` Murray Waas » iraq http://murraywaas.crooksandliars.com Investigative Reporting Fri, 28 Oct 2016 08:15:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 The Company He Keeps: How Bill Timmons’ partners grifted Saddam Hussein http://murraywaas.crooksandliars.com/2008/10/14/the-company-he-keeps-how-bill-timmons-partners-grifted-saddam-hussein/ http://murraywaas.crooksandliars.com/2008/10/14/the-company-he-keeps-how-bill-timmons-partners-grifted-saddam-hussein/#comments Tue, 14 Oct 2008 22:35:01 +0000 http://murraywaas.crooksandliars.com/2008/10/14/the-company-he-keeps-how-bill-timmons-partners-grifted-saddam-hussein/ Continue reading ]]> McCain aide William Timmons’ partners’ in his influence effort on behalf of Saddam Hussein, whom I wrote about in my Huffington Post story today, were Samir Vincent and Tongsun Park. Vincent pled guilty to federal criminal charges that acted as an unregistered agents of Saddam’s government; Park was convicted of similar charges after Vincent testified as a government witness against him that Park was also a covert agent of Saddam Hussein. Park was sentenced to five years in prison.

Timmons has claimed that he was unaware of much of what Vincent and Park were up to while he worked with them.

However, as my Huffington Post article makes clear, Timmons clearly was aware of Park’s notorious background when he introduced Vincent to Park:

In the 1970s, Park had admitted to making hundreds of thousands in payments and illegal campaign contriubtion to U.S. congresmen on behalf of the South Korean government. In 1977, Park was indicted by a federa grand jury of 36 counts of bribery, money laundering, making illegal campaign contributions, and acting as an unregistered agent of the South Korea Intelligence Agency. Rather than face trial Park fled to South Korea. All of the charges were later dismissed n exchange for Park providing information to federal and congressional investigators about which public officials received funds from the South Korean government.

So what became of Vincent and Park hooking up as a result of Timmons encouragement they do so?

Apparently behind Timmons’ back, Vincent, Park, and the Iraqis had an even more aggressive-and illegal- second track in play to convince the United Nations to ease or bring to an end sanctions: They would simply bribe the Secretary General of the U.N.

In April, 1995, according to the U.N.’s report on the oil-for food program, Saddam Hussein’s regime fomally made the decision to bribe Boutros Ghali. Vincent and Park were paid more millions of dollars to pay the bribes and facilitate the scheme.

If they succeeded entirely, the Iraqis promise to pay Vincent and Samir as much as $15 million.

Vincent has testified and told investigators that he and Park simply pocketed the money the Iraqis paid to them, and never even attempted to bribe Boutros Ghali. Boutros Ghali has denied that he was bribed, or that he even knew about the scheme at all, and there is no evidence to contradict him.

One of the reasons that the Iraqis were hoodwinked was that Tongsun Park, despite his notorious past, was able to ingratiate himself with Boutros Ghali. Park had more than a dozen meetings with Boutros Ghali at his office and residence during this period, and traded countless phone calls.

Boutros Ghali explained his relationship to investigators for the U.N. this way: “Because [Boutros Ghali] did not have a formal intelligence service at the United Nations, he felt compelled to supplement his knowledge through private sources and informal channels of communications.” Park, said Boutros Ghali, provided him “with “first class information”; “knew everyone”; and was “an integral part of the Washington nomenclatura.”

The Iraqis, intent on paying bribes to Boutros Ghali, did their part, even if they were only being hoodwinked by Vincent and Park, to get the money to the to two men.

In one instance, according to a U.N. investigative report, Vincent was given a half million dollars in a briefcase in a non-descript government office in Baghdad. Once back in the United States, Vincent met with Park and gave him his cut by handing him “a grocery shopping back” filled with “old bills.”

In another effort to get funds to Vincent and Park for the fictitious bribery scheme, hundreds of thousands of dollars was “delivered to New York via diplomatic pouch to avoid the risk of detection by custom officials,” says one volume of the Volcker report, “According to a staff member who worked at the Iraqi Mission, diplomatic pouches, the contents of which are immune to customs review, were carried by an individual who was often an Iraqi Intelligence Service member.”

In another instance, Park actually did pay almost a million dollars to a senior U.N. official who the Iraqis were intent to influence.

Describing this particular payment, a U.N. report said: “Before [Park] left Baghdad, Mr. Aziz gave Mr. Park $1 million in cash in a cardboard box, and then he arranged for Mr. Park to be escorted to the Jordanian boarder.” Once in Amman, Park had the money deposited in a bank there. The same day he opened the bank count, a bank check for $988,996 was made payable to the U.N. official, Maurice Strong. (Strong admits that he cashed the check but claims that he never knew that the money originated from Iraq.)

At the end of the day, apparently Saddam Hussein was grifted by his American lobbyists.

The late Edward Von Kloberg, also a lobbyist for Saddam, also apparently took money from the gullible dictator for services he actually never provided. As Mark Steyn wrote in the Atlantic:

According to the U.S. government’s Foreign Agents Registration records, he billed Saddam Hussein for several prominent op-eds that appeared in The New York Times. When the journalist Murray Waas called up the authors, none had heard of von Kloberg. Fraudwise, it’s small beer next to Saddam and his oil-for-food racket. But even so, bilking the Baathists took some nerve. Von Kloberg was an expert at schmoozing friendless regimes into picking up the tab for his social life, a one-man oily-for-food program he kept running for two decades.

