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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Some questions about Oil-for-Food

While the oil-for-food scandal continues to gather victims in Australia and the mainstream media challenges the Howard government, numerous questions remain. Not least is wider investigation of Western complicity in the oil-for-food scandal. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died as a direct result of UN-led sanctions. Denis Halliday, the UN's humanitarian coordinator in Iraq in 1996, has said the following:

"Washington, and to a lesser extent London, have deliberately played games through the Sanctions Committee with this programme for years - it's a deliberate ploy...That's why I've been using the word 'genocide', because this is a deliberate policy to destroy the people of Iraq. I'm afraid I have no other view at this late stage."

Halliday later resigned from his post in disgust. Hans von Sponeck, Halliday's successor as UN humanitarian coordinator, also resigned for similar reasons. The pair wrote in the Guardian in 2001:

"The death of some 5-6,000 children a month is mostly due to contaminated water, lack of medicines and malnutrition. The US and UK governments' delayed clearance of equipment and materials is responsible for this tragedy, not Baghdad".

The West, not Saddam, was principally responsible for the human calamity, but such truths have been largely buried in the Western media. Australia may have only played a relatively minor role in the scandal, but was clearly complicit, with the US and UK, in punishing the Iraqi people. No such questions have been placed at the feet of John Howard or his government during recent times. The media prefers to talk merely of corruption, rather than dead Iraqi men, women and children.

Many more questions remain about the current AWB scandal. Weren't the best and brightest of Australia's intelligence agencies tasked to watch for and prevent funds being secretly sent to Iraq to fund the heinous Hussein regime? That's quite an "intelligence failure". And, as Iraq was then "believed" to be supporting Al Qaeda, did no-one think to try to stop the cash being handed over?

Many sycophant terrorologists say that Al Qaeda has provided support to Jemah Islamiyah. Does this not allow under the Howard government's gaze for AWB funds to have travelled to Saddam then to Al Qaeda then to JI then to Bali to kill Australian tourists?

Where was ASIO, and in Iraq, also ASIS? Did they report back what they found? How was their advice handled by the government? If the intelligence agencies' prime loyalty is for the Australian public, not the government of the day, why did not one of them think to leak these matters?

Didn't the AFP ever consider telling Iraqi police what was going on so that they could make some headline-grabbing arrests at the airport as the cash was being smuggled in?

And remember that ASIS informed the US that an Australian company was selling aluminium tubes to Iraq in 2003, ensuring they were interdicted enroute in Jordan. So why did ASIS not detect and stop the 300 million getting to Saddam?

This raises a matter which could be at the stinking heart of this scandal. Ask this question - if the intelligence agencies were so politicised in the run up to the Iraq war, were they incorporated into the Australian effort to use bribes to sell wheat to Iraq? We know that ASIS is regularly involved in "backing" Australian trade efforts overseas. Could the very large ASIS station at the Australian embassy have been involved? Where any ASIS agents embedded inside AWB?

Is Australia going to call upon its Anglo-Saxon blood ties to the US intelligence agencies to help Howard get out of this one?

And if big bags of US cash were being transferred around by AWB, did any of it get diverted into other projects? Australia's own "IranContragate"?

(Thanks to a fellow journalist for thoughts on this story.)


Blogger Progressive Atheist said...

What is the penalty for treason in this country?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006 5:18:00 pm  
Blogger JohD said...

Howard seriously believed that Saddam Hussien was providing financial support for al Queeda. He claims he was deceived by faulty intelligence, but he genuinely believed that at the time. He also believed that al-Queeda was providing logistical and financial support for Jemah Islamiyah. If it is shown that Howard knew about these payments, then we have to conclude that Howard knowingly contributed funds to terrorist to kill Australians.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006 8:30:00 pm  
Blogger orang said...

C'mon now. Nothing will come out of this. The Coleman guy in the US, after ensuring his wheat groweres have got and will keep all the business, will be placated by big W (good friend of Mr Howard don't you know) and will back off the hard line stance. Which will show to us that despite the indiscretions of a few in the rough and tumble world of international trade all's well in the halls of power and we are all right Jack.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006 10:52:00 pm  
Blogger Wombat said...

Good point Orang,

Th efact that is has gone so far is probably a phoney sideshow to convince the public that Coleman and his freak show are determined to see that justice is done.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006 12:02:00 am  
Blogger Progressive Atheist said...

Former Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) officer Warren Reid, who worked for 10 years with ASIS in Asia and the Middle East, said it was impossible for the federal government not to have known kickbacks were being paid by AWB to Saddam Hussein's regime.


Mr Reid told ABC radio:

It's absolutely impossible that they didn't know. In fact, if you look at the core part of the governmental system in Canberra, Foreign Affairs, Defence, even eavesdropping, the whole intelligence apparatus, that's geared to knowing these things. And if they didn't know, they weren't charged specifically by ministers in the government with knowing, people like (then Trade Minister) Mark Vaile, the Prime Minister (John Howard) and (Foreign Minister) Alexander Downer, then they should be shot at dawn.

I guess that answers the question I asked at the top. Heh heh.

Saturday, February 11, 2006 11:55:00 am  

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