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May 22, 2005 - The Scots are known for being blunt...













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Not everyone in the UK is like Tony Blair.

British MP George Galloway testified last Tuesday to a senate committee in Washington about the oil-for-food business.

Best let the BBC, with their British spelling and punctuation, explain the event:

 

Galloway takes on US oil accusers
Tuesday, 17 May, 2005, 17:57 GMT 18:57 UK

 

British MP George Galloway has told US senators who accused him of profiting from Iraq oil dealings their claims were the "mother of all smokescreens".

In a combative performance before a Senate committee, the Respect Coalition MP accused the US lawmakers of being "cavalier" with justice.

He said: "I am not now nor have I ever been an oil trader and neither has anyone on my behalf."

The senators say he was given credits to buy Iraqi oil by Saddam Hussein.

Mr Galloway travelled to Washington to clear his name before the Senate sub-committee on investigations.

He claims the evidence against him is false. He says forged documents had been used to make claims about him before. ...

 

And Oliver Burkeman in the fully left-side UK Guardian the next morning gives us this: Galloway and the mother of all invective

 

Whatever else you made of him, when it came to delivering sustained barrages of political invective, you had to salute his indefatigability.

George Galloway stormed up to Capitol Hill yesterday morning for the confrontation of his career, firing scatter-shot insults at the senators who had accused him of profiting illegally from Iraqi oil sales.

… Before the hearing began, the MP for Bethnal Green and Bow even had some scorn left over to bestow generously upon the pro-war writer Christopher Hitchens. "You're a drink-soaked former-Trotskyist popinjay," Mr Galloway informed him. "Your hands are shaking. You badly need another drink," he added later, ignoring Mr Hitchens's questions and staring intently ahead. Eventually Mr Hitchens gave up. "You're a real thug, aren't you?" he hissed, stalking away.

It was a hint of what was to come: not so much political theatre as political bloodsports - and with the senators, at least, it was Mr Galloway who emerged with the flesh between his teeth. ...

 

Ah, politics is often so dull.  This was good.

As for Christopher Hitchens, he’s the hard-drinking acerbic defender of the war(s) and reluctant apologist for George Bush (we need to show that middle-easterners a thing or two and Bush is just the right guy to do that) – who used to be of the left – who could be called mordantly insightful in that British way, or maybe just grumpy.  He has been mentioned in these pages before - here taking on the dead Pope and the then brain-dead and later completely-dead Terri Schiavo, and here fulminating about the Abu Ghraib photographs, and here ragging on Michael Moore and his film, and here dismayed about the new evangelical Christian Republican Party.  You get the idea.

But what did George Galloway say?  Check out this excerpt from the CNN transcript –

 

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 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.

 

I believe you might call that unloading with both barrels.  The man is blunt – but if you have watched the open question sessions from the British parliament on C-Span one or twice each week, you realize political discourse in the UK is a bit more direct than it is here.  Blair goes before parliament each week and answers direct and often hostile questions directly, without notes.  He has to think on his feet and say what he means.  There’s no hiding, and it gets lively.

George Galloway comes from that tradition.  One suspects our senators know that, but were still stunned, and looking for their own feet.  Galloway wasn’t playing by our rules.

The Times of London reports Galloway saying this

 

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. …

You quote Mr Dahar Yassein Ramadan. Well, you have something on me, I've never met Mr Dahar Yassein Ramadan. Your sub-committee apparently has. But I do know that he's your prisoner, I believe he's in Abu Ghraib prison. I believe he is 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 Airbase, 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.

 

Our senators looked bewildered.

George Galloway wasn’t bewildered at all. According to The Scotsman (UK) –

 

The Respect MP 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 said.

Making reference to a 1955 heavyweight boxing match in which the British champion lost to the US, he added: “It was Rocky Marciano versus Don Cockell, but this time the British guy won.”

… “They didn’t have a leg to stand on,” he said. “All they had was my name on a bit of paper and that just isn’t good enough.”

 

He knocked them for six?  Not a term much used on this side of the pond.

Well, this whole business was reported widely, but there hasn’t been much comment.

Our high-powered Wall Street attorney, from his office high above lower Manhattan, asks – “Where is the reaction? I want to know how the Senators responded.”

They didn’t respond much.

Our friend, the systems guy in London, Ontario, commented – “I'd be willing to bet it wasn't a standing ovation. But if they're towin’ dubbya's line, they'll just throw out some standard catch phrases about freedom and democracy. And lots of ‘ em. If ya can't hit back with the truth? Bury ‘em in BS. And while I'm in a wagering mood, I'd also be willing to bet that a few of those paragraphs – two and three above especially - do not get any air time on your average TV news coverage. Blunt indeed!”

