Saturday, May 21, 2005
Complete testimony of George Galloway
Testimony of Mr. George Galloway, Member of the British Parliament, before the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Permanent Subcommittee
Senators Norm Coleman and Carl Levin attending
SEN. COLEMAN: Mr. Galloway, I'm pleased to have you before the committee today.
What I'm going to do is briefly summarize the evidence before we 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 confirmed this.
I would think that you would admit that your efforts to oppose the sanction 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 21, 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 of aggression against Iraq and continue to oppose the war by economic means, which is aimed to strangle the life out of the great people of Iraq."
You then went on to say you greet the Palestinian people, you went on to note that you thought "the president would appreciate knowing that even today three years after the war I still meet with families who are calling their newborn 'son of Saddam.'"
You went on ultimately at the very end to say, "Sir, I salute your strength, your courage, your indefatigability, and I want you to know that we are with you." And I believe it was in Arabic (????), which means "Until victory, until victory, until victory in Jerusalem." And I also would note that you would say that you deeply regret those comments and that the comments were not aimed directly at Saddam but 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 were then used by Fawaz Zureikat, operating under the name of Meridian Petroleum and Middle East Advanced Semiconductor to actually lift the oil.
We note 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 in documents, that allocation holders knew that surcharges or oil allocations were paid to Saddam Hussein, and that allocation holders were aware of this and were 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 see displayed, (inaudible) Vladimir Zhirinovsky's dealing with (inaudible) in Phase 11
That chart also lists Contract N1104 with Middle East Advanced 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 crude oil sales contract N1104.
Exhibit 12. We heard testimony regarding correspondence between the executive director of SOMO to the Iraqi Oil Minister providing details of contract N1104 and listing your name in parentheses, next to Middle East Advanced Semiconductor and Fawaz Zureikat, who we know lifted the oil. Again statements of detainees, including former Vice President Ramadan, confirm that the name in parentheses--your name--is the allocation holder.
Your testimony regarding Contract N1104, which was signed on December 12, 2001, between SOMO and Fawaz Zureikat, president of Middle East Advanced Semiconductor.
Your testimony regarding SOMO commercial invoice B13201 that shows Meridian Petroleum lifted 1,014,403 barrels of Iraqi oil pursuant to SOMO crude oil sales contract N923.
Exhibit 45. We heard testimony regarding SOMO chart entitled "Crude Oil Allocation during Phase 9 Memorandum of Understanding" that indicates that contract N923 was executed between SOMO and Mr. Fawaz Zureikat (slash) George Galloway (slash) Meridian Petroleum.
Exhibit 9. We also heard testimony regarding the memo from the executive director of SOMO to the Oil Minister requesting approval of contract N923. The document includes an official Ministry of Oil stamp dated 1/15/2001 and provides details of a contract N923 signed with Meridian Petroleum Company, (parens) Fawaz Zureikat (dash) Mariam's Appeal, indicating that the allocation recipient of the contract N923 was Fawaz Zureikat - Mariam's 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 with former Iraqi officials and Iraqi documents to lay out how the Oil-for-Food program worked--how allocations were given to favored friends, how allocation holders made substantial commissions on those allocations to oil companies, what Ramadan called "compensation for support."
But another official in talking about another allocation holder said, "Of course they made a profit. That's the whole point." Surcharges and oil contracts were given back to the Saddam regime and were the responsibility of the allocation holder.
The evidence clearly indicates you as an allocation beneficiary, who transferred the allocations to Fawaz Zureikat, who became chairman of your organization Mariam's 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 help 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're 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'd ask you to rise and please raise your right hand.
SEN. COLEMAN: We'll be using a timing system today, Mr. Galloway. You have 10 minutes for an opening statement. If you need more time, we'll certainly accommodate that, and you may proceed.
[Opening statement as given by the Times Online]
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 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.
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.
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 Defense 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 Pasqua, they would have been up there in your slideshow 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's somehow been filleted 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 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. But you quote 13 words from Dahar Yassein 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 committee today because I agreed with your Mr Greenblatt [Mark Greenblatt, legal counsel on the committee].
Your Mr Greenblatt was absolutely correct. What counts is not the names on the paper, what counts is where's 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 today.
