Saturday 21st of May 2022

dancing at the cole inquiry .....



On April 13 2006, Miranda Devine writes (tongue in cheek, I hope) an opinon piece in The Sydney Morning Herald:

Baby boomers' gyrating days are numbered ….. 

It's time to accept that youth culture is for the young, not the young at heart. 

MICK Jagger, at 62, is just four years younger than John Howard - exactly, as they share a birthday on July 26. But, fit though he is, it would be impossible to imagine the Prime Minister gyrating his pelvis on stage in skin-tight black leather pants, left nipple exposed, with the Rolling Stones at Telstra Stadium on Tuesday night.  


Gus is dancing in the street and singing in the rain: 

Yes Miranda... But watch our Prime Mincer, the Grocer of Kirribilli, dancing his way out of a pickle on the stage at the Cole inquiry... Then you will know that this pelvic move under the disco lights, the "grand-jetes" across the floor like the Nureyev of Swan Porkies, are there to dazzle us with perfect Fred Astair astute footwork elegance. The oldies still can cut the cheese, my dear... "I do not recall, I do accept this interpretation, I do not know, I dispute this, I do not know anything to the contrary on what I was advised..." The mix of moves will the same concoction seen before but here, at the pass-the-buck-to-Saddam inquiry, the jumps are higher (the creaky joints a bit stiffer mind you...) Will the dancing maestro of Canberra fall flat on his face in a daring "three-petits-pas" to the music of the Rolling Stones? I'd like to see that.. but I don't count on it!!

Dancing with the truth

From Al Jazeera
Howard told the inquiry in Sydney, using the Australian expression "rort" which means to defraud: "It was public knowledge that Iraq was rorting the oil-for-food programme. I was aware that Saddam had rorted the programme.


"There was absolutely no belief, anywhere in the government, at that time that AWB was anything other than a company of high reputation."

The prime minister echoed testimony from his foreign and trade ministers, saying he had not seen 21 diplomatic cables between 2000 and 2004 warning of possible AWB kickbacks.

Read more at Al Jazeera..

Dancing with full-on whatever

From the SMH (Peter Hartcher)

.... Howard can now say that he has done everything possible to convene a full and open and independent investigation of the wheat-for-weapons bribery scandal, and that he has done everything possible to cooperate with that investigation.

Except, of course, that he hasn't. The commission's terms of reference are to inquire into whether companies broke the law, not the government or its ministers. Howard's Government wrote the rules to put the heat onto AWB, and not on the Howard Government.

And so, today, there was no real heat applied to the leader of that Government in the inquiry of his own creation. The counsel assisting the inquiry, John Agius, questioned Howard on whether he had any knowledge of AWB's illegal acts from 1999 to 2003. Howard said he did not believe that he did.

For a high-level barrister, Agius was remarkably credulous. He did not challenge the Prime Minister on this, and did not test him in any rigorous way. And he failed to ask Howard about a number of relevant points.

For instance, we know that Howard's then foreign affairs adviser, Paul O'Sullivan, appointed by Howard to become the new head of ASIO, last year coached AWB in how best to deal with the UN's Volcker inquiry. Why? Howard was not asked.

read more at the SMH

It's all in the delivery

Dear Mr Howard

Thank you thank you...

Thank you for showing us the way to the truth.

Yes, we have been unkind here and unwilling to trust you, but with your appearance at the Cole inquiry, I can only lift me lid to you. Here was I thinking you were going to porky us with a "I knew nothing" routine that you actually convinced us with the "I knew nothing" honest plea. I had tears in my eyes to see how injust we all have been.

As a humble artist and a crummy cartoonist, I'll go back and draw more "Trompe-L'Oeil" meself...

Thank you once again...

Yours, whatever

Ignorance is bliss-ish

From the Guardian

The ignorance of Mr Howard

Saturday April 15, 2006
The Guardian

There was no more steadfast ally of George Bush and Tony Blair in the invasion of Iraq than John Howard, the prime minister of Australia. Mr Blair, in particular, was full of praise for his "strength and leadership" and his willingness to "get stuck in". Just a month before the war began, the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, informed Mr Howard that Britain was "in exactly the same position as the Australian government in respect to Iraq".

Not quite, we hope. Mr Howard has now become the first Australian prime minister in 23 years to be called to account before a judicial commission after it emerged that a company exporting wheat to Iraq under the UN's oil-for-food programme had been paying huge kickbacks to Saddam Hussein's regime right up to the start of the invasion. It is by no means inconceivable that some of this money paid for weapons that were then used to fight Australian troops.

The company, AWB (formerly known as the Australian Wheat Board), has exclusive marketing rights for bulk wheat exports from Australia. It was Iraq's largest single supplier under the oil-for-food programme and also, it now emerges, Saddam's largest supplier of bribes - to the tune of £125m.

Although a series of 21 diplomatic cables dating back almost three years before the war had warned the Australian government that AWB was suspected of paying bribes, Mr Howard denies that he received or read any of them. Even though he made a speech just a week before the war accusing Saddam Hussein of cynically exploiting the oil-for-food programme in order to buy weapons, it apparently never occurred to him that AWB might be involved. "I always believed the best of that company," he told the judicial commission. Mr Howard's foreign minister and his trade minister have also succumbed to ignorance and/or amnesia as far as the warning cables are concerned. Foreign minister Alexander Downer told the commission that had "no specific recollection" of the crucial messages, and that he gets so many cables he tends not to read them all unless "I'm stuck on a plane and I've run out of reading material".

Not surprisingly, this is stretching the tolerance of voters and has caused a sharp dip for Mr Howard in the opinion polls. It may not bring down his government, but it does make his principled stand against Saddam's dictatorship look distinctly grubby and will do little for the morale of Australian troops still risking their lives in Iraq.

read more at the Guardian

Smaller potatoes

From the Washington Post
E-Mails Tie Former GSA [(US) General Service Administration] Official to Abramoff
Safavian Attorney Objects to Disclosure
By Thomas B. Edsall
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 15, 2006; Page A09

Federal prosecutors last night released hundreds of e-mails documenting the business and personal ties between former White House aide David H. Safavian, lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and a network of congressional representatives and staffers.

Within days after becoming chief of staff at the General Services Administration, for example, Safavian began discussions of government property opportunities with Abramoff. In other e-mails, Abramoff suggested that then-GSA Administrator Steve Perry join them on a $130,000 golfing trip to Scotland.

Safavian's attorney, Barbara Van Gelder, reacted angrily to the Justice Department's decision to make the documents publicly available in a filing in U.S. District Court. Safavian has been charged with obstructing justice by telling investigators that Abramoff had no business dealings with the GSA.

Read more at the Washington Post

Mea culpa stranded in the fog of law

From the ABC

AWB documents suppression ruling looms
A bid by wheat exporter AWB to stop the release of an "apology document" is being heard in the Federal Court in Melbourne.

Earlier this month the AWB board voted to lodge the court challenge to AWB inquiry Commissioner Terence Cole's decision to lift a non-publication order on the document, which was prepared for the company last year.

The document was written by a crisis management expert, who suggested the company take a strategy of "over-apology".

Commissioner Cole ruled the document was not prepared for the purpose of legal advice and so could be published.

An AWB spokesman said the board felt the document, and others to do with AWB's internal investigation into the scandal, should be protected by legal professional privilege.

read more at the ABC

PM in the poo

From the ABC

PM may be in contempt of oil-for-food inquiry
Lawyers for several AWB executives are reportedly planning to accuse Prime Minister John Howard of being in contempt of the Cole inquiry, due to his comments to the media that AWB had misled the Government.

A constitutional law expert says Prime Minister John Howard has at the very least, pre-judged the outcome of the inquiry into AWB kickbacks.

Professor John Williams from the University of Adelaide says the Royal Commission Act states commentary cannot be made on the inquiry and Mr Howard has pre-judged the matter.

"I think the Prime Minister by his comments about what evidence has been led and what should be the result runs the risk of pre-judging it and leaving it for the community to think 'well, what's the point of having this'," he said.

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer says the Iraqi kickbacks scandal could have some broader political fallout for the Government.

Mr Downer says he is not surprised by the results of the latest AC Neilsen Poll which indicated more than 70 per cent of Australians who were aware of the inquiry thought the Government knew about kickbacks allegedly paid to Saddam Hussein's regime.

Mr Downer has told ABC TV's Lateline program, the public reaction has been driven by media reporting of the inquiry.

"We set up the Cole Commission ourselves to get to the heart of this matter and it may cause us some sort of broader political discomfort I suppose, as it conducts its work," he said.

"But I think the Cole Commission has by the way been very professional and not all of the media reporting necessarily reflects the way the commission has done its work."

read more at the ABC

Gus thinks Mr Clowner is a bit disingenuous in his rant... The government set up the Cole inquiry with a straight jacket as not implicate the government in it... And now the PM — a fully fledged lawyer — has put his foot in it... Love it...

Misleading Denial?

From the ABC

PM denies AWB contempt claim
Prime Minister John Howard says he has never been contemptuous of the Cole inquiry into AWB kickbacks.

After appearing as a witness at the Cole inquiry this month, Mr Howard told a media conference that AWB had misled the Government.

Now lawyers for AWB executives are expected to argue that Mr Howard is in contempt of the commission.

worthy bedfellows ...

They deserve each other Gus ....

 Just wish that the rest of us could be rid of them.

Serious swating and dancing...?

From the ABC

Howard promises penalties over AWB scandal
By US correspondent Michael Rowland

Prime Minister John Howard has told a US newspaper there will be serious consequences for any of his ministers found to have known about the illegal payments to Iraq.

The US wheat industry and key senators have expressed anger over AWB's conduct in Iraq, claiming it robbed American farmers of lucrative contracts.

Mr Howard has written piece for the Wall Street Journal in which he notes the Australian Government acted swiftly in setting up the Cole inquiry into sanction-breaking payments to the regime of Saddam Hussein.

He says it is serious about prosecuting those responsible.

The Prime Minister also says there will be serious consequences for any minister who knew about the kickbacks and failed to act - including himself.

Mr Howard has also accused international competitors of trying to blacken Australia's reputation in the hope of winning some advantage from what he describes as "this sorry saga".

read more at the ABC

certain people .....


”Oh no, you'd be surprised. Well you know, I think I can say without fear of
being in trouble with the trial court that some of the people who have been
charged with certain offences; now I'm not saying they are bad people, but they
are in receipt of extensive social security benefits.” 

Not like some of the people who
haven’t been charged with “certain offences”: people like Robert Gerard, Steve
Vizard, Trevor Flugge etc? 

But surely our champion sledger
wouldn’t be trying to suggest that “evil doers” might be recognised by the fact
that they receive social security benefits, or is it that people who receive
social security benefits might be recognised as “evil-doers”?

AWB still kickin'?

From the ABC

Inquiry releases AWB apology
The head of the oil-for-food Inquiry, Commissioner Terence Cole, has released the apology document prepared between AWB, company lawyers and US public relations consultant Dr Peter Sandman.

The document, drafted by former managing director Andrew Lindberg, states that AWB accepts in paying money for inland transportation and after sales service, it paid money to the Iraq government in contravention of the UN sanctions.

The document also states that although there were warning signs, AWB did not challenge the payments and for this they are truly sorry.

It also says AWB deeply regrets any damage this may have caused to Australia's trading reputation, the Australian Government or the United Nations.

The statement admits they failed to consider the implications of UN sanctions, and should have had their own internal systems of checks and balances to stop any abuse of the oil-for-food program.

It concludes there is no excuse for what happened, that the company simply should have done better, and that Mr Lindberg is deeply sorry that it did not.

AWB had decided not to release the document, but it was mistakenly tendered to the Cole inquiry, along with other AWB evidence.

Yesterday AWB lost a bid in the Federal Court to keep the document confidential.

Officials gagged
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has confirmed that it has gagged officials from answering questions relating to the Cole inquiry when Senate estimates hearings resume next week.

Leader of the Government in the Senate Nick Minchin has written to the Opposition about the decision.

The gag has also applied to previous hearings held since the commission into the AWB kickbacks scandal was set up.

Clerk of the Senate Harry Evans has previously described the move as "technically unlawful", but Senator Minchin rejects that.

He says the gag will not be lifted until Commissioner Cole hands down his findings.

read more at the ABC


Maybe we should chip-in to buy a memory chip for the PM — whose memory is becoming a bit too fuzzy —to remind him, if he can remember, not to forget to read classified non-self-destructing-in five-seconds secret notes from ASIO on bribes to Saddam without leaving the relevant bit out... Maybe Mr Murdoch is right. Rupert has seen the oncoming "senioratisation" of the PM at close hand... With that shovel in hand for a picture opportunity in Washington, Johnnee looked like an undertaker on the job... With the result of this shovelling-training he should go to Iraq and bury the bodies of all the people who died there at the result of his little war, accompanied by his little mate Dopey,

slowly chipping away

from the ABC

Two AWB executives quit
Two more senior AWB executives have resigned from the wheat exporter, in the wake of the scandal arising from the oil-for-food inquiry.

The two executives, Michael Long and Charles Stott, were central to wheat deals with Iraq.

Mr Long, who was international trading manager, has admitted to the Cole inquiry that he did know that payments to a trucking company went to the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein.

Mr Stott was responsible for getting Department of Foreign Affairs approval to use the trucking company, well after AWB began making payments.

The Jordanian company never actually trucked any wheat, despite receiving almost $300 million in payments.

Mr Stott also worked for BHP, where he played a role in a deal where payment for a humanitarian wheat shipment was collected by AWB.

The payment was passed on to another petroleum company.

AWB's managing director and three other executives have resigned from AWB since the Cole inquiry began.

AWA soup...

From the ABC

Court blocks Cole from AWB documents
The Commissioner of the oil-for-food inquiry has been prevented from using new powers given to him by the Senate to demand thousands of documents from AWB.

The Federal Court has issued an interim order restraining Commissioner Terence Cole from asking AWB to produce documents.

It claims they are protected by legal professional privilege.

Last week ,the Senate passed an amendment to the Royal Commissions Act, giving Commissioner Cole the power to demand the material.

The Federal Court is due to hear a claim next month by the wheat exporter that the papers are all privileged.


Gus: what have they got to hide? What is "privileged" information when there has been a total cock up of the contracts? So what has the Federal Court to fear since Parliament authorised the use of the documents? Are they really that bad? are they written in such a way that more crookery would come to the fore? Are they just about how one sells something to somebody else with secret soup? ...

Willing partner

From the ABC

Govt a 'willing partner' in AWB cover-up
A federal Labor MP claims to have proof the Howard Government colluded with grain trader AWB to hide the kickbacks paid to the former Iraqi regime.

Victorian MP Kelvin Thomson says documents he has obtained under freedom of information show the Government tried to keep the United States from investigating the payment of kickbacks through the wheat trade with Iraq.

The AWB is being investigated by the Cole Commission.

Mr Thomson says the Government knew what was going on.

"The Howard Government was a willing partner in this cover-up," he said.

"It was involved in the cover-up up to its eyeballs, and colluded with AWB in preventing the truth about the kickbacks from becoming public."


From al Jazeera...

Oil-for-food scandal: Korean convicted

Friday 14 July 2006, 5:35 Makka Time, 2:35 GMT

A South Korean businessman has been convicted of conspiracy for accepting at least $2 million to secretly act as an agent of Iraq to influence the United Nations' oil-for-food programme.

The jury deliberated for less than a day after a two-and-a-half week trial that told of briefcases bulging with cash and secret meetings involving Saddam Hussein and Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the former UN secretary-general.

US prosecutors said that Park Tongsun acted on behalf of Saddam by lobbying US and UN officials to drop economic sanctions, and broke the law by failing to notify the justice department.

They also said Park received about $2 million from Iraq and had asked for up to $10 million saying that he needed it to bribe his friend, Boutros-Ghali. There was no evidence Boutros-Ghali received any money.

Park, 71, faces up to five years in prison when he is sentenced on October 26.

From Al Jazeera

Oil-for-food probe raps global firms

Thursday 27 October 2005, 23:01 Makka Time, 20:01 GMT

About 2200 companies in the UN oil-for-food programme, including corporations in the United States, France, Germany and Russia, paid a total of $1.8 billion in kickbacks and illicit surcharges to Saddam Hussein's government, a UN-backed investigation has said in its report.

The report on Thursday from the committee probing the $64 billion programme said prominent politicians also made money from extensive manipulation of the UN oil-for-food programme in Iraq.

The investigators reported that companies and individuals from 66 countries paid illegal kickbacks using a variety of ways, and those paying illegal oil surcharges came from, or were registered in, 40 countries.

There were two main types of manipulation: surcharges paid for humanitarian contracts for spare parts, trucks, medical equipment and other supplies; and kickbacks for oil contracts.

Among the companies that paid illegal surcharges were South Korea's Daewoo International and Siemens SAS of France. On the oil side, contractors listed included Texas-based Bayoil and Coastal Corp, and Russia's oil giants Gazprom and Lukoil.

Gus is amazed that this Korean bloke is the only one caught out...

Yes, when is the penalty shoot-out for AWB? $300 millions making the AWB a first prize winner in dishing bribes...

But we know how it works, a bit of a storm and them everyone goes back to sleep... The AWB scandal is dying in the bum so to speak... apart from a few US farmers discontent that they missed out on the contracts....

But if I may say the US administration — who would have had to know of the kickbacks at the time they were made — chose to "laissez-faire" as a way to engross our government in the war... Imagine! Our government refuses to go to war... bang, one is hit for six and exposed for what it is,,, a cheat.

Like in the Costello biffo, one sat on the info for twelve years and then tries to cook the goose... But our St Pete forgot there is a way to baste it... You need to know with certainty the reactive effect of the exposure... When it comes to our rodent, the fellow extensive knowledge of trickery is such that even in the case of a deal having been made it can only take two seconds to show it was a deal that "could not be made"...

Costello was flattered and bought the dummy... now he is spitting it.

Will St Pete eventually become PM? Who knows but this episode shows he can be conned... and the international political stage is the biggest stage for trickery and deceit... It is nice to collect three bucks on a round of poker that we win with four aces and a king but to win several billions with a pair of seven takes a lot of skills...

Wheat back on the menu...

From the ABC

Shooting payout ends Iraqi trade threat
Iraq's Trade Minister says he sees no barriers to trade with Australia after the Federal Government agreed to pay compensation to the family of one of his bodyguards, who was shot dead by Australian troops last month.

Minister Abdul Falah al-Sudany had threatened to review trade ties with Australia over the affair.

"We have reached an agreement on compensation with Australia over the shooting incident," he said.

"We don't have any vetoes on importing Australian wheat and we hope to go back to a normal relationship with Australia."

One of Mr Sudany's bodyguards was killed and four people were wounded when Australian security forces in Baghdad shot at the bodyguards' car as it approached their convoy on June 21.

An Australian military inquiry later cleared the soldiers of any wrongdoing, angering Mr Sudany.

He demanded compensation and that the inquiry to be reopened.

No penalty yet?

From the ABC

Restructure will boost accountability: AWB

The chairman of AWB has told the annual conference of the Australian Grains Industry in Sydney that changes to wheat marketing arrangements will increase corporate governance and accountability.
Brendan Stewart says the $2 million restructure, to take effect in October, will boost the autonomy and transparency of AWB International, which currently owns the single desk licence.
Mr Stewart says the company is implementing the recommendations of grower groups and a review, and is open to further changes.
"The fact that the board has already implemented all these recommendations, including changing the remuneration structure, closer alignment of incentives and an external review of the wheat benchmark, indicates that the board is not sitting on its hands," he said.
Meanwhile, a group of grain growers - mainly from Western Australia - is investigating possible legal action against AWB.
The WA Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA) says it is researching whether there are irregularities with AWB's incentive scheme.
The group of growers is concerned that $200 million could have been deducted from income that should have gone to growers.
The PGA's Leon Bradley says a legal firm has agreed to act on its behalf to investigate concerns.

"Our first concern is that the benchmark itself is internally determined by the AWB and we're [|concerned about its integrity]," he said.

Dancing at the Queensland election

Fiddled from the ABC with comments BY GUS IN CAPITAL LETTERS

PM heads to Qld for Coalition campaign launch
The Prime Minister John Howard is entering the Queensland election campaign for the first time, with just six days left before voters go to the polls.
The Queensland Coalition is officially launching its campaign today.
Federal Opposition Leader Kim Beazley was not invited to speak when Labor staged its official launch last week.
Queensland Nationals leader Lawrence Springborg says John Howard will be addressing the Coalition's function.
"He's very very keen to support us at the campaign launch," he said.
It is likely to be Mr Howard's one and only showing on the campaign trail.