CNN, incidentally, also televised parts of Galloway’s appearance “live”—interspersed with a story about a commercial airliner enroute from Italy to Boston’s Logan Airport, but diverted to Bangor, Maine, after the National Transportation Security Administration had determined that a “passenger on that plane [has] a name that is identical to a name on the no-fly list,” as CNN’s Kathleen Koch reported it.
During Galloway’s testimony, CNN’s studio host Wolf Blitzer and CNN’s Capitol Hill correspondent Richard Roth pretty much agreed that, as Blitzer was to put it, Galloway “delivered a blistering statement,” having “lashed out at Senator Coleman, the Bush administration for, in effect, not only getting the war wrong, but resulting in enormous casualties,” Galloway’s being the kind of “vitriol” one doesn’t “normally hear…from a witness before a Senate committee.”
Afterwards, CNN’s Roth asked Galloway what he thought his “appearance accomplished for a committee which has accused you of oil-for-food corruption?”
Galloway replied (Transcript 051702CN.V85, May 17, 2005):
Well, frankly, I wasn’t here to melt the hearts of the two members the committee that turned up for the hearing. I was speaking beyond these walls to the watching television audience at home. And I came not as the accused, but as the accuser.
So I don’t suppose I did much beyond embarrassing the Senator Coleman with the absurd thinness of what he had to put on the table. But I hope that I reached a broader public, with my broader case, against the war, against the sanctions, and against the mother of all smoke screens, which is what this Senate committee on investigations is engaged in.
FYA (“For your archives”): Below you will find an excerpt from the transcript of George Galloway’s complete May 17, 2005 appearance before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Sorry I can neither reproduce nor provide a link to the proceedings in their entirety for you here. The source is the Federal Documents Clearing House (FDCH), and quite authoritative, I can assure you. And just so that you know, I’ve taken the liberty of removing the statements of everybody but George Galloway and his two interrogators—the Republican Senator Norm Coleman and the Democratic Senator Carl Levin—from the moment at which Senator Coleman first introduced Galloway onward.
Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (Homepage), U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
Report on Oil Allocations Granted to Charles Pasqua and George Galloway, Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, U.S. Senate, May 17, 2005
“Oil For Influence: How Saddam Used Oil to Reward Politicians Under the United Nations Oil-for-Food Program,” Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, May 17, 2005. (Please note the fact that only six of the seven witness testimonies have been archived here. The one that hasn’t? George Galloway’s. As this webpage explains: “Mr Galloway did not submit a statement.”)
Respect: The Unity Coaltion (U.K. Homepage)
“British MP rebuts Iraq claims, takes on Senate,” Sue Pleming, Reuters, May 17, 2005
“State Department official to head U.N. management,” Evelyn Leopold, Reuters, May 17, 2005
“British Lawmaker Lashes out at Senators,” Ken Guggenheim, Associated Press, May 18, 2005
“British Lawmaker rips U.S. Senators,” Bob Deans, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, May 18, 2005
“Oil-for-food probes expose cultural gulfs,” Peter Grier and Faye Bowers, Christian Science Monitor, May 18, 2005
“Galloway assault on Capitol Hill,” Francis Harris, Daily Telegraph, May 18, 2005
“Galloway takes anti-war battle to US for dramatic showdown in the Senate,” Andrew Sparrow, Daily Telegraph, May 18, 2005
“Insults fly before the battle begins,” Alec Russell, Daily Telegraph, May 18, 2005
“British MP denies link to oil-for-food scheme,” Mark Turner and Edward Alden, Financial Times, May 18, 2005
“Galloway’s acerbic tongue unsettles his political inquisitors,” Mark Turner and Edward Alden, Financial Times, May 18, 2005
“Leftwing diehard with a colourful past and a knack for speaking out,” Frederick Studemann, Financial Times, May 18, 2005
“Charity regulator considers fresh probe,” Jimmy Burns, Financial Times, May 18, 2005 [$$$$$]
“Galloway testimony: ‘I am not, nor have I even been, an oil trader’,” Julian Borger, The Guardian, May 18, 2005
“No new revelations – but do not expect the controversy to go away,” Ewen MacAskill, The Guardian, May 18, 2005
