Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Coleman 1, Galloway 0

Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman is enjoying some vindication for his May 2005 confrontation with British MP George Galloway. Coleman, then the chair of the Senate's investigative subcommittee, had accused Galloway of profiting from shady oil-for-food deals with Saddam Hussein.

Galloway appeared before Coleman's committee (pdf) and angrily denied the allegations -- while refusing to address specifics -- and later claimed victory in op-ed pieces.

Fast forward two years. The British House of Commons completed its own investigation into the matter and reached a conclusion quite similar to Coleman's: that Galloway had, in fact, profited from oil-for-food deals. The committee involved has recommended that Galloway be suspended from Parliament for 18 days -- which seems like a slap on the wrist, but is apparently one of the most severe punishments that can be visited on an MP.

Galloway dismissed the report as the work of "a pro-sanctions and pro-war committee of a pro-sanctions and pro-war Parliament passing judgment on the work of their opponents."

Coleman did a bit of crowing, as he had every right to:

The Parliament report, Coleman said, "confirms what we've known all along: Galloway was neck-deep in the oil-for-food deals, he kowtowed to Saddam Hussein, and his bombastic denials were nothing more than a web of misleading statements."

Coleman also said it shows that Galloway was trying to mislead the Senate with his 2005 testimony and create the impression that he did not benefit from Iraqi oil deals.

"As Parliament's report states, he at best turned a blind eye, and 'on balance, was likely to have known and been complicit in what was going on,' " Coleman said. "In response, Galloway will huff and puff, but he can't blow away the facts of this report."

I'm not a Coleman fan -- I consider him an opportunistic weasel -- but I've never had any use for Galloway, either. Galloway was a lightweight, dislikable bully during the hearings, answering questions with rhetoric and bombast rather than relevancy. It was an entertaining spectacle, and one came away impressed with Galloway's forceful assertion of innocence. But one also was aware of all the questions he dodged.

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