19 May 2005

Where there's smoke, there's, well, more smoke

Galloway takes on US oil accusers :
'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 sanctions, 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 meetings with Saddam Hussein than your own Secretary of State for Defence made of his.

'I was an opponent of Saddam Hussein when British and Americans governments and businessmen were selling him guns and gas. I used to demonstrate outside the Iraqi embassy when British and American officials were going in and doing commerce.'

'You will see from the official parliamentary record, Hansard, from the 15th March 1990 onwards, voluminous evidence that I have a rather better record of opposition to Saddam Hussein than you do and than any other member of the British or American governments do.

I suspect quite a lot of time will pass before another British MP is called before a US senate committee. Galloway's opinions are not new, they're a matter of record. Galloway's successful action against the London Telegraph for the same allegations that Republican Norm Coleman tried to revive yesterday is equally a matter of record. It would accord precisely with Galloway's record if Coleman were to find himself defending a libel action.

What's amazing is the way the US media and the blogosphere have recited to a little plain speaking. Westminster systems, by their nature, use more cmbative rheotric. Galloway's impact probably says more about the regrettable rhetorical defrence that prevails in Washington than anything else. Perhaps the US Democrats should study the form, if not the content, of galloway's fulmination. It would have been nice if Galloway had done enough research to make himself aware that Carl Levin the Democrat who attended the eharing, opposed the war. The sleaziest reaction came from Coleman himself:

Coleman said he did not believe Galloway came across as a "credible witness" and warned that his staff would examine his testimony to determine whether he perjured himself. "If in fact he lied to this committee, there will have to be consequences," Coleman told reporters after the hearing.

MPs travel on diplomatic passports. Even the Blair government would have difficulty accepting prosecution of an elected MP for things said in Washington. But there will, f course, be no prosecution. Galloway charged Coleman with the 'mother of all smokescreens'. Coleman answered by blowing smoke.

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