FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Galloway and the US Press

by MARIA TOMCHICK

Cowardice is the only way to describe the recent coverage of George Galloway’s hearing before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Not only did the nation’s two major dailies get many of the facts wrong, they went out of their way to paint Galloway as guilty.

I’m going to pick on the Washington Post and the New York Times. Colum Lynch, the reporter assigned by the Washington Post to cover the Senate investigations of the UN’s oil-for-food program, wrote an article on May 12 entitled “Panel Connects Oil Program to Europeans.” The article repeated charges made by the Republican majority on the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations that several European politicians, including British MP George Galloway, had accepted bribes from Saddam Hussein in the form of oil-for-food program allotments. Galloway, by the way, is a long-time, vocal critic of the sanctions against Iraq and the ensuing US/UK war–as are all of the other European politicians named by the committee, a fact that should raise any self-respecting reporter’s suspicions of a Republican witch hunt. Or a “mother of all smokescreens,” as Galloway has called the investigation–one that takes our attention off the much more serious problems being unearthed by the UN special investigator in Iraq who’s auditing how the Bush administration spent Iraqi oil-for-food program money <I>after</I> the invasion. Of course Lynch proves he has no instincts for the important story, and instead merely repeats the committee’s accusations.

Lynch then wrote a follow-up article on May 18 about Galloway’s hearing before the Senate committee, a story that was buried on page A11. Lynch goes out of his way to portray Galloway as a loose cannon, saying that he “unleashed a personal attack against panel Chairman Norm Coleman,” “delivered a fiery attack on three decades of US policy toward Iraq,” and that he “dispensed with the deference traditionally reserved for Senate leaders.” Not content with that, Lynch goes on to say that “he described himself as a ‘friend’ of former Iraqi deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz, and said that he met twice with Hussein.”

What Galloway actually said was this: “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 the sanction, 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 meeting with Saddam Hussein than your own Secretary of State for Defense made of his.”

While Lynch purposefully omits the Donald Rumsfeld reference from his article, he does include the following: “The Senate subcommittee has not presented any bank records or other documentation showing that Galloway traded in Iraqi oil or paid kickbacks to the government.” But this is in paragraph 8, exactly halfway through the article, instead of paragraph 1 or 2, where it could have been used to establish an all-important context for the Republicans’ oil-for-food circus act.

In paragraph 15 of his article (the next-to-last one), Lynch mentions in passing the most important finding of the whole oil-for-food investigation: that the Texas petroleum company Bayoil paid $37 million in kickbacks to Saddam Hussein, an enormous and direct violation of the oil-for-food program rules by a US company that dwarfs anything Galloway is charged with. But Lynch somehow forgets to mention Bayoil by name, nor does he question why Senate Republicans are trying to crucify Galloway and other anti-war politicians, instead of siccing the US Treasury Department on Bayoil.

The New York Times report is equally bad, but in a different way. Written by Judith Miller, whose reports on Saddam’s WMD capability amounted to uncritical stenography for right-wing neo-cons, the article is almost genteel in its careful phrasing. She uses flattering descriptive terms to describe Galloway, while framing her article in a way that give credence to the oil-for-food investigations. Miller variously describes Galloway as “a maverick,” “a flamboyant orator and skilled debator,” and says he “more than held his own before the committee.” But Miller also mentions the two meetings with Saddam: “He said he met with former Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz many times, but met Mr. Hussein only twice–as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had.” Aha, Rumsfeld mentioned at last! But Miller makes no mention of what Rumsfeld did with his time versus what Galloway did with his.

According to Miller, “the committee has produced no documents that show that Mr. Galloway or his charity actually received money.” You can almost hear the tea spoon clink gently against the saucer. Where does this little bon mot appear? It was the last sentence of paragraph 14 in an 18-paragraph article. Of course, Miller makes no mention at all of Bayoil. That would be impolite.

As usual, if the US public wants the truth, we have to go to the original sources, in this case the transcript of Galloway’s statement. Interestingly, the British newspapers were quick to offer up the transcript, while US papers decided it wasn’t newsworthy. Kudos belong to the alternative press in the US, which widely reprinted Galloway’s statement. You can find it at here.