No, it was covered.  It was just that no one knew what to say, and that could be because we are just not used to straight talk.

There was this

 

Not since attorney Joseph Welch confronted the soon-to-fall Anti-Communist Crusader/Ideologue, Joseph McCarthy in 1954 with his now famous "Have you no sense of decency, sir?" testimony can we recall such a direct shaming of a Congressional Committee as that which took place earlier today in a Senate Subcommittee Hearing on the trumped-up U.N. Oil-for-Food "Scandal" which Bush Lackeys and Fox & Friends have been flogging ever since it became apparent that there were no WMD in Iraq, and thus, no justification for this trumped-up war.

Also mirroring McCarthy's shameless use of the Senate for his Anti-Communist witch hunts is the cavalier way by which the NeoCons and their sycophantic supporters are all-too-willing to destroy innocent lives with the stroke of an irresponsible pen or an out-and-out fallacious public statement in complete disregard for those whose lives and reputations they smearing and defaming under false pretenses.

The hearings today, by the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs investigation subcommittee, shamefully led by Democrat-turned-Republican Senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota, turned into a stunning embarrassment when British MP George Galloway gave his remarkable rebuttal to the unsubstantiated charges made against him by the Committee "investigating" the Oil-for-Food "scandal" which Galloway appropriately described as "the mother of all smoke-screens".

 

Well, I’m not sure stunning embarrassment is what I saw – but that is pretty close to what any of us watching this business saw.  Close enough.

Somehow this is bringing back old times.  Remember this?

 

And you wonder why your American image abroad is so bankrupt.

Notice I said, "Your American image abroad is so bankrupt."

… This is true - everybody can see you today. You make yourself look sick in the sight of the world trying to fool people that you were at least once wise with your trickery. But today your bag of tricks has absolutely run out. The whole world can see what you're doing.

 

That was Malcolm X - "Not just an American problem, but a world problem" - February 16, 1965, Corn Hill Methodist Church, Rochester, NY – from Malcom X: The Last Speeches, edited by Bruce Perry.

Here we go again.  That Malcom X bit was pointed to by A. J. Benjamin over at Left End of the Dial who added this, given what is being exposed now, and with all the crap with the recent Newsweek scandal –

 

Yes, lives have been lost. Lives have also been lost in those American-run gulags. A number of people imprisoned in our gulags - and often imprisoned wrongfully in the first place - have been murdered by their captors. I'd say it's completely understandable that some folks would be a bit upset about some of our actions - or many of our actions. We as a people need to take a good hard look at ourselves and the actions that are taken by our government in our names. Until we do, and until we make a reasonable effort to right our wrongs, we're only seeing the tip of the iceberg when it comes to violent protests around the globe.

 

Protests around the world, and this MP from Scotland calling the pretentious, smug senators out… no one loves us.

Oh, and on that topic here’s another appropriate flash from the past.

Rick, The News Guy in Atlanta, often cited in these pages, grew up out here in Pacific Palisades, a few miles west of Hollywood.  His next door neighbor and playmate was Randy Newman.  In the seventies, on Newman’s breakthrough album Sail Away, you’d find a song called “Political Science” – with these lyrics

 

No one likes us
I don't know why.
We may not be perfect
But heaven knows we try.
But all around even our old friends put us down.
Let's drop the big one and see what happens.

We give them money
But are they grateful?
No they're spiteful
And they're hateful.
They don't respect us so let's surprise them;
We'll drop the big one and pulverize them.

Now Asia's crowded
And Europe's too old.
Africa's far too hot,
And Canada's too cold.
And South America stole our name.
Let's drop the big one; there'll be no one left to blame us.

Bridge:
We'll save Australia;
Don't wanna hurt no kangaroo.
We'll build an all-American amusement park there;
They've got surfing, too.

Well, boom goes London,
And boom Paris.
More room for you
And more room for me.
And every city the whole world round
Will just be another American town.
Oh, how peaceful it'll be;
We'll set everybody free;
You'll have Japanese kimonos, baby,
There'll be Italian shoes for me.
They all hate us anyhow,
So let's drop the big one now.
Let's drop the big one now.

 

Listen here if you have a high-speed connection - and the FLASH animation is cool – Bush sings it.

We are living in interesting times, once again.































 
 
 
 

Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
 
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