"I'm Shocked That There's Gambling Going On ..."

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

"I'm Shocked That There's Gambling Going On ..."

As Molly Ivins explains in this column, conservative members of Congress who bitched about circumvention of the Iraq oil embargo wouldn't have been very shocked if they had bothered to carefully examine the U.S.'s wink-and-nod approach to the embargo.

Ivins writes:
Those throwing conniption fits over the United Nations’ misdeeds (failure of oversight, according to the Volcker Report) might want to meditate a bit on the role of the U.S. government in all this before they further embarrass themselves denouncing perfidious foreigners.

For one thing, part of the oversight responsibility was on the United States, as a member of the 661 Committee, which monitored Iraq’s compliance with the sanctions.

The United States had the power to veto all sales of Iraqi oil and all purchases of goods bought with money from the program.

Further, The Washington Post reports, “Diplomats and oil brokers have recently said that the U.S. had long turned a blind eye to illicit shipments of Iraqi oil by its allies Jordan and Turkey. The United States acknowledged this week that it had acquiesced in the trade to ensure that crucial allies would not suffer economic hardships.”

In fact, in March 2003, the Treasury Department provided assurances that the United States would not obstruct a plan by two companies to import millions of barrels of oil from Iraq in violation of U.N. sanctions.

Smuggling oil was actually Saddam Hussein’s biggest source of income, not the kickbacks he got from oil-for-food. Ahed Okhon, a spokesman for one of the companies, claims Jordan had “blanket cover” from the U.N. sanctions.
Yes, that would be the same Jordan that President Bush has called "a valued friend and partner."

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