Here is a column that I wrote about Von Kloberg shortly after his death.

http://murraywaas.crooksandliars.com/2008/10/14/the-company-he-keeps-how-bill-timmons-partners-grifted-saddam-hussein/feed/ 4
In Memory of Spc. Nicholas Peters and the other Kelly Park boys http://murraywaas.crooksandliars.com/2008/07/03/in-memory-of-spc-nicholas-peters-and-the-other-kelly-park-boys/ http://murraywaas.crooksandliars.com/2008/07/03/in-memory-of-spc-nicholas-peters-and-the-other-kelly-park-boys/#comments Fri, 04 Jul 2008 04:01:18 +0000 http://murraywaas.crooksandliars.com/2008/07/03/in-memory-of-spc-nicholas-peters-and-the-other-kelly-park-boys/ Continue reading ]]> Somerville, Mass, June 28, 2008–

The rules are simple enough for the kids playing in the stickball tournament this morning in Kelly Park: There are to be three people to a team. There are four innings per game. Two outs per inning. You walk on three balls. You strike out on two strikes. The second strike can be a foul ball.

Any ground ball not stopped or caught is a single. If you hit the ball over the double court line without it being caught or stopped, you have hit a double. If you smack the ball hard off the fence, you have a triple. And if you hit the ball entirely over the fence, of course, you have hit a home run. If you hit a deep foul ball over the fence, it is unclear whether it is to be counted as a foul ball or home run. In that case, the final decision is left to the whim of a grown up or the good will of the opposing team.

If you are eleven years old, and get a chance to bat, there are traditions to maintain: You must wear an oversized Red Sox jersey with the name Papelbon on the back. (That is the Sox’s closer for those not literate in such things. In an earlier time your jersey would have had the name Garciappara on it.) You dramatically roll your head from side to side to get the hair out of the eyes. Then you check the stick to make sure you are hitting at the ball from the right end. (This is very important; however, you hope that nobody sees you doing this.) Then you dig hard into the pavement with your converse high tops, lean way way back on your heels, and then smack at the ball—eyes closed allowed—with all of your eleven year old might. Whether you hit the ball or not, all is right with the world.

You hope you hit the ball of course. But if you don’t, you still get to have your face painted, hang with the older kids, have a hot dog with anything you want it on it– and then if you are really, really lucky you get to sit on your big brother’s shoulder to watch the dedication of the square to an older boy in the neighborhood.

The corner of Cragie and Summer is to be renamed in dedication for another little boy who once played stick ball in this park. There are two honor guards, one of which will fire off live rounds, interrupting the morning quiet and send singing birds scattering. A representative of the mayor will say a few words.

This is the unveiling of the new street sign dedicating Spc. Nicholas Peters Square.

Nick served a tour of duty in Iraq and came home in one piece. He survived the war but not the peace. Stationed at Ft. Hood, in Texas, someone in a bar did not like the fact that he was wearing a Red Sox jersey, and killed him.

Days after his killing, his baseball coach would say: “I can still see a 6 year old Nick skating at the rink and at 8 years old hitting a baseball.” Nick’s little niece, her mother, Shanna, told me the morning of the stickball tournament, still sees Nick all the time. She declares to her mom: “Uncle is laughing at you!” One day while coloring, she nonchalantly orders: “Uncle! Color in the lines!”

Who is to tell her that she is wrong to believe that her uncle is still with her?

When Nick was buried in a flag draped coffin, he was not buried in his military uniform. He was proud of being a soldier, but did not want to be known or remembered only for being a soldier. It was duty and service for him. But he did not want to be singled out for it. When he was told that he could watch a New England Patriots game from the sidelines if he were to wear his uniform, he said he would much rather dress in his civilian clothes and watch from the stands, his sister Shanna told me.

He had told his family before he left for the war that he did not want to be buried in his military uniform but rather in his Red Sox jersey. Nobody gave it a second thought after his tour of duty was over. Who could have thought that he would be killed at home or for the way he was dressed?

The stickball tournament in not just in honor of Nick, but also his friend, David Martini, who played stickball and baseball and hockey with Nick, and who too has died too young. David was family to Nick’s family and vice versa. Shanna, Nick’s sister, wanted Nick’s day to be David’s too.

All together, four other boys who played stickball with Nicholas Peters in Kelly Park have died too young deaths—the result of senseless violence, suicide, or drug overdoses. Casualties of an invisible war at home like the one in Iraq that has also been disappearing from our media.

When I return home from Somerville to Washington D.C., I find out that my friend Brian has been shot on the street because apparently the two kids robbing him did not think he was willing to hand over his cell phone fast enough. Even though he is shot three times, he is alright—although with one less spleen.

Unable to sleep, I go online and watch over and over again Bobby Kennedy’s speech on the menace of violence in America which he gave on April 5, 1968: “The victims of the violence are black and white, rich and poor, young and old famous and unknown. They are most important of all human beings whom other human beings loved and needed. No one can be certain who suffer next from senseless act of violence. And yet it goes on and on and on…

“Whenever any American’s life is taken by another American unnecessarily… Whenever we tear a the fabric of he lives which some other man has painfully and clumsily woven for himself and his children—whenever we do this—the nation is degraded.”

The next morning I have to go visit Brian in the hospital to see with my own eyes that Brian is all right. He smiles, banters with friends, nods off, and we are all reassured.

But what amazes everyone is that despite being shot three times, Brian ran quite an entire block and a half away to put some distance between him and the shooter before the police and EMTs could arrive. It makes no sense and perfect sense. He wanted to get to a safe place.

My thoughts return to that eleven year old kid playing in the stickball tournament. You want him to be safe. You think maybe you should have a heart to heart and tell him that when he gets older all that he has to do is not wear that Red Sox jersey certain places. If only it were that simple.

Below here is a video of Bobby Kennedy’s speech. Please watch and comment. And for more, here is a Huffington Post column.

http://murraywaas.crooksandliars.com/2008/07/03/in-memory-of-spc-nicholas-peters-and-the-other-kelly-park-boys/feed/ 28