The UnAustralian

Sunday, May 02, 2004
 
Time For The Australian To Put Up

On the 28th April, The Australian published this opinion piece by James Morrow. Morrow writes:

The scheme was elegant in its simplicity, but huge in scale. From 1996 to 2003, Iraq's government was allowed to sell some of its oil through a UN program and, theoretically, buy food and medicine for its citizens.

But any humanitarian goods that were purchased with this money were doled out to Baath party supporters, while the rest of the cash went to building Saddam's lavish palaces and maintaining his terrifying security apparatus.

Far worse was the abuse of oil given to "non-end users" (that is, not sold to refineries and petroleum companies). Documents found in Iraq's old ministry of oil reveal that hundreds of prominent individuals received vouchers to buy Iraqi oil at cut-rate prices and sell it on the open market -- at tremendous, often seven-figure, profits.

Those named include not just Sevan but a vast array of Russian politicians, close friends of French President Jacques Chirac (including France's former minister of the interior), British Labour MP George Galloway, former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter and, closer to home, Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri.


One of those named, Scott Ritter, has written to the Australian to claim that this is false (at least in his case).

Because tomorrow Ritter's letter will be lost from the internet, I'm quoting it all for entirety.

I AM writing in response to an article by James Morrow (Opinion, 28/4). Morrow notes that "Documents found in Iraq's old ministry of oil reveal that hundreds of prominent individuals received vouchers to buy Iraqi oil at cut-rate prices and sell it on the open market - at tremendous, often seven-figure, profits".
He goes on to state that those named include "a vast array of Russian politicians, close friends of French President Jacques Chirac (including France's former minister of the interior), British Labour MP George Galloway, former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter and, closer to home, Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri".

I cannot vouch for anyone else, but I can categorically state that my name has never appeared on any document in Iraq stating that I have been the recipient of such vouchers.

I have never received any money from the Iraqi government, either through the oil for food voucher program or any other channel, and to suggest (or in the case of Mr Morrow, state) otherwise is not only wrong, but libellous.
Scott Ritter
Former UN weapons inspector
Delmar, US


So this seems like a good time for the Australia to publish either a) evidence that Ritter did receive a voucher from the old Iraqi government, or b) a groveling please don't sue us correction.

| 3:58 PM