9/14/2005

Bushies, MSM lied about Oil-for-food corruption

Great new blog find! -- law

Bald-Faced Lies
Joshua Holland (12:17PM) link

The Wall Street Journal lied to its readers today about the Oil-for-food Program.

It wasn't spin--they out-and-out lied:

So it was that the largest fraud ever recorded in history came about. Press reports often cite the overall size of Oil for Food at $60 billion, but Mr. Volcker's report makes clear that the real figure was in excess of $100 billion. From this, Saddam was able to derive $10.2 billion from illicit transactions.

Yesterday, I took issue with an AP story for saying in its lead that Hussein had extracted $10.2 billion dollars from oil sales and only clarifying that just $1.8 billion dollars of that figure was under the auspices of the Oil-For-Food Program in the 17th paragraph. Today's Journal editorial never makes the clarification.

Let's get it straight.

Volcker Report (Vol1, p 83):

In describing sources of illicit income, a key distinction exists between illicit income from transactions that occurred under the programme (i.e., oil contract surcharges and humanitarian contract kickbacks) and illicit income from transactions that occurred outside the program (i.e., smuggling of oil and other goods in contravention of the sanctions regime).

Page 85:

…the Committee estimates that the total illicit income the Iraqi regime extracted under the Programme from oil buyers and humanitarian suppliers was $1.8 billion. This figure reflects $229 million in oil surcharges, $1.06 billion in after-sales service fees, and $527 million in inland transportation fees paid to the Iraqi regime.

Page 95:

…Iraq sold oil to neighboring countries and private entities during the entire sanctions period.
[…]

The committee estimates that the value of oil and oil products sold outside the sanctions regime from 1991 to 2003 was about $11 billion, of which approximately $8.4 billion was during the years of the program between 1997 and 2003.

Let's parse this further.

When writing about politics we all spin, everyone of us, consciously or not. It's a question of what facts we select, what we choose to emphasize or de-emphasize. It's human nature.

Lying, on the other hand, is asserting a claim that you know to be false.

The section of the Volcker report on the sources of the Iraqi regime's oil income is very, very clear. It's a 20-page, highly detailed chapter. (As was the earlier GAO report [PDF] that found that the regime had derived $10.1 billion in total revenues, $4.4 billion of which fell under the OFF program).

So there's no way they could have read the report and not known they were making a false assertion of fact. Early in the editorial, the Journal's editors wrote, "our conclusion from reading the 847-page report is that the U.N. is Oil for Food."

So they either lied when they said they read the report, or they lied when they claimed the report found $10.2 billion dollars stolen from the OFF program.

In that one graph I excerpted, they lied a second time. Based on their demonstrably false claim of the extent of Saddam's OFF racket, the editors assert, "So it was that the largest fraud ever recorded in history came about."

According to Wikipedia, the BCCI scandal entailed at least $13 billion in missing funds (meaning the statement that OFF was the biggest would be false even if the numbers claimed weren't). Also according to Wiki, the Worldcom scam saw $3.8 billion that had been "miscounted." The savings and loan scandal of the 1980s was estimated to cost around $150 billion (again, falsifying the 'largest frauds' claim whatever the OFF numbers are). I found four different estimates of the total value of Enron, none of which were anywhere near $1.2 billion.

I'm not sure why I continue to be surprised to find members of the mainstream media lying outright, but I do.

Anyway, I'm about 250 pages into the report, and by tomorrow I'll post a reality-based synopsis of what really went wrong--and right--with Oil-for-food.


Bald-Faced Lies

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