Tuesday, October 25, 2005

British MP and Saddam apologist George Galloway appears to be caught in a lie to Congress about secret oil deals with the former dictatorial regime. The latest bank records and interviews from top Ba’athist officials are the strongest evidence yet that Mr. Galloway profited personally from the U.N. Oil-for-Food scandal. They all but confirm Mr. Galloway knowingly lied to Congress about his dealings in May.

As Sen. Norm Coleman, Minnesota Republican, announced Monday, three top Hussein regime officials, including Tariq Aziz, Saddam’s deputy prime minister, told investigators that Mr. Galloway personally solicited and received nearly $600,000 from the regime in eight disbursements channelled through an intermediary between 1999 and 2003. The bank records back this up. In 2000, Mr. Galloway’s wife, Amineh Abu-Zayyad, received $150,000 courtesy of Fawaz Zureikat, a Jordanian businessman and Mr. Galloway’s acknolwedged representative in Iraq. Mr. Zureikat gave another $446,000 to the Mariam Appeal, Mr. Galloway’s charity, almost immediately after deals he brokered under the Oil-for-Food program. The money paid Mr. Galloway for the rights to 23 million barrels of oil that he was awarded by the regime because he was “a friend of Iraq” and “needed to be compensated for his support,” according to Taha Yasin Ramadan, Saddam’s vice president.

All this comes after Mr. Galloway told the Senate permanent subcommittee on investigations in May that “I have never seen a barrel of oil, owned one, bought one or sold one — and neither has anyone on my behalf.”

Mr. Galloway tried to make a circus of the May hearings, and now apparently would like to make one in court, too. Besides denying the latest round of charges, yesterday he openly dared Mr. Coleman to pursue perjury charges. “I am demanding prosecution, I am begging for prosecution,” he said.

Should Mr. Coleman pursue legal redress? We think so.

Let Mr. Galloway have his political theater, and let him have his martyrdom in the eyes of the Saddam-sympathizing left. Mr. Galloway committed perjury, made false statements under oath and obstructed congressional proceedings. It would be easy to forget, but he also profited personally from a regime that terrorized its people and its neighbors for decades. Mr. Coleman should see that the book is thrown at Mr. Galloway.

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