“Galloway and the mother of all invective,” Oliver Burkeman, The Guardian, May 18, 2005
“Galloway tells US accusers: you have nothing on me,” Michael Settle and Louise Hancock, The Herald, May 18, 2005
“Galloway’s showdown: A bravura performance but a question remains,” Editorial, The Herald, May 18, 2005
“Oil-for-food fight,” David Ivanovich, Houston Chronicle, May 18, 2005
“Galloway Fights Corner on Accuser’s Home Patch,” Andrew Buncombe, The Independent, May 18, 2005
“Accused British Official Slams the U.S. on Iraq,” Maggie Farley and Johanna Neuman, Los Angeles Times, May 18, 2005
“Galloway vehemently denies profiting from UN Oil-for-Food program,” Stephanie Griffith, Middle East Online, May 18, 2005
“Galloway: You’ve Nothing on Me,” Chris Hughes, The Mirror, May 18, 2005
“Galloway Comes Out Fighting But the Yanks Fail To Lay A Glove on Him,” Christopher Hitchens, The Mirror, May 18, 2005
“Galloway Deplores U.S. Probe of U.N.,” Claudia Rossett, New York Sun, May 18, 2005
“British Lawmaker Scolds Senators on Iraq,” Judith Miller, New York Times, May 18, 2005
“Galloway Bluster Fails To Convince Senate,” Gethin Chamberlain, The Scotsman, May 18, 2005
“The day Garrulous George fired at the Senate with both barrels,” Ben Macintyre, The Times, May 18, 2005
“Galloway is unrepentant as he attacks US senators,” James Bone, The Times, May 18, 2005
“Briton blasts U.S. accusers,” Tim Harper, Toronto Star, May 18, 2005
“British Politician Denies Profiting from Oil-for-Food,” Yochi J. Dreazen, Wall Street Journal, May 18, 2005
“Briton Denies Having Rights to Buy Iraqi Oil,” Colum Lynch, Washington Post, May 18, 2005
“British lawmaker slams probe,” David R. Sands, Washington Times, May 18, 2005
“Who profited from $addam?” Editorial, Washington Times, May 18, 2005
“Funds for Galloway charity to be checked,” Andrew Sparrow, Daily Telegraph, May 19, 2005
“Jordanian oil trader who gave pounds-375,000 to Mariam appeal,” Michael Settle, The Herald, May 19, 2005
“Galloway: The Man Who Took America,” Rupert Cornwell, The Independent, May 19, 2005
“Just what we need – a Baathist fused with a sectarian Muslim,” Christopher Hitchens, The Independent, May 19, 2005 [$$$$$]
“Trial by Parish Council Would Be More Convincing,” Mark Steel, The Independent, May 19, 2005 [$$$$$]
“Watchdog May Ask Police To Investigate Galloway Fund,” Gethin Chamberlain, The Scotsman, May 19, 2005
“Galloway wins on points rather than knockout, says U.S.,” James Bone, The Times, May 19, 2005
“Big Day for Bush Foes,” Jefferson Morley, washingtonpost.com, May 19, 2005
“Bravo, George, You’ve Recalled A Lost Art,” Matthew Norman, The Independent, May 20, 2005 [$$$$$]
“Galloway: Is he right, or is Coleman?” Editorial, Minneapolis Star Tribune, May 20, 2005
“In the Belly of the Beast,” Scott Ritter, The Guardian, May 21, 2005
“Oil for What?” Editorial, Washington Post, May 21, 2005
FDCH Political Transcripts
May 17, 2005 Tuesday
TYPE: COMMITTEE HEARING
COMMITTEE: SENATE HOMELAND SECURITY AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE
SUBCOMMITTEE: PERMANENT INVESTIGATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE
HEADLINE: U.S. SENATOR NORM COLEMAN (R-MN) HOLDS HEARING ON U.N. OIL-FOR- FOOD PROGRAM INVESTIGATION
LOCATION: WASHINGTON, D.C.
U.S. SENATOR NORM COLEMAN (R-MN)
U.S. SENATOR CARL LEVIN (D-MI)
COLEMAN:…. Let’s call the second panel: Mr. George Galloway, member of Parliament for Bethnal Green and Bow, Great Britain.
Mr. Galloway, I’m pleased to have you before the committee today. What I’m going to do is briefly summarize the evidence before I give you a chance to give your sworn testimony.
The oil-for-food program was used to support those who were favorable to Iraq. Former Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz and Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan confirm this.
I would think that you would admit that your efforts to oppose the sanctions were well received by the regime.
I know it’s been quoted to you many, many times, but your — I would say — infamous statement to Saddam Hussein on January 21st, 1994, where you said to Saddam, “Your Excellency, Mr. President, I greet you in the name of many thousands of people in Britain who stood against the tide and opposed the war and aggression against Iraq, continue to oppose the war by economic means, which is aimed to strangle the life out of the great people of Iraq.”
