Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Galloway reply to Greg Palast

Reply to Greg Palast
George Galloway
Until a couple of days ago I hadn't heard of Greg
Palast in years, the man who claims to have been
pursuing me with questions for two months. He has
never phoned, written, emailed or made any other
contact with me, which is curiously reminiscent
of the behavior of the US Senate committee.
Having now forced myself to look at his
pernicious writing, it seems like the deranged
ramblings you might expect to find pushed out
from under the door of a locked ward. He claims
to be a journalist. He clearly doesn't get much

Palast conflates meetings, truths and
half-truths, statements taken out of context to
produce a toxic smear which would be actionable
in the country he claims to work in, my country.
How many times do I have to respond to the
ravings of guttersnipes? I met Saddam twice, the
same number of times as Donald Rumsfeld. The
difference is that I wasn't trying to sell him
weapons and guidance systems. The first, and
infamous time, my words were taken out of
context. The second, where Saddam revealed his
favorite confectionery, I was trying to persuade
him to let the weapons' inspectors back in. A
vain mission, of course, as the US and UK had
already decided to illegally go to war whatever
he did.

The Mariam Appeal, which Palast drags in to
allege I benefited financially from its work, was
not a charity. It was a political campaign. Its
primary function was not to provide medicines for
Iraqi children, although we did, but to highlight
the political conditions which were killing them.
Sanctions! The largest donor was the ruler of the
UAE (who gave approximately £500,000), followed
by Fawaz Zureikat's £375,000, and then the now
king of Saudi Arabia (a regime I loath) with
£150,000. The donations of these three
represented 99% of the campaign's total income.
These donors were prominently identified at the
time, there was no attempt to hide them, as this
palooka claims. None of them have complained the
money was ill-spent. Palast might take the view
that finance should not be taken from such
sources. Sorry, but needs must.
Among the works undertaken by the appeal was a
daily newsletter on sanctions, a
sanctions-busting flight into Baghdad, the Big
Ben to Baghdad trip in a red London bus,
countless meetings and conferences, posters and
flyers, the projection of an anti-war slogan on
the House of Commons, the first time that had
ever been done -- and the facilitating of trips
to Iraq by dozens of journalists, many of whom
sat in on my meetings with Tariq Aziz. And
virtually all of whom were conducted around
Baghdad by Fawaz Zureikat, openly introduced as
the Mariam Appeal's chairman, as well as a
businessman trading with Iraq. We brought Mariam
Hamza to Britain for treatment -- immodestly, but
factually, I claim that we saved her life --
where she remained for half a year, sent back
cured. I could go on and on but my enemies would
surely claim I was blowing my own trumpet.
But what I will not tolerate -- and will sue in
any territory where it is possible to do so -- is
the lie that I personally benefited financially
from the campaign. The Charity Commission inquiry
Palast refers to was occasioned by a referral
from Tony Blair's Attorney General. The
commission are in possession of every receipt of
funds and every cheque issues or bank transfer
ever made. They satisfied that there was no
malfeasance and closed the case without further
action, no doubt to the disappointment of Mr
Blair's Attorney General. Charities in Britain
cannot campaign politically, which was the prime
function of the appeal and in their judgment the
commission said that the operation should have
been split in two, one arm of which, the one
which provided the physical aid, should have
registered as a charity. Well, sorry, but that's

The stumblebum then drags in Hitchens -- perhaps
it's two bums finding mutual support -- a man I
recently debated in New York. For what seems like
the ten-thousandth time let me try to finally
nail the canard that I benefited through the
oil-for-food programme, an allegation at the time
of writing which has netted me at least $4
million in libel damages and costs. Of course,
when I talked with Tariq Aziz, I talked about the
programme, but only in respect of the effects it
was having on Iraq. I did not request or receive
oil vouchers. I did not benefit financially. Not
by one thin dime! I said voluntarily and on pain
of prosecution under oath to the US Senate
committee -- another body which doesn't let the
facts get in the way of a good smear -- and I say
it again. If I had been guilty of what Palast
alleges I'd be sitting not in the House of
Commons but a prison cell! Let that be an end to
it because I'm sure the public is even more tired
and bemused than I am.

Crawl back under your rock, Mr Palast!

George Galloway MP


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27 September 2005 at 11:11  
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