The Stone City

Words Made to Last

Thursday, October 27, 2005


Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) has advanced evidence that MP "Gorgeous" George Galloway knowingly profited from misallocation of Iraqi oil under the so-called "oil-for-food" program. Christopher Hitchens summarizes the case for the prosecution.

However, there is one strong point in Mr. Galloway's defense. The testimony of Tariq Aziz, formerly Iraq's foreign minister under Saddam Hussein, cannot carry weight. Mr. Hitchens, oddly, attempt to use Mr. Aziz's lies as an indicator of his truthfulness:
I do not think—in case anyone tries such an innuendo—that there is the smallest possibility that Aziz's testimony was coerced. For one thing, he was confronted by Senate investigators who already knew a great deal of the story and who possessed authenticated documents from Iraqi ministries. For another, he continues, through his lawyers, to deny what is also certainly true, namely that he personally offered a $2 million bribe to Rolf Ekeus, then the head of the U.N. weapons inspectors.
If the case against Mr. Galloway can be prosecuted without relying on Mr. Aziz's testimony, then I would urge both the American and British governments to press on. But on this narrow point, Mr. Galloway's reaction is justified:
The evidence is statements made by people on trial for genocide and now living in the dungeons of the American occupation in Iraq.
A missed tackle on Mr. Galloway would be a debacle. Get him right.

[Update 31 October: at Crooked Timber, Daniel Davies wargames a hypothetical Galloway prosecution, showing the substantial difficulties.]