COLEMAN: You then went on to say (inaudible) the Palestinian people. You went on to note that, “I thought the president would appreciate knowing that even today, three years after the war, I still meet with families who are calling their newborn sons Saddam.”
You went on, ultimately, at the very end, to say, “Sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability. And I want you to know that we are with you.” And, I believe it was in Arabic, “Hata al nasa, hata al nasa, hata al-Quds,” (ph) which means, “Until victory, until victory in Jerusalem.”
And I also would note that you have stated that you deeply regret those comments and that the comments were not aimed directly at Saddam, but they were aimed at the Iraqi people.
In the fall of 1999, you headed a two-month London-to-Baghdad bus trip to gain support for lifting the sanctions on Iraq.
We have your name on Iraqi documents — some prepared before the fall of Saddam, some after — that identify you as one of the allocation holders; that your allocations have been used by Fawaz Zuraiqat, operating under the name of Irideo (ph) Petroleum and Middle East Advance Semiconductor to actually lift the oil.
We know, too, based on the statements of former Iraqi officials as well as some documents and, in the cases of Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Alexander Voloshin, correspondence and documents that allocation holders knew that surcharges for oil allocations were paid to Saddam Hussein and that allocation holders were aware of this and responsible for the payments.
We have also heard testimony regarding several documents retrieved from the Iraqi Ministry of Oil that demonstrate how Iraq allocated oil to its friends and allies.
Exhibit 13, which you’ve seen, displayed a SOMO chart that demonstrated Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s dealing with Machinoimport in phase 11. That chart also lists contract M-1104 with Middle East Advance Semiconductor.
Footnote 93, your testimony regarding a SOMO commercial invoice dated June 27, 2002, that shows Middle East Semiconductor loaded 2,360,860 barrels of Iraqi crude oil pursuant to SOMO sales contract M-1104.
Exhibit 12, we heard testimony regarding correspondence from the executive director of SOMO to the Iraqi oil minister, providing details of contract M-1104 and listing your name in parentheses next to Middle East Advance Semiconductor and Fawaz Zuraiqat, who we know lifted the oil. Again statements of detainees, including former Vice President Ramadan, confirmed that the name in parentheses, your name, is the allocation holder.
Your testimony regarding contract M-1104, which was signed on December 12th, 2001, between SOMO and Fawaz Zuraiqat, president of Middle East Advanced Semiconductor.
Your testimony regarding SOMO commercial invoice B-13201 that show Irideo (ph) Petroleum lifted 1,014,403 barrels of Iraqi oil pursuant to SOMO crude oil sales contract M-923.
Exhibit 45, we’ve heard testimony regarding a SOMO chart entitled “Crude Oil Allocations During Phase Nine of the Memorandum of Understanding,” that indicates contract M-923 was executed between SOMO and Mr. Fawaz Zuraiqat/George Galloway/Irideo (ph) Petroleum.
Exhibit nine, we also heard testimony regarding a memo from the executive director of SOMO to the oil minister requesting approval of contract M-923.
COLEMAN: The document includes an official Ministry of Oil stamp dated 1/15/2001, and provides details of contract M-923 signed with Irideo (ph) Petroleum Company (Fawaz Zuraiqat-Miriam Appeal), indicating that the allocation recipient for contract M-923 was Fawaz Zuraiqat and Miriam Appeal.
Mr. Galloway, as I indicated in my opening statement, this is not a court of law. This committee has simply made available information obtained during the investigation from interviews of former Iraqi officials as well as Iraqi documents that will add how the oil-for- food program worked, how allocations were given to favored friends, allocation holders made substantial commissions on those allocations to oil companies, what Ramadan called compensation for support, what another official, in talking about another allocation holder said, “Of course they made a profit; that’s the whole point.”
Surcharges in oil contracts were given back to the Saddam regime, and were the responsibility of the allocation holder.
The evidence clearly identifies you as an allocation beneficiary who transferred the allocations to Fawaz Zuraiqat, who became chairman of your organization, Miriam Appeal.
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.
If you can provide any evidence that challenges the veracity of these documents or the statements of former Iraqi officials, we’d welcome that input.
Mr. Galloway, you are appearing before the subcommittee without asserting any privilege or immunity. Indeed, your appearance before the subcommittee is entirely voluntary and on your own accord. No subpoena was issued to secure your appearance.
