January 28, 2004


Maybe it really was all about oil:

Claims that dozens of politicians, including some from prominent anti-war countries such as France, had taken bribes to support Saddam Hussein are to be investigated by the Iraqi authorities. The US-backed Iraqi Governing Council decided to check after an independent Baghdad newspaper, al-Mada, published a list which it said was based on oil ministry documents.

Former French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua denies any involvement. Instapundit links to a translation of a Le Monde piece naming other accused (“George Gallaway, former Labour deputy with the Communes, appears in good place in the list”). And the UK Telegraph reports:

The 270 individuals and organisations alleged to be in [Saddam’s] pay included the sons of a serving Arab president, Arab ministers, a prominent Indonesian leader, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, the party led by the Russian nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky and even the Russian Orthodox Church.

Abdul Sahib Qotob, an under-secretary in Iraq's oil ministry, said the documents "reveal how Saddam jeopardised the oil wealth of Iraq on personalities who had supported him and turned a blind eye on the mass graves and injustice he inflicted on the sons of the Iraqi people".

A senior official at the oil ministry said last night: "This is oil money that should be used for reconstructing Iraq. We will use all means to get it back."

Read the Le Monde translation to discover who that prominent Indonesian leader is alleged to be. Also in the Le Monde report:

Among the quoted countries appear inter alia: South Africa, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Bahreïn, Bielorussia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Cyprus, Spain, Libya, Malaysia, Morocco, Nigeria, Oman, Panama, the Philippines, Qatar, Romania, Turkey, Ukraine, Yemen and Yugoslavia.

Australia? Very interesting. Earlier, AP ran this:

About 270 former Cabinet officials, legislators, political activists and journalists from 46 countries are on the list, suspected of profiting from Iraqi oil sales that Saddam had allegedly offered them in exchange for cultivating political and popular support in their countries.

Bring on the list! We wanna read the list!

Posted by Tim Blair at January 28, 2004 12:57 PM

If former President and perennial dictator fellator Jimmah Carter's drunken brudda Billa was alive, I'll bet his gas station in Plains, Georgia would've gotten a cut of the action.

After all, Billa had lobbied on behalf of Libya and Jimmah loves Saddam.

Posted by: JDB at January 28, 2004 at 01:05 PM

If this is true, its not about the oil, its about the grease.

Posted by: Full Auto at January 28, 2004 at 01:17 PM

Would we be a tad premature to imagine that a certain Pilger, J. might well make an appearance?

Posted by: Todd at January 28, 2004 at 01:18 PM

Remember this quote from INSTAPUNDIT earlier.
It comes, sad to say, from the National Post in Canada:


It was a great shame for journalists all across the country, for instance, that the Bloc Quebecois, not our so-called media, had to break the story about the revolting 40% increase in federal government spending over the past five years. There was a 90% increase in the Justice Department budget, 129% in legal services alone. What on God's green earth would they be doing with that money?

Why don't we know more about the connection between the Desmarais family, TotalFinaElf, the Bank Paribas, Jacques Chirac, and the UN's Oil for Food program? Given the relationship between the Desmarais family and Chretien, did that have anything to do with our refusal to join the war in Iraq? If this were the States, that story would be front and centre for months. Why do we not know more about the $250,000 the Canadian government gave to Human Concern International, an Ottawa-based organization headed by Ahmed Khadr who is reputed to have links with Osama bin Laden. Khadr used the money to open refugee camps in Pakistan that CSIS now says were used to aid Islamic fighters waging holy war in Afghanistan.

Let me tell you why we don't have a free press. If we did, things would change for our plushy elites pretty fast

Have we become the Benedict Arnold of the anglosphere?

Posted by: Brian J. at January 28, 2004 at 01:23 PM

"The US-backed Iraqi Governing Council decided to check after an independent Baghdad newspaper, al-Mada, published a list which it said was based on oil ministry documents."

An "independent Baghdad newspaper"! When was the last time you saw that phrase? Things are getting better and better, yes indeed.

Posted by: Lewis at January 28, 2004 at 01:50 PM

I had a bit of a problem with the translation but was the allegation from Le Monde that the current Indonesian president may have profited?

Posted by: Gilly at January 28, 2004 at 01:52 PM

Yep. Megawati is Sukarno's daughter and current Pres. of Indonesia.

Posted by: scott h. at January 28, 2004 at 02:00 PM

The my next question is, morality and honesty aside, is there any illegality? French companies trade oil with Iraq is hardly news. Indeed one quoted didn't deny it and claims it was within the bounds of the UN food for oil program - an assertion I'm not in a position to assess.

I'm much more interested in who the journalists are. Unless they are in the oil business they would have a whole lot of explaining to do.

Posted by: gilly at January 28, 2004 at 02:14 PM

I'm surprised that Cheney, Rove, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle, and Bush's names aren't getting more play in the blogosphere. To say nothing of the gigantic pay made to Halliburton and Bechtel. I mean, I thought there would be a hailstorm of...

Oh. Wait. You mean they aren't on the list?

Huh. Imagine that.

Posted by: Steve in Houston at January 28, 2004 at 02:17 PM

heh. I'll bet a beer on Margo!

Posted by: am at January 28, 2004 at 02:35 PM

I wonder what Fisk's column will say the day after he gets caught in the stampede of the Iraqis he swindled:

"I can understand why they would attack me."

Posted by: donnyc at January 28, 2004 at 02:43 PM

The Le Monde translation is so appallingly bad, it's hard to take it seriously. Must have been done by Year 10 students (public school of course).

