Friday, June 20, 2003

Extreme right-wing newspaper The Daily Telegraph (Conrad Black, prop.) claimed to have found documents in a burned-out building in Baghdad which proved that British Labour MP George Galloway had received around £375,000 from Iraq. A similar report was made by the Christian Science Monitor, which claimed Galloway had been paid $10 million over the last ten years. Galloway has denied these allegations, and has said he will sue for libel. It is starting to look like he may soon be a very rich man. The Monitor has now had the documents it relied on tested, something they probably wish they'd done before they published their defamatory statements, and determined that the papers on which they based their allegations are almost certainly forgeries. Documents obtained from the same source used by the Monitor by the Mail on Sunday had previously been determined to be fakes. It remains to be seen how the Telegraph documents turn out. The Monitor's source was an Iraqi general named Salah Abdel Rasool. A subsquent interview with the General revealed that "The general was offering other documents alleging malfeasance on the part of a wide array of foreign public figures noted for their support of the Hussein regime." Galloway was a vocal critic of the attack on Iraq, and thus it is not much of a surprise that he has been given very rough treatment. The thugs in the American government treat any dissent as worthy of the greatest possible retaliation (look what Wellstone got!), and Blair has turned into a similar goon under their influence. While the Telegraph documents have not yet been examined, it was noted at the time how fortuitous it was that, out of a destroyed building with boxes and boxes of charred documents, just those documents implicating a critic of the attack on Iraq should miraculously fall into the hands of a reporter from an extreme right-wing newspaper. What is particularly interesting is that another document cache miraculously found a few days later, which included documents purporting to show a connection between Iraq and bin Laden (and subsequently disputed by British intelligence), appears to have been discovered by a translator working for The Toronto Star (but see the Star-less account of the matter by the Telegraph reporter, referring apparently to the same translator). The Sunday Telegraph and the Toronto Star reported on the bin Laden matter, The Daily Telegraph reported on the Galloway matter, and the San Francisco Chronicle found yet another set of documents purporting to deal with an Iraqi cover-up of its weapons program (to add to the miracle, the Telegraph had also previously found documents proving that the Russians had passed onto the Iraqis details of private conversations between Tony Blair and Silvio Berlusconi!). ABC found yet other documents in homes belonging to Gen. Taher Jaleel Ajboush, the head of Iraqi intelligence, and Odai, Saddam's son. Wouldn't you think before the Americans let all these reporters in to root around they might have attempted to secure the sensitive documents of the Iraqi intelligence service? Isn't it abundantly clear that all these materials were assembled for innocent western reporters to 'discover' and thus promote various American propaganda goals? If it had happened once you might think it was luck, but different reporters finding documents useful to the Americans over and over again in exactly the same way, 'stumbling' upon them with the help of local translators, is just too suspicious. The General peddling the Galloway documents to the Monitor seemed to have a whole set of such documents, suitable for blackening the reputation of whoever you choose. How would he know which officials would be likely victims of such treatment? The Star claimed the document it found was "left untouched by CIA operatives who had already combed the premises." My guess is that the CIA knew exactly what it left around, and probably told the translators working for gullible journalists exactly where they could find them, not to mention exactly what white-out to scrape off to find bin Laden's name. The inability of the Star and Telegraph reporters to determine who got the scoop probably relates to the fact that the same translator was selling the same story to each one. I will be surprised if the remaining Galloway documents don't also turn out to be planted forgeries.