Tuesday, May 17, 2005
British MP lays down the law for US Senate
"The Scotsman launched into his opening statement with relish."
From the London Times Online, Galloway v the US Senate: transcript of statement:
George Galloway, Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, delivered this statement to US Senators today who have accused him of corruption
"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. 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.
"Now, Senator, I gave my heart and soul to oppose the policy that you promoted. 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 paid with their lives; 1600 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.
"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 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 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."
BBC video of the hearing (47min, Real, Galloway starts at 6:15); Audio excerpt at Crooks and Liars; BBC follow-up story: Explosive showdown in Senate
"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 [committee chairman Norm] 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 US Senate - but Mr Galloway cast himself not as the accused, but the accuser.
On stage at the heart of American power, he attacked the US-led war on Iraq and accused Washington of installing a "puppet" regime there.