From a Fox news article in 2002:
The remarks were blasted by Sen. Don Nickles, R-Okla., who said, “both sound somewhat like spokespersons for the Iraqi government.”
This is just breaking, but intel reports just released shows that 3 members of the US House of Representatives traveled to Iraq financed by Sadaam Hussein’s intelligence agency in 2002, just before the Iraq war started. The trip appears to have been financed by yet another “Oil for food” Scam. From AP:
An indictment in Detroit accuses Muthanna Al-Hanooti of arranging for three members of Congress to travel to Iraq in October 2002 at the behest of Saddam’s regime. Prosecutors say Iraqi intelligence officials paid for the trip through an intermediary.
In exchange, Al-Hanooti allegedly received 2 million barrels of Iraqi oil.
The lawmakers are not mentioned but the dates correspond to a trip by Democratic Reps. Jim McDermott of Washington, David Bonior of Michigan and Mike Thompson of California. There was no indication the three lawmakers knew the trip was underwritten by Saddam.
I’m sure that there will be forthcoming denials from all three, and please, whatever you do, just don’t question their patriotism…
This article had them taking heat over the trip in 2002, how hot would it have been if their constituents knew that Sadaam paid via oil?
WASHINGTON — Three congressmen who raised eyebrows during a recent trip to Iraq repeated their assertions that the war drums in Washington are beating too loudly.
On Wednesday, Reps. David Bonior, D-Mich., and Jim McDermott, D-Wash.– who were joined by Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., on the trip — held a press conference to further their argument that the United States should allow more time for international diplomacy rather than rushing off to war.
They said the Bush administration should give weapons inspections a chance to work before taking any military action.
Here’s a Google search for articles tagged “Bonior Iraq” from 2002, note that most are “pay per view”
Here’s a Google search for “Al Hanooti” in 2002, and this news appears very much related to the HLF trial. I’ll leave it to the journos who have Lexis Nexus access to dig the facts out of these.
UPDATE From Fox News (Who doesn’t put their archives behind a pay-per-view wall, hats off to them ! ) As predicted above spokespersons are denying all knowledge, and saying they were making the trip “for the children.” This even though highly controversial remarks were made by McDermott live from Baghdad at the time about the potential of war and UN Resolutions having nothing to do with the purported reason for the trip.
UPDATE: From CNN, apparently this was quite the Boondoggle, $34,000.00 is a tad much for three congresscritters on one trip wouldn’t you think?
Those services included providing the Iraqi government with the names of U.S. members of Congress believed to favor the lifting of sanctions against Iraq, arranging for delegations of those members to visit Iraq and traveling with those delegations, the indictment states.
Dean Boyd, a spokesman for the Department of Justice, said no member of Congress was aware of al-Hanooti’s alleged activities. “None of the congressional representatives are accused of any wrongdoing, and we have no information whatsoever that any of them were aware of the involvement of the Iraqi Intelligence Service,” he said.
According to the indictment, the Iraqi Intelligence Service paid $34,000 through an intermediary to Life for Relief and Development, the charity that employed al-Hanooti, to pay the delegation’s travel expenses.
UPDATE: More on Al Hanooti and his homeboys backgrounds from Patrick Poole.
UPDATE: This is what George F Will had to say about the trip back then, even before we knew that Sadaam’s intelligence agency footed the bill for the trip, from Seattle PI:
McDermott and Bonior are two specimens of what Lenin, referring to Westerners who denied the existence of Lenin’s police-state terror, called “useful idiots.” Perhaps Iraqi officials, knowing fathomless gullibility when they see it — they have dealt with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan — actually said such things. Or perhaps McDermott and Bonior heard what they wished to hear. Either way, these innocents abroad should have known that Iraq’s proclaimed policy is: The only permissible inspections would be those permitted by the 1998 agreement Saddam reached with his servant, Annan, who was last seen doing his Neville Chamberlain impersonation, waving a piece of paper (Iraq’s recent letter promising weapons inspections “without conditions”) that he said meant peace in our time. Under the 1998 agreement, various inspections are forbidden, such as any at eight “presidential sites” — about 12 square miles of facilities, with thousands of buildings.
McDermott sided with Saddam in opposing what McDermott calls the “coercive stuff” — inspections backed by force, which are the only kind that have even a remote chance of being productive. Parroting Saddam’s line to perfection, he said “Iraq did not drive the inspectors out, we” — actually, the U.N. — “took them out. So they should be given a chance.” His implication is that America, not Iraq, foiled inspections.
Bonior’s contribution from Baghdad was to charge that “a horrendous, barbaric, horrific” number of cases of childhood leukemia and lymphomas have been caused by “uranium that has been part of our weapons system that was dropped here during the last war.” These weapons “are coated with uranium that atomize and cause these serious health problems.”