Posted by: freddyboy at January 28, 2004 at 03:06 PM

So Iraq's oil-for-food program, managed by the UN, was for French Cuisine served at the Tour d’Argent in Paris.

Posted by: perfectsense at January 28, 2004 at 03:15 PM

Also interesting is that NIGERIA is on the list!

Yellowcake anyone????

Posted by: ordi at January 28, 2004 at 03:17 PM

freddyboy: its a automated translation by google, thats why its hard to read.

Posted by: Brett Milner at January 28, 2004 at 03:43 PM

Freddyboy -

Translation was automated so possibly missed the true nuances of the French language.

You know "We'll ignore a body for every barrel you give us."

Posted by: Peter Bismire at January 28, 2004 at 03:43 PM

I admit it guys. I was paid in oil to make posts on this board under the name "Miranda Divide".

I was also paid in lunches and EXPENSIVE WINE to post as Big Hawk.


Posted by: Quentin George at January 28, 2004 at 04:07 PM

More payouts:

Phillip Adams: plastic turkeys

Scott Ritter: nubile young girls

Robert Fisk: brutal bashings

Posted by: Quentin George at January 28, 2004 at 04:14 PM

FreddyBoy - you've had a deadset Barry with that one. Go give yourself an uppercut.

ordi - Nigeria is a different country to Niger.

Speak of trivialities and translation issues: our intellectual and moral superiors at Le Monde seemingly don't know the difference between Austria and Australia (psst...we're the ones who helped save you from the Austrian). Several other news articles quote the same list but have Austria listed instead of Australia.

We can all cross Pilger off our lists now...

Posted by: murph at January 28, 2004 at 06:34 PM

From what I can grok of the google translation ("the girl of the president indonésien Sukarno, Megawati"), the allegation may refer to a daughter of Megawati rather than Megawati herself. Mentioning her by reference to her father doesn't make sense in a newspaper list IMO.

--Peter Metcalfe

Posted by: Peter Metcalfe at January 28, 2004 at 06:58 PM


My personal French translator (my father) just called to say that the meaning was the daughter of Sukarno ie. Megawati herself. I believe the word "Putri" means "daughter of".

If that is true then Megawati can kiss her arse goodbye. The Yanks will fuck her over.

Posted by: murph at January 28, 2004 at 08:30 PM

If any Austrians are on the list, my bet would be Jorg Haider.

Posted by: Andjam at January 28, 2004 at 10:06 PM

Putri is one of the many Sanskrit words in Malay/Indonesian.
It means '(princely) daughter' , putra = '(princely) son'.

Sukarnoputri = Sukarno's daughter

You see 'putra' joined to another Sanskrit word to give 'bumiputra' (sons of the soil) which what Muslim Malays call themselves when they give themselves special rights ahead of other Malaysians.

Americans may sometimes confuse Austria and Australia.
The French do not.
The French word for Austria is "Autriche", and for Australia "Australie"
Schicklegruber was not the first Austrian to cause trouble in France. Marie-Antoinette was an Austrian.
Louis XIV's mother was Austrian, and ran the show for many years.

Posted by: May Lee at January 28, 2004 at 11:26 PM

I wonder if Michael Moore will make this the subject of his next 'documentary' film?

I mean, since he's for the 'common person' he could show how the 'common people' in Iraq suffered while various world wide 'elites' had their bank accounts filled.

Unless Bush or the US can be shown to be behind any/all payouts, I doubt it will interest him very much. People like Moore don't seem to be very interested in any 'common people', except those he views as harmed by the US.

Posted by: Chris Josephson at January 28, 2004 at 11:28 PM

Austria = Australia

Hitler = Kangaroos

Posted by: LB at January 28, 2004 at 11:47 PM

Heil Skippy!

Posted by: EvilPundit at January 29, 2004 at 12:12 AM

I wonder if Molly Ivins thinks people involved in the French "ole bidness" are evil or is it just those who are from Texas and vote for Bush?

Posted by: BC at January 29, 2004 at 01:41 AM

I like this:

Abdel Adhim Manaf, editor in chief of Sawt al-Arab newspaper, an Egyptian newspaper published in Cyprus, told AP..."Even if I had received (oil), what's the problem?" he asked. "The Iraqis are saying the Arab oil is for all Arabs. This is not a crime, this is not forbidden. I have always supported Saddam and believed in him, and I still do. I will never backtrack."

I'm sure Fiskie could say the same.

Posted by: Bruce at January 29, 2004 at 01:43 AM

The only time I got confused about Austria / Australia was when a kangaroo escaped from a zoo in Austria.

Posted by: Fred Boness at January 29, 2004 at 02:50 AM

The money sent to Nger was a mistake. It was a response to a Nigerian mail fraud scheme and Sadam got the address wrong.

Posted by: Mike O at January 29, 2004 at 03:50 AM

Blaming Australia instead of Austria is understandable; Austria has the world's best PR machine. They have convinced everybody that Beethoven was Austrian and Hitler was not.

Posted by: Dean Douthat at January 29, 2004 at 04:29 AM

Chris Josephson: I agree with you that Moore's unlikely to make such a movie.

Moore has said that most of his funding comes from outside the US. Wouldn't it be interesting if some of this money actually did wind up in Moore's hands? Of course, he'd deny that he knew about the connection.

Posted by: Jim C. at January 29, 2004 at 11:59 AM

Imagine all you like Toddy boy.
Imagination is truth here at Spleenville!!

Posted by: Sincerity Slips at January 29, 2004 at 09:19 PM

It's better than your remarks, Silly Slips, which show no evidence of any imagination whatsoever.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at January 30, 2004 at 08:38 PM