Now you refer at length to a company names in these documents as Aredio 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 Aredio Petroleum has never paid a single penny to the Mariam Appeal Campaign. Not a thin dime. I don't know who Aredio Petroleum are, but I daresay 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 were quoting against me interviewed yesterday actually is?
Now, one of the most serious of the mistakes 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 are referring to cover a different period in time from the documents covered by The Daily Telegraph which were a 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 were 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 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 neo-con websites and newspapers in which you're such a hero, senator, were all absolutely cock-a-hoop 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 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, Mail on Sunday, purchased a third set of documents which also upon 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 one 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 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 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.
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. 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.
SEN. COLEMAN: Thank you, Mr. Galloway.
Mr. Galloway, can we start by talking about Fawaz Zureikat. Do you know the individual?
GALLOWAY: I know him very well.
SEN. COLEMAN: In fact you were Best Man at his wedding?
GALLOWAY: I was.
SEN. COLEMAN: And at some point in time he became chair of Mariam's Appeals. Is that correct?
GALLOWAY: He did. Yeah.
SEN. COLEMAN: And can you tell me when that occurred?
GALLOWAY: I think in late 2000 or early 2001.
SEN. COLEMAN: Before Mr. Zureikat was chair of Mariam's Appeal, who had that position?
GALLOWAY: I was the founding chairman.
SEN. COLEMAN: Was there someone between you and ---
GALLOWAY: Mr. Hoffman (?)
SEN. COLEMAN: And do you recall when he had that position?
GALLOWAY: I don't.
SEN. COLEMAN: Mr. Zureikat was a significant contributor to Mariam's Appeals. Is that correct?
GALLOWAY: He was the second biggest contributor. The main contributor was Sheik Zayed, 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.
And both of those individuals are your friends.
SEN. COLEMAN: How much did Mr. Zureikat contribute to Mariam's Appeals?
GALLOWAY: Roughly 375,000 English pounds.
SEN. COLEMAN: About $600,000?
GALLOWAY: I don't know the conversion. But it's 375,000 Sterling.
SEN. COLEMAN: If you can, uh... By the way, Mr. Zureikat was your representative--uh, designated representative--for the activities of Mariam's Appeals. Is that correct?
GALLOWAY: For the activities of Mariam's Appeals. Yes.
SEN. COLEMAN: And when did he get that position?
GALLOWAY: I think late 2000.
SEN. COLEMAN: Late 2000. Looking at Exhibit 9--and I think you have the books in front of you--that appears to be a document from the Ministry of Oil that testimony has indicated that the signature is an accurate signature.
Do you have any reason to believe that that document is false?
GALLOWAY: Well, I have told you that I have never heard of Aredio Petroleum, and I've told you that the Mariam Appeal never received a single penny from Aredio Petroleum. So the information at the top of the page, if you've translated it accurately, is false.
SEN. COLEMAN: Have you heard of Middle East ASI company?
GALLOWAY: Yes. That's Mr. Zureikat's company.
SEN. COLEMAN: I turn to Exhibit 12.
And that purports again to be a stamp of the Ministry of Oil of Iraq and this purports to be showing the details of a contract signed with Middle East ASI company, Mr. George Galloway and Fuwaz Zureikat. So Middle East ASI is Mr. Zureikat's company?
GALLOWAY: Middle East ASI is Mr. Zureikat's company. He may well have signed an oil contract. It had nothing to do with me.
SEN. COLEMAN: He was chair of Mariam's Appeals in 2000. I take it you knew him well. Did he ever talk with you about his dealings with oil in 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 to get to 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.
SEN. COLEMAN: I'm asking you specifically, In 2001 were you aware 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.
SEN. COLEMAN: So this is somebody who was the chairman of 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 political campaigns.
SEN. COLEMAN: There's not many at that level, Mr. Galloway -
GALLOWAY: I've checked your website. 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.
SEN. COLEMAN: Certainly not at $600,000 American.
But let me ask you again, just so that the record is clear--that it's clear on the record--that you're not contesting then the validity of Document 12, Exhibit 12. You're indicating that Mr. Zureikat could have had dealings with Iraq. You're saying that at that point in time you're not aware that he had oil dealings with Iraq?
