Selective Memory

It would appear that the flavor of the month when it comes to 2008 horse race reporting is focused squarely on the fund raising woes of the Democratic Presidential candidates. What started with Hillary’s returning $850,000 of Norman Hsu tainted campaign contributions has grown into full on blitz of Democratic fund raising questions. Interestingly enough though, those who are quick to damn these candidates seem to suffer from a case of selective indignation.

Let me make this clear up front, I am in no way suggesting that we should sit by idly while those seeking the nomination for the most powerful job in the history of, well, history, take money from questionable sources. I am actually quite impressed with the thought of journalists being critical of who is in the pocket of whom. Had the fourth estate been nearly as critical of the money issue over the past six or so years we would certainly not be in the world of crap we find ourselves in today.

In this morning’s Politico Kenneth Vogul has a piece that, absent the past six years, would seem scandalous.

Democratic presidential hopeful Bill Richardson and a host of congressional candidates from both parties accepted cash from Oscar S. Wyatt Jr. and his wife, Lynn,since the federal government accused the Texas oilman of paying millions of dollars in kickbacks to Saddam Hussein.

Wyatt was indicted in 2005 on charges related to illegal payments for oil contracts from the Hussein-led Iraqi government under the United Nations’ oil-for-food program. And since then, the Wyatts have found willing recipients for nearly $22,000 in political donations.

Gasp!

Look, the scandal here is obvious to me. What the hell are Texas oilmen doing giving money to Democrats? Someone had better call the national weather service and find out if Hell has frozen over ‘cuz something ain’t right about that.

But seriously, I agree it is a travesty that anyone would take money from a dirtbag who used his connections to enrich himself and his buddies at the expense of our national security.

During last year’s presidential campaign, Richard B. Cheney acknowledged that the oil-field supply corporation he headed, Halliburton Co., did business with Libya and Iran through foreign subsidiaries. But he insisted that he had imposed a “firm policy” against trading with Iraq.”Iraq’s different,” he said.

According to oil industry executives and confidential United Nations records, however, Halliburton held stakes in two firms that signed contracts to sell more than $73 million in oil production equipment and spare parts to Iraq while Cheney was chairman and chief executive officer of the Dallas-based company.

I think we can all agree that anyone caught with their hands in this rapacious cookie jar deserves the same scrutiny as Clinton, Richardson, Lautenberg and the rest, no?

So far, the Bush administration has admitted that U.S. companies bribed Saddam Hussein’s government in order to win business from the dictator. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Negroponte, told Congress last April that U.S. companies had bribed Saddam Hussein’s government in exchange for government contracts during the 1990s. Sens. Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Joseph Biden (D-DE) urged Negroponte to disclose the names of U.S. companies involved in the bribes, but he refused.

The congressional General Accounting Office estimated that Saddam’s regime acquired $10.1 billion illegally through the sale of $5.7 billion in oil smuggled to Syria, Turkey and Jordan, and $4.4 billion through kickbacks paid by firms selling food, medicine and other goods to Iraq. The illegal sales occurred between 1997 and 2002. Ironically, some of that money ultimately was paid to Halliburton to finance Iraq’s reconstruction after Saddam’s downfall.

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