You’re appearing before the subcommittee concerning matters that do not arise out of the performance of any of your official duties as a member of the British Parliament, but instead concern actions taken by you in your capacity as a private citizen.
Before we begin, pursuant to Rule 6, all witnesses who testify before this subcommittee are required to be sworn. At this time, I would ask you to rise and please raise your right hand.
Do you swear the testimony you’re about to give before this subcommittee is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
GALLOWAY: I do.
COLEMAN: We will be using a timing system today, Mr. Galloway. We’ve got 10 minutes for an opening statement. If you need more time, we’ll certainly accommodate that. And you may proceed.
GALLOWAY: 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 anybody on my behalf.
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.
I’m 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 having written to me or telephoned me, without any contact with 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.” And then I want to put this in the context that 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.”
GALLOWAY: As a matter of fact, I’ve 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 to 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 allow 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 defense made of his.
In the same opening paragraph, you assert that I was an outspoken supporter of the Hussein regime. This is false.
I have brought along here a dossier for all the members of your committee of statements by me as early as the 15th of March 1990, in which I condemn the Saddam Hussein dictatorship in the most withering terms: a stance I have taken since around about the time you were an anti-Vietnam war demonstrator.
I was an opponent of Saddam Hussein when British and American 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 out doing commerce.
You will see from the official parliamentary record, Hansard, from the 15th of March 1990 onwards, voluminous evidence that I have a rather better record of opposition to Saddam Hussein than you do and than any 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 if the allegation from the source was true, that I am, quote, “the owner of a company which has made substantial profits from trading in Iraqi oil.”
GALLOWAY: 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 had 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 Pasqua, 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 Duelfer inquiry, provided to him by the convicted bank robber 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 has somehow been filtered down to the names you chose to deal with in this committee.
Some of the names on that committee 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 vociferously prosecuted and which has led us to this disaster.
You quote Mr. Taha Yassin Ramadan. Well, you have something on me: I have never met Mr. Ramadan; your subcommittee apparently has.
But I do know that he is 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.
GALLOWAY: But you quote 13 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 oil 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. Your Mr. Greenblatt was absolutely correct.
What counts is not the names on the paper; what counts is where is the money, Senator? Who paid me hundreds of thousands of dollars 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 Irideo (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 Irideo (ph) Petroleum has never paid a single penny to the Mariam Appeal campaign; not a thin dime.
I don’t know who Irideo (ph) 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.
Whilst 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 former regime official you are quoting against me interviewed yesterday actually is?
GALLOWAY: Now, one of the most serious of the mistakes that you have made in this set of documents is, to be frank, such a school boy 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, whilst you are dealing with documents dating from 2001.
Senator, the Daily Telegraph’s documents date identically to the documents that you are dealing with in your report here. None of the Daily Telegraph’s documents dealt with a period of 1992, 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 1992-1993, 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 are confusing the Daily Telegraph action with the Christian Science Monitor. The Christian Science Monitor did indeed publish, on its front pages, a set of allegation against me very similar to the ones that your committee has 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 absolutely cockahoot at the publication of the Christian Science Monitor documents. They were all 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.
GALLOWAY: 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 Mail 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 Qaida.
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 are 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.
GALLOWAY: 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 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 of 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.
COLEMAN: Thank you, Mr. Galloway.
Mr. Galloway, can we start by talking about Fawaz Zuraiqat? Do you know the individual?
GALLOWAY: I know him very well.
COLEMAN: In fact, you were best man at his wedding?
GALLOWAY: I was.
COLEMAN: And, at some point in time, he became chair of Mariam Appeal, is that correct?
GALLOWAY: He did, yes.
COLEMAN: And can you tell me when that occurred?
GALLOWAY: I think in late 2000 or early 2001.
COLEMAN: Before Mr. Zuraiqat was chair of Mariam Appeal, who had that position?
GALLOWAY: I was the founding chairman.
COLEMAN: Was there somebody in between you and…
GALLOWAY: Mr. Halfert (ph).
COLEMAN: And do you recall when he had that position?
GALLOWAY: I don’t.
COLEMAN: Mr. Zuraiqat was a significant contributor to Mariam Appeal, is that correct?
GALLOWAY: He was the second biggest contributor. The main contributor was Sheik Zayid, the ruler of the United Arab Emirates, which you’ve glossed over in your report because it’s slightly embarrassing to you.
And the third major contributor was the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, which you’ve equally glossed over because it’s embarrassing to you.
