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April 13, 2004
FROM SADDAM TO SCOTT RITTER, via the United Nations:
A Detroit-based businessman of Iraqi origin who financed a film by Scott Ritter, the former chief United Nations weapons inspector, has admitted for the first time being awarded oil allocations during the UN oil-for-food programme.
Shakir Khafaji, who had close contacts with Saddam Hussein's regime, made $400,000 available for Mr Ritter to make In Shifting Sands, a film in which the ex-inspector claimed Iraq had been "defanged" after a decade of UN weapons inspections.
The disclosure is likely to raise further questions about the operation of the oil-for-food programme, which is already the subject of Congressional investigations and a separate high-level UN inquiry.
The Sheik claims he financed Ritter's film with, er, other money. Yeah, it's not fungible or anything.
I rather doubt that the UN inquiry will produce much, but I think that this raises the question of just how many apologists for Saddam will turn out to have been getting Saddam's money, and whose hands it passed through along the way.
UPDATE: A reader points out that Ritter appears to have been right about the "defanged" part, based on evidence to date. True enough, but Ritter went beyond that one item to serve as a sort of junior Baghdad-Bob by the time it was all over.