Millions of people around the world cheered as Respect MP George Galloway denounced the war on Iraq in the US senate last week. He also took apart the senators’ allegations against him about Iraq’s oil for food programme. Ron McKay, who sat beside George Galloway throughout the hearing, writes for Socialist Worker.
As ever, George had no notes, no prepared speech to deliver to the committee, only the opening phrase which he hoped both Senator Norm Coleman and the world would recognise — the Joe McCarthy reference. “I am not, and never have been ...”, replacing “communist” with “oil trader”.
He had used another historical reference on arrival, to the first of several press scrums at the airport in Washington. “I come as the accuser, not the accused,” he said, a line from Scottish socialist John Maclean’s trial for sedition.
It was a remarkable performance covering all the bases, from Coleman’s leftist past, to the illegal war on Iraq, and the nonsense that George had traded in oil.
And — as we discovered only when we were presented with the “documents” at the hearing — they were false, or at best deeply misleading.
We were expecting to see that first oil shipment document, as Socialist Worker exposed last week, with George Galloway’s namely crudely added. But in this version his name wasn’t even on it!
This initially made it difficult to argue that documents had been tampered with. Then it dawned on us. None of these four sheets had the Iraqi government stamp — de rigueur under the regime.
All of these “documents” were typed in English, photocopied, but each one almost
totally obscured what George called the “grey smudges” behind.
What could faintly be discerned through the blur was Arabic writing. These grandly titled “exhibits” were, in fact, US translations of the obscured, unintelligible documents behind.
Not that it was made clear anywhere in the documentation that this was so.
We have demanded access to the original Arabic documents to check their veracity.
But my bet is that the “originals” will themselves be photocopies and that the source will have been close to Ahmed Chalabi, convicted conman and fraudster, former Iraqi oil minister and now back in that post courtesy of the US administration.
As most of the world now believes, and perhaps even Norm Coleman knows deep down, George did not benefit from any oil deals.
And as the more than 10,000 people who have now e-mailed or written to us have shown, this was certainly a massive blow against the Bush administration.
That will be driven home when George embarks on the lecture tour of the US which we hope can be set up for late June.