COLEMAN: And how much…
GALLOWAY: Because both of those individuals are your friends.
COLEMAN: How much did Mr. Zuraiqat contribute to Mariam Appeal?
GALLOWAY: Roughly 375,000 English pounds.
COLEMAN: Is that about $600,000 American?
GALLOWAY: I don’t know the conversion, but it’s 375,000 sterling.
COLEMAN: If you can — and he was, by the way — Mr. Zuraiqat was your designated representative for the activity of Mariam Appeal, is that correct?
GALLOWAY: For the activities of the Miriam Appeal, yes.
COLEMAN: And when did he get that position?
GALLOWAY: I think late 2000.
COLEMAN: Late 2000.
Looking at exhibit nine — and I think you have the books in front of you.
COLEMAN: That appears to be a document from the Ministry of Oil. Testimony has indicated that the signature is an accurate signature.
Do you have any reason to believe that document is false?
GALLOWAY: Well, I’ve told you that I have never heard of Irideo (ph) Petroleum and I’ve told you that the Mariam Appeal never received a single penny from Irideo (ph) Petroleum. So the information at the top of the page, if you have translated that accurately, is false.
COLEMAN: Have you heard of Middle East ASI company?
GALLOWAY: Yes, that’s Mr. Zuraiqat’s company.
COLEMAN: Turn to exhibit 12.
And that purports to be, again, a stamp, a seal of the Ministry of Oil, people of Iraq. And this purports to be a — showing the details of a contract signed with Middle East ASI company, Mr. George Galloway and Fawaz Zuraiqat.
So Middle East ASI is Mr. Zuraiqat’s company?
GALLOWAY: Middle East ASI is Mr. Zuraiqat’s company. He may well have signed an oil contract. It had nothing to do with me.
COLEMAN: He was chair of Mariam’s Appeal in 2000, so I take it you knew him well. Did he ever talk to you about his dealings in oil with Iraq?
GALLOWAY: He did better than that. He talked to everybody. He talked to every English journalist that came through Baghdad who he helped, at our request, to get the interviews and get the places that they wanted and needed to go.
He was introduced to everyone as a major benefactor of the Mariam Appeal and as a businessman doing extensive business in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East.
COLEMAN: I’m asking you specifically, in 2001, were you aware that he was doing oil deals with Iraq?
GALLOWAY: I was aware that he was doing extensive business with Iraq. I did not know the details of it. It was not my business.
COLEMAN: So this is somebody who’s the chairman of your committee that you know well and you’re not able to say that he was…
GALLOWAY: Well, there’s a lot of contributors, I’ve just been checking, to your…
COLEMAN: Not many at that level, Mr. Galloway.
GALLOWAY: No, let me assure you there are. I’ve checked your Web site. There are lots of contributors to your political campaign funds, I don’t suppose you ask any of them how they made the money they give you.
COLEMAN: Certainly not at $600,000 American.
But let me again ask the question — just so the record is clear. You need to be clear on the record that you’re not contesting then the validity of exhibit 12; you’re indicating that Mr. Zuraiqat could have had dealings with Iraq. But you’re saying that at that point in time you were not aware that he had oil dealings with Iraq.
GALLOWAY: First of all, I have only seen this document today and I’m telling you that insofar as my name is in a parentheses, the information in it is false.
I have no reason to believe Mr. Zuraiqat’s company did not do that particular oil deal. But this is your problem in this whole affair: There is nobody arguing that Mr. Zuraiqat’s company did not do oil transactions and many other — much bigger, frankly — business contracts with Iraq. There’s nobody contesting that Mr. Zuraiqat made substantial donations to our campaign against sanctions and war.
My point is you have accused me personally of enriching myself, of taking money from Iraq, and that is false and unjust.
COLEMAN: Mr. Galloway, do you recall an interview you had with a Jeremy Paxman on April 23rd of 2003?
Do we have a copy of the transcript of that? I’d like to refresh your memory. Let me get a copy of that.
As we get you a copy, I’m going to ask — you were asked the question, talking about business dealings with Mr. Zuraiqat in Iraq in at least the transcript that I have, and I’d like you to let me know if it’s incorrect, your quote is — asked about business in Iraq and, quote, “Well, I’m trying to reach him” — this is in 2003 — “to ask him if he’s ever been involved in oil deals because I don’t know the answer to that.”
So in 2003 you’re saying you don’t know the answer to whether he’s involved in oil deals?
GALLOWAY: Well, I told you in my previous two answers.
