Sunday, January 23, 2005

Iraq - A Country After Our Own Heart

U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, John Negroponte was on Meet the Press this morning. Republican apologist Tim Russert asked him about allegations of stolen money and corruption in Iraq. Read it, (with my emphasis added):

MR. RUSSERT:  The New York Times reported yesterday that $300 million was taken from the Bank of Iraq, put on a chartered jet to Lebanon.  What can you tell us about that and how did it happen?

AMB. NEGROPONTE:  Well, first of all, we're looking into these allegations, but I would note that they have arisen in the context of an electoral campaign here and campaign charges that are being exchanged between two of the principal candidates.  So I'm not entirely certain what to make of them, but I would note that they come up one week before the election date.

In any event, we're looking into it and trying to find out as much detail about those charges as possible.  My understanding is that these are Iraqi moneys that are involved, not United States government appropriated funds. Nonetheless, we are trying to gather as many facts about this situation as we can.

MR. RUSSERT:  The Iraqi national security adviser said, "corruption is worse now than under Saddam Hussein."

AMB. NEGROPONTE:  Well, I just--I simply can't accept that or can't agree to that allegation.  I would also point out that while he may still carry the official title of national security adviser, he is, in fact, a candidate for political office and not carrying out the national security adviser function at this time.  But when you think of the corruption in the Saddam regime, the oil-for-food scandals, the billions of dollars that were smuggled out of the country, I think those levels of corruption simply pale in comparison to anything that might possibly have been happening in recent months.

Do you see what he's saying there? He's implying that the charges are bogus; a candidate simply said it about another candidate in order to win the election. What he isn't saying is the tacit acknowledgement that this is just how campaigns go - candidates file false charges against one another, "I mean, you know, Tim - think about the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. You know how elections can be."

*sniff* Iraq is all grown up now. And they're taking after their father. How sweet...

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