Tuesday, October 12, 2004

U.N. Oil For Food Program - Part 1

There's a scandal that's bubbling just below the surface of the political landscape, and like the magma churning a few hundred feet under Mt. St. Helens, it's due to blow just about any day.

If you recall, when the Duelfer report was issued last week, the big hue and cry was about the total lack of WMD, and the fact that Saddam's capabilities in that weapons arena were decreasing, not increasing as claimed by BushCo in the quick runup to the war. One of the stories that was buried rather deep, but did get a bit of mention, was the connection to the UN Oil for Food program. In fact, BushCo went as far last week as to trot out violations of this program as it's "reason de jour" for invading Iraq.

In discussing the Oil for Food program, the report did a nice little cut job on "old Europe" - and intimated that specific companies and named individuals from the continent, and particularly France, may have had some serious personal stakes in not participating in the invasion of a sovereign nation (yes, children, Iraq was sovereign long before the U.S. installed fake sovereignty earlier this year). Duelfer's boys also subnoted the involvement of American companies, but redacted the names of the companies and individuals "under the protection of the privacy act".

When I first heard this, I scratched my head a bit. I'll admit I know squat about the "privacy act" (I probably should know more about it), but it just seemed rather odd that potential criminal wrongdoings on the part of Saddam and some old Europe companies and individuals were within the bounds of "naming names", but not the American scofflaws. I didn't think any part of the privacy act prohibited the release of names of companies or individuals subject to criminal investigations. Certainly, ABC news didn't think so in January of this year, when they aired a rather lengthy report on the abuses of the UN Oil for Food program.

In fact, the ABC report named names, and even figures on the number of barrels allocated by voucher to two Americans, Samir Vincent and Shakir Alkhalaji.

Anyway, to make a long story even longer, the Christian Science Monitor today named some additional American names that were redacted from the Duelfer report. And yes, these companies and individuals were as complicit in shady dealings with the Oil for Food program as Saddam "3 Card Monte" Hussein. But you won't hear that. At least not before November 2. Click over to the CSM site for the details if you're so disposed.

Here's one name you should remember. Oscar Wyatt. Vincent and Alkhalaji were second tier bagmen compared to Wyatt. All three men have some rather, ah, interesting connections -- but none so compelling as does Wyatt. And there are reasons that Vincent and Alkhalaji's names came out in January, but nary a mention of Wyatt.

Have I set the table for you? Good. Because in Part 2, we'll have some fun exploring the story of Oscar Wyatt. You'll be surprised. Then again, maybe not. Certainly, you'll begin to understand why all of the huffing and puffing about the U.N. Oil for Food program is just that - huffing and puffing for a GOP sound bite. The real story is just below the surface. And it's a story that Karl Rove would prefer you didn't know.