Tuesday 25th of June 2024

Boomerang Bribes and the Faces of Felicity

Has the AWB Inquiry asked the Iraqis for an itemised list of who Saddam paid
bribes to. It would be interesting to know if any portion of the
kickbacks might have "boomeranged"

{extract from New Zealand Herald, 1/5/2004]

Iraqi official said today there was a list of cash bribes made by
Saddam Hussein's government to journalists, politicians and groups in
connection with the US$67 billion ($108.92 billion) UN-run oil-for-food

Jalal Talabani, a Kurdish member of the Iraqi
Governing Council, said Iraqi officials combing Saddam's files had not
decided whether to release the list as part of a burgeoning scandal
over the defunct programme.

"We have a list of cash paid to
journalists, personalities, groups and parties," Talabani told a news
conference after conferring with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan over
an Iraqi interim government.

Ms Felicity Johnston, the UN
customs officer who confesseed that if she had read AWB contracts
lodged with the UN prior to her taking of the job, has been strongly
assertive of Australia's accountabilty. Her opinion will now be recorded as testimony
to the Cole Inquiry. Could it be that Mr Agius sees in Ms Johston a
voice that will be credible to the Australian public in explaining the
Howard cabinet's negligence?

Ms Johnston also has the appropriate credentials to explain the ethical dilemma of AWB's situation:

Holmes:So really it’s quite clear that what AWB should have done right
from the beginning is reported these negotiations to the United Nations
and asked them for guidance?

Johnston:J: Yes that’s correct. What they should have done as soon as a
company was picked out for them for transportation by the government
(of Iraq), as soon as the prices were suggested by the government, it
was pretty clear that Alia was a government-sponsored institution and
they should have sought advice. Now perhaps people might have got
confused, perhaps people might unintentionally have been in breach of
the sanctions but as soon as the questions started to come from the UN,
“Is there anything that you’re doing,” however the question was
couched, “is there anything that you’re doing which might involved a
payment to the government of Iraq?” I think that was the time to deal
with it candidly, because no one would have prosecuted them if they had
done something inadvertently - but did they do it inadvertently? – I
don’t believe so.

JH: What they would have done is lost the wheat market…

FJ: Precisely.

JH: …or so they believed.

FJ: It’s an exercise in what’s right and what’s wrong.

In spite of the attempted media diversion, "freshing up" old news
to imply a new terror threat to Australia, the ineptitide of Vale, the
arrogant  snugness of Downer, and  the pompous indifference of the PM
have become clear to the Australian public thanks to the pictures and
headlines on Murdoch front pages.  Now a poker-faced Agius has revealed
a hidden ace, who as the last witness will be remembered clearly by
everyone, may become the font of much information that could become the
crux of a Cole finding of Prime Ministerial, Ministerial and
Departmental dereliction of duty.  Pretty enough for page one, too !

I was disappointed that the Four Corners account of events didn't get
to US Ambassador Thawley's aversion of an American inquiry just before
a Howard re-election,or  to Downer's involvement in the privatisation
profit-take, though this material probably wasn't in their 'terms of
refence' for the program. However, the comments of Iraq's current UN
ambasssor (who would surely have a copy  any list of bribe-boomerangs) 
eloquently portrayed how the AWB"s activities were perceived in
downtown Baghdad.

[extract from today's Advertiser]

Iraq's current ambassador to the UN, Samir Samaidai'ie told Four Corners that Australian diplomats must have known about AWB's kickbacks.

"Trade officials and ... embassy, they are well informed. They should, they should know," he said.

"I mean it's part of it, it was at that time I would say, eh, general knowledge or public knowledge."

Asked if you would have to be behaving like the three wise monkeys not
to know about AWB's activities, Mr Samaidai'ie said with a smile:
"Something like that".

As the last of the easter crumbs are wiped from the
chins of the three wise monkeys Howard, Downer and Valie, I wonder if
they're contemplating how long it will be till Felicity Johnston
removes their smirks?  Ot if the Cole commission will find a qualified
Iraqi that's both available and still alive?

Stay tuned.....