GALLOWAY: First of all, I've only seen this document today. And I'm telling you that insofar as my name is in a parenthesis the information in it is false.
I've no reason to believe that Mr. Zureikat's company didn't do that particular oil deal.
But this is your problem in this whole affair. There is nobody arguing that Mr. Zureikat's company did not do oil transactions and many other--much bigger, frankly--business contracts with Iraq. There is nobody contesting that Mr. Zureikat 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.
SEN. COLEMAN: Mr. Galloway, do you recall an interview you had with a Jeremy Paxman in April 23 of 2003,
[Addressing aide] Can we have a copy of the transcript of that?
I'd like to refresh your memory.
[To aide] Can you get a copy of that.
As we get you a copy, you were asked a question, talking about business dealings with Mr. Zureikat in Iraq. And at the least the transcript that I have--and I'd ask you to let me know if it's incorrect--your quote is, something about business in Iraq
"Well, I'm trying to reach him"--this is in 2003--"I'm trying to reach him 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 was involved in oil deals?
GALLOWAY: Well, I told you in my previous two answers--I knew that Mr. Zureikat was heavily involved in business in Iraq and elsewhere, but that it was none of my business what particular transactions or business he was involved in--any more than you ask the American and Israel Public Affairs Committee [AIPAC] when they donate money to you or pay for your trips to Israel, where they got the money from.
SEN. COLEMAN: So Mr. Galloway, you would have this committee believe that your designated representative from the Mariam's Appeal becomes the chair of the Mariam's Appeal, was listed in Iraqi documents as obviously doing business, oil deals with Iraq, that you never had a conversation with him in 2001 or 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 airports 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.
SEN. 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.
SEN. COLEMAN: So Exhibit 14, which purports to be a contract with Middle East Semiconductor, Contract M1214. Middle East Semiconductor, again, is Mr. Zureikat's company, is that correct?
GALLOWAY: Yes, it is.
SEN. 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. Zureikat 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.
SEN. COLEMAN: I take it, Mr. Galloway, that in regard to any surcharges paid to Saddam--I think it's Footnote 89, which refers to the surcharge for the contract, focused on Mariam's Appeal-- you're saying that that document, first of all, any contract between Iraq and Mariam'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.
Now. The Mariam 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. Practically 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 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. They found no impropriety. And I can assure you, they found no money from an oil contract from Aredio Petroleum--none whatsoever.
SEN. 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.--
SEN. 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 trace of a donation from a company called Aredio Petroleum, or, frankly, a donation from any company other than Mr. Zureikat's company. That's a fact.
SEN. COLEMAN: If I can get back to Mr. Zureikat 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. Zureikat 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.
SEN. COLEMAN: Again, Mr. Galloway, a simple question. I'm looking for either a yes or no. Did you ever have a conversation with Mr. Zureikat where he informed you that he had oil dealings with Iraq, yes or no?
GALLOWAY: Not before this Daily Telegraph report, no.
SEN. COLEMAN: Senator Levin.
SEN. CARL LEVIN (D): Thank you, Mr. Galloway.
Mr. Galloway, could you take a look at the Exhibit Number 12...
SEN. LEVIN: ... where your name is in parenthesis after Mr. Zureikat's?--
GALLOWAY: Before Mr. Zureikat's, if I'm looking at the right exhibit--
SEN. LEVIN: I'm sorry. I was going to finish my sentence -- my question, though. My question was, where your name is in parenthesis after Mr. Zureikat's company.
GALLOWAY: I apologize, Senator.
SEN. 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.
SEN. LEVIN: But you're not alleging.
GALLOWAY: I'm saying that the information insofar as it relates to me is fake.
SEN. LEVIN: I -- is wrong?
GALLOWAY: It's wrong.
SEN. LEVIN: But you're not alleging that the document...
GALLOWAY: Well, I have no way of knowing, Senator.
SEN. 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...
SEN. 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.
SEN. 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.
SEN. 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.
SEN. LEVIN: Well, in order to attempt to clear your name, would you...
GALLOWAY: Well, let's be clear about something.
SEN. 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.
SEN. 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 the original ...
SEN. LEVIN: The copy of the original.
GALLOWAY: Give me the original in a decipherable way, then of course I'll...