Articles cited in this analysis:

“Panel Connects Oil Program To Europeans,” Colum Lynch, Washington Post, 5/12/05, A16

“Briton Denies Having Rights to Buy Iraqi Oil,” Colum Lynch, Washington Post, 5/18/05, A11

British Lawmaker Scolds Senators on Iraq,” Judith Miller, New York Times, 5/18/05.

MARIA TOMCHICK is a co-editor and contributing writer for Eat The State!, a biweekly anti-authoritarian newspaper of political opinion, research, and humor, based in Seattle, Washington. She can be reached at: tomchick@drizzle.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:
May 26, 2016
Paul Craig Roberts
The Looting Stage of Capitalism: Germany’s Assault on the IMF
Pepe Escobar
Hillary Clinton: A Major Gold-Digging Liability
Sam Pizzigati
America’s Cosmic Tax Gap
Ramzy Baroud
Time to End the ‘Hasbara’: Palestinian Media and the Search for a Common Story
José L. Flores
Wall Street’s New Man in Brazil: The Forces Behind Dilma Rousseff’s Impeachment
Patrick Cockburn
The Battle of Fallujah: ISIS Unleashes Its Death Squads
John Feffer
The Coming Drone Blowback
Alex Ray
The Death Toll in Syria: What Do the Numbers Really Say?
Richard Pithouse
We Shall be the Prey and the Vulture
Binoy Kampmark
Trump and the Polls of Loathing
Manuel E. Yepe
A Cruise Ship Without Tourists Arrives in Havana
Jack Rasmus
Greek Debt Negotiations: Will the IMF Exit the Troika?
Ajamu Nangwaya
Pan-Africanism, Feminism and Finding Missing Pan-Africanist Women
Howard Lisnoff
Israel, a Palestinian State and Anti-Semitism
May 25, 2016
Eric Draitser
Obama in Hiroshima: A Case Study in Hypocrisy
Ryan Mallett-Outtrim
Does Venezuela’s Crisis Prove Socialism Doesn’t Work?
Dan Arel
The Socialist Revolution Beyond Sanders and the Democratic Party
Marc Estrin
Cocky-Doody Politics and World Affairs
Sam Husseini
Layers of Islamophobia: Do Liberals Care That Hillary Returned “Muslim Money”?
Susan Babbitt
Invisible in Life, Invisible in Death: How Information Becomes Useless
Mel Gurtov
Hillary’s Cowgirl Diplomacy?
Kathy Kelly
Hammering for Peace
Dick Reavis
The Impeachment of Donald Trump
Wahid Azal
Behind the Politics of a Current Brouhaha in Iran: an Ex-President Ayatollah’s Daughter and the Baha’is
Jesse Jackson
Obama Must Recommit to Eliminating Nuclear Arms
Colin Todhunter
From the Green Revolution to GMOs: Living in the Shadow of Global Agribusiness
Binoy Kampmark
Turkey as Terror: the Role of Ankara in the Brexit Referendum
Dave Lindorff
72-Year-Old Fringe Left Candidate Wins Presidency in Austrian Run-Off Election
May 24, 2016
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
The Financial Invasion of Greece
Jonathan Cook
Religious Zealots Ready for Takeover of Israeli Army
Ted Rall
Why I Am #NeverHillary
Mari Jo Buhle – Paul Buhle
Television Meets History
Robert Hunziker
Troika Heat-Seeking Missile Destroys Greece
Judy Gumbo
May Day Road Trip: 1968 – 2016
Colin Todhunter
Cheerleader for US Aggression, Pushing the World to the Nuclear Brink
Jeremy Brecher
This is What Insurgency Looks Like
Jonathan Latham
Unsafe at Any Dose: Chemical Safety Failures from DDT to Glyphosate to BPA
Binoy Kampmark
Suing Russia: Litigating over MH17
Dave Lindorff
Europe, the US and the Politics of Pissing and Being Pissed
Matt Peppe
Cashing In at the Race Track While Facing Charges of “Abusive” Lending Practices
Gilbert Mercier
If Bernie Sanders Is Real, He Will Run as an Independent
Peter Bohmer
A Year Later! The Struggle for Justice Continues!
Dave Welsh
Police Chief Fired in Victory for the Frisco 500
May 23, 2016
Conn Hallinan
European Union: a House Divided
Paul Buhle
Labor’s Sell-Out and the Sanders Campaign
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail