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Jack Kemp Questioned by FBI in Oil-for-Food Probe

Reported by Marie Therese - January 23, 2005

On the Big Story with John Gibson that aired Friday January 21, 2005, host Gibson spoke with Judge Andrew Napolitano, FOX News Senior Judicial Analyst, about the fact that Jack Kemp, noted conservative Republican, was questioned by the FBI as part of the widening Justice Department probe into the Oil-for-Food scandal. Kemp and former President Jimmy Carter were both named by recently convicted influence-peddler, Samir Vincent. Former President Carter - an outspoken opponent of the sanctions on Iraq - had only one or two very brief contacts with Mr. Vincent, a fact that was not brought out in the conversation between Gibson and Napolitano.

In fact Napolitano deliberately implied - good lawyer that he is - that Kemp and Carter have the same possibility of guilt. Kemp had monthly contact with Vincent over a long period of time whereas Jimmy Carter's involvement was minimal at best. To me, this is another example of FOX News' deliberately omitting crucial exculpatory information in order to "balance" the story to appear less damaging to the Republican, in this case, Jack Kemp. [Click here to read the original Newsweek report.]

It has been my contention all along that the voluminous coverage of the Oil-for-Food scandal by the reactionary media, coupled with the Senate hearings headed by by Sen. Norm Coleman, were part of a pre-emptive strike, carefully crafted and timed to soften the impact on conservative voters when it was revealed that prominent American individuals and companies were deeply involved in the Oil-for-Food scheme. Among the U.S. oil companies possibly implicated are ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco, oil refiner Bayoil and oil field equipment supplier. They have been subpoenaed by federal prosecutors, along with the largest U.S. buyer of Iraqi oil, Houston businessman Oscar Wyatt and his former company, Coastal Oil, now owned by El Paso Inc. At one point, while still incontact with Mr. Vincent, Jack Kemp approached Colin Powell and Dick Cheney.

I believe that the awful tsunami disaster forced the right-wing media to interrupt their massive assault on the the United Nations, Kofi and Kujo Annan, Benon Sevan, the French and the Russians, thereby throwing off their timetable. The heart-wrenching images from South Asia and the resultant improvement in the image of the United Nations has made it very difficult for them to re-activate the "hate-the-UN' campaign - although it would appear that they're still trying. Just the other day FOX aired the following promo for a Heartland special report and I quote:

"Saturday. Beatings. Rapes. Pedophilia. A new document exposes a sick and twisted trail of abuse by U.N. workers. It's an explosive Heartland."

According to the Washington Post, the United Nations is aware of these allegations and has been aggressively investigating them. For more on this story go to Washington Post, Nov. 27, 2004.

Here is my transcript of the interview.

GIBSON: Former Vice-Presidential candidate Jack Kemp questioned by the FBI in the Justice Department's investigation of the UN Oil-for-Food scandal. Why are they questioning Kemp?

NAPOLITANO: Well, because last week an interesting fellow by the name of Samir Vincent pleaded guilty here in New York City in federal court to being a secret agent for the government of Iraq during the Saddam Hussein years and in the interrogation of him by the judge, he revealed that he was lobbying former officials of the United States to lobby present officials of the United States to lift the sanctions on Iraq.

GIBSON: Among them?

NAPOLITANO: Among them Mr. Vincent alleges was Jack Kemp. Now ...

GIBSON: And also Jimmy Carter.

NAPOLITANO: ... and Jimmy Carter. Jimmy Carter, of course, the former President. Jack Kemp was the Secretary of Labor in the Reagan administration, was a Congressman from upstate New York and a very famous football player and is an outspoken supporter of the free market. Jack Kemp has been a proponent of the sanctions. Jack Kemp has argued that, if we lead Iraq to believe that the sanctions will never be lifted, we will never be able to use Iraq - use the sanctions - to effect Iraq's change. Again, this is during the Saddam Hussein regime. The problem is that, while Mr. Vincent was lobbying Jack Kemp and perhaps Jimmy Carter, he was being paid millions by the Iraq government to do this. The question is: Did Mr. Kemp and President Carter know about that? Were they unwittingly used by Vincent or were they just like any other American, trying to change policy?

GIBSON: OK. What does Jack Kemp say?

NAPOLITANO: Jack Kemp says that he has staunchly supported the sanctions, that he, in fact, did not lobby anybody in the American government to change the sanctions, but he did have a long-standing relationship with Mr. Vincent, whom he believed was interested in the security of the United States. Vincent is an American citizen as well as an Iraqi citizen.

GIBSON: Well, is Jack Kemp in some kind of jeopardy and, weirdly enough, in the Oil-for-Food scandal all those guys over at the UN are gonna walk with their packets stuffed with million dollar bills and somebody's gettin' on Jack Kemp's case?

NAPOLITANO: Unfortunately, those guys at the UN have diplomatic immunity and the most we can to do them is kick them out of the United States with, as you say, their dollars, their pockets stuffed with dollars. I don't think Jack Kemp is in any trouble at all. Jack Kemp cooperated fully with the FBI and says he answered all of their questions and they told him they were no longer interested in him. His name came up recently because of this guilty plea by Mr. Vincent. Now, I can tell you, John, from having taken thousands of guilty pleas, these guys at the time like to sort of throw the government a bone before the judge imposes sentencing, [saying something like] "By the way, two of the people I'm involved with you know, Mr. Prosecutor - former President Carter and former Labor Secretary and Congressman Kemp. You want to take that into account? Maybe I can tell you some things before I'm sentenced?"

I don't think this goes anywhere. Jack Kemp is an outstanding American who has supported the sanctions and never lobbied against them, as far as we know.

GIBSON: Alright. Judge Andrew Napolitano, thank you very much.

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