Congressional trip to Iraq brings criminal charges
- This is so outrageous, the Zionists will stop at nothing! They should
be criminalized for giving free trips to Israel. This was a
fact-finding mission aimed at educating legislators about the effects
of the Iraq war. "Life" has been saving Iraqi civilians' lives. They
have always been working amicably with the US government until now.
Man charged as Iraqi agent over Congress trip
Wed Mar 26, 2008
By Randall Mikkelsen
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An Iraqi-American who helped organize a
controversial U.S. congressional trip to Baghdad in 2002 was charged
on Wednesday with working for ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's
government, which paid for the visit, the Justice Department said.
The indictment against Muthanna al-Hanooti said Iraq's foreign
intelligence service funneled $34,000 through the Islamic charity Life
for Relief and Development to pay delegation expenses.
It said al-Hanooti had been a lobbyist and public-relations
coordinator for the charity, based in Southfield, Michigan.
The indictment did not name the three lawmakers who took the trip in
September-October 2002, less than six months before the U.S.-led
invasion to oust Saddam.
But during the time in question, Democratic U.S. Reps. Jim McDermott
of Washington, Mike Thompson of California and David Bonior of
Michigan, who were all opposed to war against Iraq, took a highly
publicized trip to Iraq.
Delegation members said during their trip they warned Saddam's
government it must allow U.N. arms inspections, and McDermott charged
that President George W. Bush was willing to "mislead the American
people" about the need for war.
Republicans accused delegation members at the time of sounding a bit
like spokesmen for the Iraqi government and threatening to undermine
U.S. efforts to assemble an international coalition against Iraq.
Thompson said on Wednesday the trip had been approved by the U.S.
State Department and the United Nations.
"I was determined to learn as much as I could before voting on whether
or not to commit US troops to war," he said.
"Obviously, had there been any question at all regarding the sponsor
of the trip or the funding, I would not have participated."
McDermott spokesman Mike DeCesare said the congressman, a medical
doctor, had gone on the invitation of a Seattle church group. "We went
to see the plight of children under economic sanctions in Iraq,"
DeCesare said. "In terms of who or whatever from Michigan, we didn't
know them or anything about them."
The indictment said al-Hanooti traveled to Baghdad with the delegation.
Bonior left office in 2003. He later served as manager of John
Edwards' unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign.
Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said, "None of the
congressional representatives are accused of any wrongdoing, and we
have no information whatsoever that any of them were aware of the
involvement of the Iraqi Intelligence Service."
Al-Hanooti was arrested on Tuesday when he entered the United States
from abroad, Boyd said.
He was charged with working as an unregistered Iraqi agent, violating
economic sanctions against Iraq and making false statements. He was
released on $100,000 bond with an electronic monitor after an initial
court appearance in Detroit.
The indictment said Saddam's oil ministry gave al-Hanooti two million
barrels of oil in exchange for his help, and he resold the oil.
It said al-Hanooti traveled to Iraq and met with Iraqi intelligence
agents, who asked him to publicize the negative effects of economic
sanction against Iraq, and he reported to the agents information about
members of Congress.
The charity says on its Web site it was founded in 1992 by
"Iraqi-American professionals" to respond to a humanitarian crisis
after the 1991 Gulf War. It said it has provided more than $50 million
in humanitarian assistance worldwide.
The group was not immediately available for comment on the al-Hanooti
(Additional reporting by Joanne Allen, editing by Todd Eastham)
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