Morning Report 5/18/05
Let George Do It
Telling the U.S. Senate what millions of Americans are yearning to say about the unjustified Iraq war, British MP George Galloway came to D.C. after being named in the oil-for-food scandal and delivered a historic ass-whipping.
The BBC called it "one of the most flamboyant Senate testimonies ever."
Galloway brought up numerous topics, including the oil-for-slush scandal, which Congress has chosen to ignore.
The U.S. press—don't blame me—has practically ignored the colorful Scot who's Great Britain's most prominent war critic and who just regained a seat in Parliament.
Determinedly establishment as always, the New York Times, twitched its nose at the pungent dialogue and let a Reuters story do the work. The Washington Post's Colum Lynch described the scene this way in a story buried inside this morning's edition:
- A British lawmaker forcefully denied allegations in a Senate hearing yesterday that he received rights to purchase millions of barrels of Iraqi oil at a discount from Saddam Hussein's government, and he delivered a fiery attack on three decades of U.S. policy toward Iraq.
George Galloway, a formidable debater recently ousted from the British Labor Party after attacking Prime Minister Tony Blair for supporting the war in Iraq, used his appearance before the Senate permanent subcommittee on investigations as a forum to challenge the veracity of the Bush administration's case for going to war.
He also unleashed a personal attack against panel Chairman Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), calling his investigation the "mother of all smoke screens" designed to "divert attention from the crimes that you supported" by endorsing President Bush's decision to invade Iraq.
The BBC's Matthew Davis, familiar with the blunt style of politics practiced in every democracy but our own, put it this way:
- Far from displaying the forelock-tugging deference to which senators are accustomed, Mr. Galloway went on the attack
He rubbished committee chairman Norm Coleman's dossier of evidence and stared him in the eye.
"Now I know that standards have slipped over the last few years in Washington, but for a lawyer, you are remarkably cavalier with any idea of justice," the MP declared.
The whole room scanned Mr. Coleman's face for a reaction. The senator shifted in his seat—nervously it seemed.
It was the first time a British politician had been interrogated as a hostile witness at the U.S. Senate—but Mr. Galloway cast himself not as the accused, but the accuser.
On stage at the heart of American power, he attacked the U.S.-led war on Iraq and accused Washington of installing a "puppet" regime there.
Galloway didn't look at notes. He stared directly at Coleman and, as the Info Clearing House's tape will show you, eloquently told the Bush gang just how far it had gone agley:
- 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 other American corporations that stole not only 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 earlier 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."