Et Tu, Greg Palast?
The Slime Artist
Et Tu, Greg Palast?
By 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 work.
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 poppycock.
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, member of Parliament from Bethnal Green, is the author of Mr. Galloway Goes to Washington: The Brit Who Set Congress Straight About Iraq.
This next piece is from http://leninology.blogspot.com/2005/09/palasts-palimpsest.html
Greg Palast is, without a doubt, a brilliant investigative journalist. The skill with which he has exposed corporate malfeasance, Florida vote-rigging and New Labour's sucking up to the rich has been a joy to read. Witty and informative, hated by the Right, he's a guy to take seriously. Or so I had thought.
Here, Palast goes off on one about Galloway, citing from the usual catalogue of charges and slanders from the liberal warmongers and miniscule sectarian grouplets. Like I say, Palast is - whatever else he is not - an investigative journalist. So, judge for yourself why he gets it so profoundly wrong on the following three accounts.
1. The title. He invites readers into his screed with the following words: 'GALLOWAY: DEADLY ANTI-ABORTION THREATS FROM REPUBLICAN'S FAVORITE "LEFTIST"'. Note that not a single word of Galloway's is adduced to support the thesis that he has issued "deadly anti-abortion threats" of any kind. This is for the perfectly excellent pragmatic reason that Galloway has issued no such threats. There is also the intriguing suggestion that Galloway is a 'favourite' among Republicans - which would possibly explain why they singled him out in 'investigations' as part of an unsuccessful effort to discredit the antiwar movement.
2. The claim that Galloway endorsed the death threats against Salman Rushdie at the Edinburgh Fringe some weeks back. Here is how The Guardian reported his remarks:
Mr Galloway, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, said TV executives had to be "very sensitive about people's religion" and if broadcasters did not show sufficient sensitivity they "had to deal with the consequences".
He said: "You have to be aware if you do [offend people's beliefs] you will get blowback. You should do it very carefully, especially if you are a public service broadcaster."
Palast reassembles those remarks on the basis of what Salman Rushdie apparently said (to whom is unclear) to expostulate that this was an endorsement of the fatwah issued by Ayatollah Khomeini. However, I think you may have noticed, even if Mr Palast has not, that there is a considerable difference between urging sensitivity and advocating killing for God.
3. The charge that Galloway has a 'record' of opposing a woman's right to choose in parliament:
Add this endorsement of killing for God to Galloway's notorious opposition in Parliament to a woman's right to choose abortion, and you get yourself a British Pat Robertson.
The first thing to make clear is that Galloway has not voted in parliament on a woman's right to choose. An investigative journalist might have been able to find this out straightforwardly enough, by checking his voting record. (Incidentally, would a 'British Pat Robertson' vote in favour of extending gay rights or denounce the bigoted Keep the Clause campaign ran by Scottish tycoon and union-buster Brian Souter? Or break with Cardinal Winning, someone he had been friends with, over the latter's bigoted outbursts against gays?) Galloway has, however, explained that "I am not opposed to a woman's right to choose". Again, it might well have occurred to you that saying "I am not opposed to a woman's right to choose" is not quite the same thing as uttering "deadly anti-abortion threats".
Now, elsewhere, Palast makes an astonishing series of charges about the Mariam Appeal, which was investigated by the Charities Commission, who according to Palast "excoriated [Galloway] for failing to record where [an alleged missing million] came from and where it went". Here are the full findings of the Charities Commission, which Palast insists he has read: Mariam Appeal findings. I urge you to find a single reference to an alleged missing million dollars, for I cannot. I am struggling even to find a word of excoriation. Palast is certain that "nearly a million dollars can't be accounted for", and cites the findings of the Charities Commission as his source - yet the source does not say what he claims it does. The director of the Charities Commision did say that:
The commission's thorough inquiry found no evidence to suggest that the large amounts of money given to the Mariam Appeal were not properly used.
So, from one million dollars misused - some paid to Galloway's wife, according to Palast as part of 'emergency payments' - we find with a simple scan of his source, zilch misused. Palast could be relying on the forged documents adduced by the Senate sub-committee. But I can find no mention of a missing $1 million from the Mariam Appeal there. He might be relying on other forged documents, but the sum mentioned there is $10 million - and, as I say, those documents were forged. Or what the Senate subcommittee called the "seemingly forged documents" that landed the Telegraph in such trouble, but the sum mentioned there was $375,000 a year. Or he may have some new ones of his own, who knows? There seems to be a real market for forged documents about George Galloway. The total funds raised by the Mariam Appeal amount to £1 million. Could it be this figure which is confusing Palast? And where Palast claims that Galloway diverted most of $1 million that allegedly cannot be accounted for to 'emergencies' such as a payment for his wife, the Charities Commission was precisely able to account for this payment and indicate that it was a salary payment made to all executives of the Appeal, and further "accepts that none of the Executive Committee acted in bad faith and that the services provided were of value to the Appeal".
Greg Palast is a brilliant investigative journalist. Yet he cannot in this case bring himself to read his own sources, check his own claims, back up his own assertions. It is a remarkable slither into a journalistic swamp. The Beautiful Soul leftism manifest there is largely a result of weakness, not strength. Ideologically, what it represents is capitulation to the Right. As another blogger once explained, these creatures will:
endlessly plead before an imaginary tribunal, packed with neo-cons/ assorted members of the Right. This tribunal tirelessly, and with the immense ideological and economic resources at its disposal, accuses the Left of predictable crimes and complicities. It's principle aim is to exonerate itself before this tribunal by placing before it endless examples of Left-wing venality. Secondly, it seeks to occupy and re-tread a terrain of argument mapped out for it in advance by the Right. It scuttles obediently back and forth before the points of this circumscribed territory, reiterating that this is indeed the correct and proper terrain.
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