE) appeal, was listed in Iraqi documents as obviously doing business, oil deals with Iraq, that you never had a conversation with him in 2001 of whether he was doing oil business with Iraq.

GALLOWAY: No, I'm doing better than that. I'm telling you that I knew that he was doing a vast amount of business with Iraq. Much bigger, as I said a couple of answers ago, than any oil business he did in the airport. He was the representative of some of the world's biggest companies in Iraq. He was an extremely wealthy businessman doing very extensive business in Iraq. Not only did I know that, but I told everyone about it. I emblazoned it in our literature, on our Web site, precisely so that people like you could not later credibly question my bonafides in that regard. So I did better than that. I never asked him if he was trading in oil. I knew he was a big trader with Iraq and I told everybody about it.

COLEMAN: So in 2003, when you said you didn't know whether he was doing oil deals, were you telling the truth at that time?

GALLOWAY: Yes, I was. I've never known until the "Telegraph" story appeared that he was alleged to be doing oil deals. But his oil deals are about one-tenth of the business that he did in Iraq. So I did better than telling people about his oil deals. I told him he was doing much, much more than that.

COLEMAN: So exhibit 14, which purports to be a contract with Middle East Semiconductor, Contract M12-14. Middle East Semiconductor, again, is Mr. Zureiqat's company, is that correct?

GALLOWAY: Yes, it is.

COLEMAN: So do you have any reason to believe that this document is false?

GALLOWAY: Well, the parenthesis, if the parenthesis implies, as you've been arguing all morning that it implies, that this was being signed for by Middle East advanced semiconductors in order to pass the money on to me, is false. Mr. Zureiqat and Middle East semiconductors or any other company have never given me money. And if they had, you would have it up here on a board, and in front of the committee here.

COLEMAN: I take it, Mr. Galloway, that in regard any surcharges paid to Saddam, in I think it's Footnote 89, which refers to the surcharge for the contract, focused on Miriam's Appeal, you're saying that that document, first of all, any contract between Iraq and Miriam's Appeals is false?

GALLOWAY: Well, Senator, I had gotten used to the allegation that I was taking money from Saddam Hussein. It's actually surreal to hear in this room this morning that I'm being accused of giving money to Saddam Hussein. This is utterly preposterous, utterly preposterous, that I gave $300,000 to Saddam Hussein. This is beyond the realms of the ridiculous. No. The Miriam Appeals finances have been investigated by the charity commission on the order of Lord Goldsmith. You'll recall him, Senator. He's the attorney general, probably the only lawman in the world, that thought your war with Iraq was legal, thought Britain joining your war with Iraq was legal.

He ordered the charity commission to investigation to investigate the Miriam Appeal. Using their statutory powers, they recovered all money in and all money out ever received or spent by the Miriam Appeal. They found no impropriety, and I can assure you, they found no money from an oil contract from Aredio Petroleum, none whatsoever.

COLEMAN: And the commission did not look at these documents relating to this contract with Iraq. Is that correct?

GALLOWAY: No, but they looked better than that, Senator.

COLEMAN: I'm not asking you better. I'm asking the question whether they looked at these documents.

GALLOWAY: Senator, you're not listening to what I am saying. They did better than that.

They looked at every penny in and every penny out. And they did not find, I can assure you, any entries of a donation from a company called Aredio Petroleum, or, frankly, a donation from any company other than Mr. Zureiqat's company. That's a fact.

COLEMAN: If I can get back to Mr. Zureiqat one more time. Do you recall a time when he specifically -- when you had a conversation with him about oil dealings in Iraq?

GALLOWAY: I have already answered that question. I can assure you, Mr. Zureiqat never gave me a penny from an oil deal, from a cake deal, from a bread deal, or from any deal. He donated money to our campaign, which we publicly brandished on all of our literature, along with the other donors to the campaign.

COLEMAN: Again, Mr. Galloway, a simple question. I'm looking for either a yes or no. Did you ever have a conversation with Mr. Zureiqat where he informed you that he had oil dealings with Iraq, yes or no?

GALLOWAY: Not before this "Daily Telegraph" report, no.

COLEMAN: Senator Levin.

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: Thank you.

Thank you, Mr. Galloway.

Mr. Galloway, could you take a look at the exhibit number 12...

GALLOWAY: Yes.

LEVIN: ... where your name is in parenthesis after Mr. Zureiqat's?

GALLOWAY: Before Mr. Zureiqat if I'm looking at the right exhibit. LEVIN: I'm sorry. I was going to finish my -- my question, though. My question was, where your name is in parenthesis after Mr. Zureiqat's company.

GALLOWAY: I apologize, Senator.

LEVIN: That's all right. Now, that document, assuming it's an accurate translation of the document underneath it, would you -- you're not alleging here today that the document is a forgery, I gather?

GALLOWAY: Well, I have no idea, Senator, if it's a forgery or not.

LEVIN: But you're not alleging.

GALLOWAY: I'm saying that the information insofar as it relates to me is fake.

LEVIN: I -- is wrong?

GALLOWAY: It's wrong.

LEVIN: But you're not alleging that the document...

GALLOWAY: Well, I have no way of know, Senator.

LEVIN: That's fine. So you're not alleging?

GALLOWAY: No, I have no way -- I have no way of knowing. This is the first time...

LEVIN: Is it fair to say since you don't know you're not alleging?

GALLOWAY: Well, it would have been nice to have seen it before today.

LEVIN: Is it fair to say, though, that either because you have not seen it before or because -- otherwise, you don't know. You're not alleging the documents are fake, is that fair to say?

GALLOWAY: I haven't had it in my possession long enough to form a view about that.

LEVIN: All right. Would you let the subcommittee know after you've had it in your possession long enough whether you consider the document a fake.

GALLOWAY: Yes, although there is a -- there is an academic quality about it, Senator Levin, because you have already found me guilty before you -- before you actually allowed me to come here and speak for myself.

LEVIN: Well, in order to attempt to clear your name, would you... GALLOWAY: Well, let's be clear about something.

LEVIN: Well, let me finish my question. Let me be clear about that, first of all.

Would you submit to the subcommittee after you've had a chance to review this document whether or not, in your judgment, it is a forgery? Will you do that?

GALLOWAY: Well, if you will give me the original. I mean, this is not -- presumably, you wrote this English translation.

LEVIN: Yes, and there's a copy underneath it of the...

GALLOWAY: Well, yes, there is a copy of a gray blur. If you'll give me -- if you'll give me...

LEVIN: The copy of the original.

(CROSSTALK)

GALLOWAY: (INAUDIBLE) then of course I'll...

LEVIN: That would be fine. We appreciate that.

GALLOWAY: Yes.

LEVIN: Now, at the bottom of this document, assuming -- assuming it's not a forgery for a moment, it says "surcharge." Are we together?

GALLOWAY: Yes.

LEVIN: As per the instructions of your excellency over the phone on 12/11/01 of not accepting the company's proposal unless they pay the debt incurred since phase eight. If, in fact -- if, in fact, Mr. Zureiqat's company paid a surcharge or a kickback to the Iraqi government in order to obtain...

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Democratic Senator Carl Levin is questioning George Galloway, a British member of parliament, a fierce opponent of the U.S.-led war in Iraq who just delivered a blistering statement before this Senate permanent subcommittee on investigations chaired by Republican Senator Norm Coleman. A statement completely denying any accusations that he did anything wrong in the U.N.'s oil- for-food program. But going beyond that, going on the offensive, taking on -- especially the Republican members of this committee, led by Senator Coleman.

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