I knew that Mr. Zuraiqat was heavily involved in business in Iraq and elsewhere, but that it was none of my business what particular transactions of business he was involved in; any more than you ask the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, when they donate money to you or pay for your trips to Israel, where they got the money from.
COLEMAN: So, Mr. Galloway, you would have this committee believe that your designated representative for Mariam Appeal. becomes the chair of Mariam Appeal, was listed in Iraqi documents, is obviously doing business — oil deals — with Iraq — that you never had a conversation with him in 2001 of whether he was ever doing oil business with Iraq.
GALLOWAY: No, I’m doing better than that. I’m telling 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 them he was doing much, much more than that.
COLEMAN: So exhibit 14, which purports to be a contract with Middle East Semiconductor, contract M-1214 — Middle East Semiconductor, again, is Mr. Zuraiqat’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 parentheses — if the parentheses implies, as you’ve been arguing all morning that it implies, that this was being signed for by Middle East Advance Semiconductors in order to pass the money on to me, it’s false.
Mr. Zuraiqat and Middle East Semiconductors — or any other company — have never given me any 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 to any surcharges paid to Saddam — and I think it’s footnote 89 which refers to the surcharge for the contract focused on Mariam Appeal — you’re saying that that document — first of all, any contract between Iraq and Mariam Appeal is false?
GALLOWAY: Well, Senator, I’ve 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 realm of the ridiculous.
Now, the Mariam Appeal finances have been investigated by the Charity Commission on the order of Lord Goldsmith. You’ll recall him, Senator. He’s the attorney general — practically the only law man 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 investigate the Mariam Appeal. Using their statutory powers, they recovered all money in and all money out ever received or spent by the Mariam Appeal.
GALLOWAY: They found no impropriety. And I can assure you they found no money from an oil contract from Irideo (ph) Petroleum: none whatsoever.
COLEMAN; And the commission did not look at these documents relating to this contract with Iraq, right?
GALLOWAY: No, but they looked better than that, Senator.
COLEMAN: I’m not asking you that; I’m asking the question whether they looked at these documents.
GALLOWAY: Senator, you’re not listening to what I’m 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 trace of a donation from a company called Irideo (ph) Petroleum, or, frankly, a donation from any company other than Mr. Zuraiqat’s company.
That’s a fact.
COLEMAN: If I can get back to Mr. Zuraiqat one more time, do you recall a time when he specifically — when you specifically had a conversation with him about oil dealings in Iraq?
GALLOWAY: I’ve already answered that question. I can assure you, Mr. Zuraiqat 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. Zuraiqat 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?
LEVIN: Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Galloway.
Mr. Galloway, could you take a look at exhibit number 12, where your name is in parentheses after Mr. Zuraiqat’s…
GALLOWAY: Before Mr. Zuraiqat, if I’m looking at the right exhibit.
LEVIN: I was going to finish my question. My question was, where your name is in parentheses after Mr. Zuraiqat’s company’s name.
GALLOWAY: I apologize, Senator.
LEVIN: It’s all right.
Now, that document — assuming it’s an accurate translation of the document underneath it — you’re not alleging here today that the document is a forgery, I gather?
GALLOWAY: Well, I have no idea, Senator, if that’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: Is wrong?
GALLOWAY: It’s wrong.
LEVIN: But you’re not alleging that the document…
GALLOWAY: Well, I have no way of knowing, sir.
LEVIN: That’s fine. So you’re not alleging.
GALLOWAY: No. I have no way of knowing.
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’ve not seen it before or because — otherwise you don’t know. You’re not alleging the document’s a 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…
GALLOWAY: Yes, although there is an academic quality about all, Senator Levin, because you’ve already found me guilty, before you’ve actually allowed me to come here and speak for myself.
LEVIN: Well, in order to attempt to clear your name, would you…
GALLOWAY: Let’s be clear about something…
LEVIN: No, let me finish my question. Let me be clear about that, first of all.
LEVIN: 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’ll give me the original. This is not — presumably, you wrote this English translation.
LEVIN: Yes, and there’s a copy underneath it of the…
GALLOWAY: Yes, there is a copy of a gray blur. If you’ll give me the original.
LEVIN: A copy of the original.
GALLOWAY: You’ll give me the original in a decipherable way, then, of course…
LEVIN: That’d be fine. We appreciate that.
LEVIN: Now, at the bottom of this document — assuming it’s not a forgery for a moment — it says “surcharge.”
Are we together?
