Monday, June 06, 2005

Singing 'Like a Canary'

Newsweek reports Some of Saddam Hussein's most notorious former lieutenants have been dishing dirt. Senate investigators looking into prewar U.N. Oil-for-Food deals have named Saddam's former personal secretary and security chief, Abid Hamid Mahmoud al-Tikriti, former vice president Taha Yassin Ramadan and former foreign minister Tariq Aziz as key witnesses who have provided inside info about Saddam's regime. Senate staffers traveled to Baghdad earlier this year to interview Iraqi officials, and their reports are among the first official accounts of what captured Iraqi leaders are saying. "In interview after interview, the officials were generally forthcoming and quite proud—even boastful—of their creativity in undermining U.N. sanctions," says Sen. Norm Coleman, who leads one of several congressional probes into Saddam-era oil deals. According to Senate documents, Ramadan is one of the most talkative captives, supplying pithy quotes about how Saddam allegedly manipulated the prewar oil program to buy support from influential foreigners. Senate investigators quote Ramadan saying that Saddam's regime gave foreigners oil allocations—which could be cashed in for lucrative brokerage fees—as "compensation for support"... Kay says that Aziz "sang like a canary" about Saddam's effort to use oil deals to buy friendship among French, Russian and U.K. politicos. Kay says that Aziz once told him that if the U.S. government released him from prison, he would tour the United States, telling journalists and the public about the evil deeds of the former Iraqi regime, about Saddam's corruption and about the former dictator's "demented" mental state. Kay says that when he asked Aziz how the United States could be sure Aziz would keep this bargain, Aziz told him: "Mr. David, because you now own me."

Sing away, but don't plan on going on a tour.

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