BadThursday, May 17, 2007
Even George Bush couldn’t save Paul Wolfowitz’ job as President of the World Bank after the vulpine neo-con was caught slipping a load of World Bank loot to his love interest, Shaha Ali Riza.
Big deal. Yes, Wolfowitz shouldn’t have been greasing his cookie sheet with government funds, but there were bigger reasons to toss The Wolf out the door.
Like, say, perjury and homicide? I haven’t forgotten, Mr. Wolfowitz, that on March 27, 2003 you testified before the US Congress that the occupation of Iraq wouldn’t cost the American taxpayer a penny.
You said, “There’s a lot of money to pay for this that doesn’t have to be U.S. taxpayer money.” Oh, really?
When Wolfowitz laid down that line of jive, he and the Bushes knew that Americans just can’t pass up a bargain, and here The Wolf was offering the sale of the century, a “free Iraq.” Not “free” as in “self-governing” but “free” as in, we’ll get their oil and their allegiance for nothing!
We can bomb Iraq and the Iraqis will pay for the bombs!
And where will the Iraqis, holding nothing but bushel-bags of Saddam dinars, get these billions of US dollars to pay for the Occupation?
Wolfowitz testified, “The oil revenues of that country could bring between $50 and $100 billion over the next two or three years.”
Is that so?
Wolfie’s claim was no small matter. It’s hard to remember, but lots of the Congressional debate was not about Saddam’s Weapons of Mass Destruction — the New York Times had already found those for us. Senators were asking, What’s this little war going to cost us? There was no way in hell Congress would have authorized Bush’s big adventure if it cost $100 billion.
Indeed, $100 billion was the price projected by the President’s chief economist, Larry Lindsey. The President corrected Lindsey’s math: Bush fired him.
You know the punchline: The war has so far cost the U.S. taxpayer over half a trillion dollars – and counting.
But you weren’t wrong, Wolfie. You were lying. And you knew it.
This is serious stuff. I can tell you, as a former government racketeering investigator: if you are wrong, well, stuff happens. But if you say one thing under oath but knew something very different, that, Mr. Wolfowitz, is perjury. Perjury’s a felony, Wolf, and you know it. Indeed, your neo-con buddy, Elliott Abrams, was convicted in 1991 for lying to Congress about Reagan’s arms-for-hostage swap.
So, did Wolfowitz perjure himself – or just get it wrong? While the question never crossed the mind of the Sheep-o-witz US press, which repeated Wolf’s no-cost-invasion claim unchallenged, my producer at BBC Television asked me to investigate.
I learned that Wolfowitz, then Deputy Secretary of Defense, would have gotten his numbers from the expert official designated to measure Iraq’s oil, Guy Caruso. Caruso once ran the CIA’s oil ops; now he’s the head of Bush’s Energy Information Administration. A source close to Caruso (in Saudi intelligence, no less) told me the ex-spook heard Wolfowitz’ testimony and said, “What are they getting this from?”
In 2004, I confronted Caruso in his Department of Energy office in Washington. Nice man. Caruso knows his stuff. And, after an hour of technical jibberish, he told me the info he gave Wolfowitz’ department — and the numbers didn’t add up to anything close to Wolfowitz’ Iraq oil windfall.
I then checked Caruso’s numbers with his own numbers man, another ex-CIA oil expert, Robert Ebel. I asked Ebel about the Wolfowitz claim of an oil gusher in Iraq that would pay for the US Occupation. Ebel wouldn’t answer until after the cameras were off. But I wasn’t asked to keep it off the record.
Ebel told me he had put the real numbers up on a think tank website just before the Humvees rolled into Baghdad. His projections conflicted big time with the fantasy facts to which Wolfowitz testified. Ebel told me that allies of neo-con conman Ahmad Chalabi asked Ebel to remove and bury the realistic numbers. He did.
Did Wolfowitz lie? Ebel smiled, “It was just part of the sales pitch, wasn’t it?”
The sales pitch?? WAR FOR SALE – CHEAP!
Well, you can say that one man’s sales pitch is another man’s perjury. If Wolfowitz had knowingly concealed the Caruso team’s findings while testifying under oath, then The Wolf is guilty of a felony. Moreover, perjury which leads to death is homicide.
But he’s off the hook. I checked the record. Ever since his crony Abrams was charged with perjury, Wolfowitz won’t testify under oath. Nor will any of the Bushies.
Wolfowitz did not raise his hand and swear to “tell the whole truth, so help me, God.” The Wolf’s home free. How the Lord will judge this loophole, I can’t say.
So, no perjury charge for Wolfowitz. Of course there’s another crime. His getting caught icing his cupcake, Ms. Riza, with World Bank funds, forces millions of innocent morning newspaper readers to suffer visions of these two neo-cons naked and nasty. Urgh!
Still, one can’t but help be touched by the romantic side of this story. After all, here were two people of different faiths, sharing their intense love . . . of money, secrets and lies.
Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller, ARMED MADHOUSE: From Baghdad to New Orleans — Sordid Secrets and Strange Tales of a White House Gone Wild, from which this report is adapted.