SEN. LEVIN: That would be fine. We appreciate that.
SEN. LEVIN: Now, at the bottom of this document, assuming -- assuming it's not a forgery for a moment, it says "surcharge." Are we together?
SEN. 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. Zureikat'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, as it turns out, from your own testimony, that practically everyone in the world, and especially the United States, was paying kickbacks.
SEN. LEVIN: My question... It troubles me a great deal. 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 met ask you about Mr. Zureikat's company.
If in fact Mr. Zureikat's company paid a kickback to the Iraqi government in order to obtain this allocation, would you be troubled? That's my question.
GALLOWAY: Yeah. That's a good question. And will you allow me to answer it seriously and not in a yes-or-no fashion? Because I could give you a glib--
SEN. 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, 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. Zureikat 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 beer compared to the American companies that were involved in the same thing.
SEN. LEVIN: Now my question...
GALLOWAY: That's what-- I told you what troubles me.
SEN. LEVIN: I'm not asking you-- [crosstalk]
My question... Now that you've given us your statement about your feeling about the Oil-for-Food program--My question is, Would you be troubled if you knew that Mr. Zureikat paid a kickback in order to get an allocation of an oil contract? That's a very simple question.
GALLOWAY: It's Mr. Zureikat's problem, not mine.
SEN. LEVIN: It would not trouble you?
GALLOWAY: It's Mr. Zureikat's problem, not mine.
SEN. LEVIN: And so that if a kickback, which was illegal under international--now you may 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. 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. Zureikat participated in that kickback scheme, which violated the U.N. sanc... 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--
SEN. 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 [SEN. LEVIN: I understand...] Oil-for-Food program.
SEN. LEVIN: There were a lot of things you opposed, but you don't believe should be circumvented in illegal ways. Isn't that--
GALLOWAY: But, please, Senator! You supported the illegal attack on Iraq. Don't talk to me about illegality--
SEN. LEVIN: Sorry about that. I didn't. But that's beside the point. [Crosstalk] That's beside the point. You're wrong in your--
GALLOWAY: Well, I'm collectively talking about the Senate. Not you personally.
SEN. LEVIN: Well, that's okay. Let me go back to my question. I don't want to get involved in--
GALLOWAY: Why not? You want to talk about illegality?
SEN. LEVIN: No.
GALLOWAY: You launched an illegal war, which has killed a 100,000 people. You want me to be troubled?
SEN. LEVIN: No, I want you to answer questions which are fairly put and directly in front of you. Now I'll ask you one last--two last questions. If--if--Mr. Zureikat's contribution to Mariam's Appeal came from the sale of oil--or his share of the 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--
SEN. 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 this.
Fundraising for political purposes is seldom pretty, as any American politician could testify. I took the view--I can be criticized for it, have been criticized for it--that I would fundraise 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. Zureikat which part of his profits from his entire business empire he was making donations to our--
SEN. LEVIN: That wasn't my question. My question was, Would it trouble you if you found that out?
It's okay. You're not going to answer. I want to go to my next question.
You're simply not going to answer. I will say, American politicians who find the source of money after it's given to them is troubling--they find out something they didn't know afterwards--frequently will--and hopefully, I think always--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's 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.
SEN. LEVIN: Tariq Aziz. You've indicated you, you--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.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you. I'm done. Thank you.
SEN. COLEMAN: Just one follow-up on the Tariq Aziz question. How often did you uh ... Can you describe the relation with Tariq Aziz?
SEN. COLEMAN: How often did you meet him?
GALLOWAY: Many times.
SEN. COLEMAN: Can you give an estimate of that?
GALLOWAY: No. Many times.
SEN. COLEMAN: Is it more than five?
GALLOWAY: Yes, sir.
SEN. COLEMAN: More than ten?
SEN. COLEMAN: Fifteen? Around fifteen?
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 that I was friendly with him.
SEN. COLEMAN: And you describe 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--
SEN. 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 that you'll avail yourself of this dossier that I have produced. And I am really speaking through you to Senator Levin. This is what I have said about Saddam Hussein.
SEN. COLEMAN: Well, we'll 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.
Letter to the PBS NewHour concerning George Galloway (5/24/05)
Trying to get Galloway: The Right goes gaga over website (5/27/05)