LEVIN: “As per the instructions of Your Excellency over the phone on 12/11/01 of not accepting the company’s proposals unless they pay the debt incurred since phase eight.” If, in fact, Mr. Zuraiqat’s company paid a surcharge or a kickback to the Iraqi government in order to obtain an allocation of oil, would that trouble you?
GALLOWAY: Well, if it turns out from your own testimony that practically everyone in the world, and especially the United States, was paying kickbacks…
LEVIN: My question — well, it troubles me a great deal.
LEVIN: As you’ve heard from my statement today, I’m very much troubled that we have an oil company that was involved in this and we’re going to go after that oil company.
Now let me ask you — I’ve expressed my view about Bayoil, so now let me ask you about Mr. Zuraiqat’s company.
If, in fact, Mr. Zuraiqat’s company paid a kickback to the Iraqi government in order to obtain this allocation, would you be troubled? That’s my question.
GALLOWAY: It’s a good question.
And will you allow me to answer it…
LEVIN: I’d be happy to, yes.
GALLOWAY: … seriously, not in a yes-or-no fashion? Because I can’t give you a glib answer.
LEVIN: Providing you give us an answer, I’d be delighted to hear it.
GALLOWAY: Here’s my answer, and I hope it does delight you.
I opposed the oil-for-food program with all my heart, not for the reasons that you are troubled by it, but because it was a program which saw the death — I’m talking about the death now, I’m talking about a mass grave — of a million people, most of them children in Iraq.
The oil-for-food program gave 30 cents per day per Iraqi for the period of the oil-for-food program: 30 cents for all food, all medicine, all clothes, all schools, all hospitals, all public services.
I believe that the United Nations had no right to starve Iraq’s people because it had fallen out with Iraq’s dictator.
David Bonior, your former colleague, Senator, whom I admired very much, a former chief whip here on the Hill, described the sanctions policy as “infanticide masquerading as politics.”
Senator Coleman thinks that’s funny, but I think it’s the most profound description of that era that I have ever read: “infanticide masquerading as politics.”
So I opposed this program with all my heart, not because Saddam was getting kickbacks from it — and I don’t know when it’s alleged these kickbacks started — not because some individuals were getting rich doing business with Iraq under it, but because it was a murderous policy of killing huge numbers of Iraqis. That’s what troubles me. That’s what troubles me.
Now, if you’re asking me is Mr. Zuraiqat in some difficulty like all the other companies that it would appear paid kickbacks to the Iraqi regime, no doubt he is. Although it would appear he’s quite small deer compared to the American companies who were involved in the same thing.
LEVIN: Now my question.
GALLOWAY: That’s what — I told you what troubles me. And I’ve told you…
LEVIN: My question — now that you’ve given us, again, your statement about your feelings about the oil-for-food program, my question is would you be troubled if you knew that Mr. Zuraiqat paid a kickback in order to get an allocation of an oil contract?
That’s a very simple question.
GALLOWAY: It’s Mr. Zuraiqat’s problem, not mine.
LEVIN: It would not trouble you?
GALLOWAY: It’s Mr. Zuraiqat’s problem, not mine.
LEVIN: And so that if a kickback, which was illegal under international law — now, you might not agree with the U.N., but that’s the international community that you’re attacking, which is fine. You’re entitled to do that, you’re entitled, and I’ll defend your right to do it.
But you’re attacking a U.N. program, which is your right to do, which was aimed at providing humanitarian assistance to try to alleviate the problems that the sanctions provided, which is your right to do.
LEVIN: But my question, which you are so far evading, is: Would you be troubled if that U.N. oil-for-food program was being circumvented by the kind of kickbacks which were taking place and being given to Saddam Hussein in order to obtain allocations under that program, if Mr. Zuraiqat participated in that kickback scheme which violated the U.N. sanctions?
You may not have agreed with it, but it violated the program.
Would it trouble you if he violated that U.N. program in that way? That’s my question.
GALLOWAY: Senator, there are many things…
LEVIN: I know other things trouble you, but can you just give us a straightforward answer?
You’ve given us a long explanation of other things that trouble you, which is your right. Now I’m asking you whether that troubles you.
GALLOWAY: It troubles me that it might put him in difficulty. It troubles me that it might now lead to a prosecution of him. It troubles me that this will be further smoke in the smokescreen.
