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Oil for Food = Money for Terror

Reported by Nancy - September 20, 2004 -

That's how the equation works, at least according to David Asman's special report last night (Sunday, 9/19, 9pm EDT).

The entire hour was a "what-if?" expansion of the alleged UN Oil-for-Food "scandal" that various Fox reporters & programs have been hyping for months. Asman anchored the program, which included extended reports from Eric Shawn, Greg Palkot & Jonathan Hunt. Here's my personal take on the broadcast:

The program tried to tie together a few radical right-wing themes in one neat package. For example, Asman called the 1991 Gulf War "the UN's finest hour". I'm sure "some" historians would agree & "some" historians would disagree, but that's a classic example of Fox opinion presented as fact. Still, it gave Asman the opportunity both to tout Gulf War I & to point out that it wasn't until 2003 that a US-led coalition "kicked Saddam Hussein out" -- as we all know, certain elements have always thought that the US should have "gotten" Hussein in 1991 & have never forgiven GHW Bush for not doing so.

Asman also claimed that this is the biggest financial scandal in "modern history", bigger than Enron, Worldcom, etc. I suppose if you narrowly define "modern history" as "the past couple of years" Asman is correct. But the BCCI scandal dwarfs them all, & of course neither Asman nor Fox want to remind viewers that GHW Bush was linked to that mess or that it was Kerry's Senate investigation of it that stopped terrorist funding in the early '90s.

Asman & others used loaded words throughout the hour -- scandal, corrupt, graft, monumental scam, enriching US enemies, the UN's "obsessive secrecy", Fox obtained a "secret" UN database, sinister connections, super-secret financial havens -- all nicely calibrated, along with some typically hideous Fox "music", to instill fear in uninformed viewers. My personal fave was Asman saying that this issue represents a "security disaster that could threaten the world". Good thing Asman NEVER exaggerates. A close second was Asman saying that 2 members of the Security Council may have profited from the Oil-for-Food program, which he later toned down, saying "staff" instead of "members" (someone must have pointed out to him that individuals are not "members" of the Security Council, nations are).

Clips of an interview with Representative Christopher Shays (R-CT) were shown throughout the hour (it may have been one interview, or several, Asman did not specify). Shays used similar language & innuendo, saying that Russia, China & Germany should have told Saddam Hussein to back down but they fought to keep him in power, & consequently they have "our blood on their hands". There were also clips from an interview with Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN), who was a little more measured than Shays, but not much.

Eric Shawn interviewed Paul Conlon, whom he identified as formerly working for the UN Oil-for-Food program, but I will post on that separately, as well as on 2 other interviews, once I have had time to do some background checking -- neither Shawn nor Asman provided much information about the people who were asked to comment for this story.

The phrase "enriching US enemies" may be the key to the whole brouhaha: US & UK companies are obviously annoyed that they didn't grab as a big a bite of the Oil-for-Food program as they would have liked.