But I, root and branch, opposed this oil-for-food program…
LEVIN: I understand. There’s a lot of things you oppose but you don’t believe should be circumvented in illegal ways, isn’t that…
GALLOWAY: Well, please, Senator. You supported the illegal attack on Iraq. Don’t talk to me about illegality…
LEVIN: Sorry about that, I didn’t. But that’s beside the point. That’s beside the point. You’re wrong on your facts…
GALLOWAY: I’m collectively talking about the Senate; not you personally.
LEVIN: Well, that’s all OK.
GALLOWAY: If you…
LEVIN: That’s all right, let me go back to my question. I don’t want to get…
LEVIN: I don’t want to get involved in…
GALLOWAY: Why not? Do you want to talk about illegality?
GALLOWAY: You launched an illegal war which has killed 100,000 people…
LEVIN: Let’s try…
GALLOWAY: Do you want me to be troubled about…
LEVIN: No, I want you to answer questions which are fairly put and directly put to you.
Now I’ll ask you two last questions. If Mr. Zuraiqat’s contributions to Mariam Appeal came from the sale of oil or his share of a sale from oil, which he was able to obtain because he paid a kickback in violation of the U.N. program, would that contribution trouble you? That’s my question.
GALLOWAY: Well, Senator…
LEVIN: If you can’t give a short answer, just…
GALLOWAY: I’ll give as short as I can, and I appreciate your fairness in that.
Fund-raising for political purposes is seldom pretty, as any American politician could testify.
GALLOWAY: I took the view — I can be criticized for it; have been criticized for it — that I would fund-raise from the kings of Arabia, whose political systems I have opposed all my life, in order to raise funds for what I thought was an emergency facing a disaster. And I did not ask Mr. Zuraiqat which part of his profits from his entire business empire he was making to our causes from.
LEVIN: That wasn’t my question. My question was…
GALLOWAY: Well, it is…
LEVIN: No. My question is: Would it trouble you if you found that out?
LEVIN: It’s OK. You’re not going to answer, it’s clear to me. I want to go to my next question. You’re just simply not going to answer.
GALLOWAY: All right, all right.
LEVIN: I will say, American politicians who find a source of money, after it’s given to them, is troubling, when they find out something they didn’t know afterwards, frequently — well and hopefully, I think, always, but at least frequently — will return that money; will say they disagree with the source of the money.
Hopefully all of us will do that. But whether or not we all live up to that standard, you clearly do not adopt that as a standard for contributions to Mariam Appeal. You’re not going to look at the source of the money, you’re just simply going to accept the money, and you’ve made that clear.
I wanted just to ask you about Tariq Aziz.
LEVIN: You’ve indicated who you didn’t talk to and who you did talk to. Did you have conversations with Tariq Aziz about the award of oil allocations? That’s my question.
LEVIN: Thank you. I’m done.
COLEMAN: Just one follow-up on the Tariq Aziz question. How often — describe your relationship with Tariq Aziz.
COLEMAN: How often did you meet him?
GALLOWAY: Many times.
COLEMAN: Can you give an estimate to that?
GALLOWAY: No. Many times.
COLEMAN: Was it more than five?
COLEMAN: More than 10?
COLEMAN: Is it 15? Around 15?
GALLOWAY: Well, we’re getting nearer. But I haven’t counted. But many times. I’m saying to you many times. And I’m saying to you I was friendly with him.
COLEMAN: And you described him as a very dear friend.
GALLOWAY: I think you’ve quoted me as saying a “dear, dear friend.” I don’t often use the double adjective, but…
COLEMAN: I was looking into your heart on that.
GALLOWAY: But “friend” I have no problem with.
Senator, just before you go on, I do hope you’ll avail yourself of this dossier that I have produced. I’m really speaking through you to Senator Levin. This is what I’ve said about Saddam Hussein.
COLEMAN: We will enter that into the record, without objection.
I have no further questions of the witness. You’re excused, Mr. Galloway.
GALLOWAY: Thank you very much.
COLEMAN: We have a vote. The hearing will be recessed — we have one more panel — will be recessed for 20 minutes.
COLEMAN: The Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations is back in session.
COLEMAN: As I’ve indicated to the next panel, because of the fact that both Senator Levin and I have to be at our conference lunches today, because there are some very important issues that are being discussed, and we want to give this panel time, we felt that the best thing to do was to adjourn the hearing at this point.
We will have another day, we will set another time. There are some other matters and other reports that we wanted to follow up on.
This will be the first panel of that next hearing. So we’ll set a date and we’ll set a time.
And I want to apologize to the panel for the inconvenience, but there are some pressing matters that we have to attend to.
So with that, this hearing is now adjourned.