Cuban Exile Could Test U.S. Definition of Terrorist
By Tim Weiner
New York Times
May 9, 2005
MIAMI - From the United States through Latin America and the Caribbean, Luis Posada Carriles has spent 45 years fighting a violent, losing battle to overthrow Fidel Castro. Now he may have nowhere to hide but here.
Mr. Posada, a Cuban exile, has long been a symbol for the armed anti-Castro movement in the United States. He remains a prime suspect in the bombing of a Cuban commercial airliner that killed 73 people in 1976. He has admitted to plotting attacks that damaged tourist spots in Havana and killed an Italian visitor there in 1997. He was convicted in Panama in a 2000 bomb plot against Mr. Castro. He is no longer welcome in his old Latin America haunts.
Mr. Posada, 77, sneaked back into Florida six weeks ago in an effort to seek political asylum for having served as a cold war soldier on the payroll of the Central Intelligence Agency in the 1960's, his lawyer, Eduardo Soto, said at a news conference last month.
But the government of Venezuela wants to extradite and retry him for the Cuban airline bombing. Mr. Posada was involved "up to his eyeballs" in planning the attack, said Carter Cornick, a retired counterterrorism specialist for the Federal Bureau of Investigation who investigated Mr. Posada's role in that case. A newly declassified 1976 F.B.I. document places Mr. Posada, who had been a senior Venezuelan intelligence officer, at two meetings where the bombing was planned.
As "the author or accomplice of homicide," Venezuela's Supreme Court said Tuesday, "he must be extradited and judged."
The United States government has no plan yet in place for handling the extradition request, according to spokesmen for several agencies. Roger F. Noriega, the top State Department official for Western Hemisphere affairs, said he did not even know whether Mr. Posada was in the country. In fact, Mr. Posada has not been seen in public, and his lawyer did not return repeated telephone calls seeking to confirm his presence.
Mr. Posada's case could create tension between the politics of the global war on terrorism and the ghosts of the cold war on communism. If Mr. Posada has indeed illegally entered the United States, the Bush administration has three choices: granting him asylum; jailing him for illegal entry; or granting Venezuela's request for extradition.
A grant of asylum could invite charges that the Bush administration is compromising its principle that no nation should harbor suspected terrorists. But to turn Mr. Posada away could provoke political wrath in the conservative Cuban-American communities of South Florida, deep sources of support and campaign money for President Bush and his brother Jeb, the state's governor.
To jail Mr. Posada would be a political bonanza for Mr. Castro, who has railed against him in recent speeches, calling him the worst terrorist in the Western Hemisphere.
To allow his extradition would hand a victory to President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, Mr. Castro's closest ally in Latin America and no friend to President Bush.
"As a Cuban, as a freedom fighter myself, I believe he should be granted asylum," said Marcelino Miyares, a veteran of the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion and president of the Christian Democratic Party of Cuba, which is based in Miami. "But it's a no-win situation for the United States government."
Orlando Bosch, the most prominent face of the violent anti-Castro wing in Florida, said in an interview broadcast on Tuesday in Miami that he had spoken by telephone with Mr. Posada, who, "as everybody knows, is here."
Mr. Bosch, a longtime ally of Mr. Posada's, presented a similar problem for the United States in 1989, when the Justice Department moved to deport him despite resistance from Miami's Cuban-Americans.
The Justice Department called Mr. Bosch "a terrorist, unfettered by laws or human decency, threatening and inflicting violence without regard to the identity of his victims," in the words of Joe D. Whitley, then an associate United States attorney general. Mr. Whitley added: "The United States cannot tolerate the inherent inhumanity of terrorism as a way of settling disputes. Appeasement of those who would use force will only breed more terrorists. We must look on terrorism as a universal evil, even if it is directed toward those with whom we have no political sympathy."
The first Bush administration overruled the deportation in 1990; Mr. Bosch remained in Florida. Mr. Whitley, now general counsel for the Department of Homeland Security, declined to comment on the Posada case.
Mr. Posada is said to be sick with cancer, facing mortality. Some veterans of the Bay of Pigs say the armed struggle he represents is dying, too.
"I believe that movement is already dead," Mr. Miyares said.
Alfredo Durán, who was captured at the Bay of Pigs and later led a militant anti-Castro group, said that "after 9/11, it has become inexcusable to defend attacks that could kill innocent civilians."
"Everybody's renouncing violence except a small group of ultra-hard-core right-wingers," said Mr. Durán, now a lawyer in Miami advocating peaceful change in Cuba.
Mr. Durán said that Mr. Posada had never renounced violence and that the question for the United States was whether to denounce him despite his service during the cold war.
Mr. Posada served with the C.I.A. from 1961 to 1967, according to declassified United States government records. He was scheduled to land at the Bay of Pigs, the attack on Cuba ordered by the Kennedy administration, but his mission was canceled when the invasion collapsed. He kept in close touch with the agency after leaving it and joining Venezuela's intelligence service, known by its initials as Disip, where he served as a senior officer from 1969 to 1974, according to the declassified records and retired American officials who served in Venezuela.
In 1974, after a change in government, Mr. Posada set up a detective agency in the capital, Caracas, an office through which many anti-Castro Cubans passed, according to F.B.I. records. He retained his links to Disip, a militantly anti-Castro agency in those cold war days.
Then, amid an international wave of violence by the anti-Castro movement, including the attempted bombing of a New York City concert hall, two attacks shook the United States and Cuba.
On Sept. 21, 1976, in the heart of Washington, a car bomb killed a former foreign minister of Chile, Orlando Letelier, and an American aide, Ronni Moffitt; at the time, it was one of the worst acts of foreign terrorism on American soil. Fifteen days later, a Cubana Airlines flight with 73 people on board was blown out of the sky off the coast of Barbados in the worst terrorist attack in Cuban history.
Mr. Cornick, the F.B.I. counterterrorism specialist who worked on the Letelier case, said in an interview that both bombings were planned at a June 1976 meeting in Santo Domingo attended by, among others, Mr. Posada.
"The Cubana bomb went off, the people were killed, and there were tracks leading right back to Disip," said Mr. Cornick, who is now retired.
"The information was so strong that they locked up Posada as a preventative measure - to prevent him from talking or being killed. They knew that he had been involved," said Mr. Cornick, referring to the Venezuelan authorities. "There was no doubt in anyone's mind, including mine, that he was up to his eyeballs" in the Cubana bombing.
A November 1976 F.B.I. report, based on the word of a trusted Cuban-American informer, Ricardo Morales, places Mr. Posada at two meetings where the Cubana bombing was plotted. It quotes the informer directly: "If Posada Carriles talks," it says, "the Venezuelan government will 'go down the tube.' " The document was obtained from government files by the National Security Archive, a private research group in Washington.
Mr. Posada has always denied that he had a role in the bombing. But he was detained by the Venezuelan government for almost nine years in the case - never formally convicted, never fully acquitted. Finally, in 1985, he escaped his minimum-security confines.
He found work in El Salvador as a quartermaster for the contras, the rebels fighting the Nicaraguan government, whose mission was financed by the C.I.A. and Lt. Col. Oliver L. North of the National Security Council. After that covert operation was exposed in 1986, Mr. Posada landed in Guatemala, working as a government intelligence officer. In 1990, he was nearly killed in Guatemala by gunmen who he has said he suspected were sent by Mr. Castro.
After a slow recovery, Mr. Posada, by his own admission, ran a string of operatives on a series of missions to blow up Cuban people and places. Mr. Posada spoke to The New York Times seven years ago, boasting of what was then his latest exploit, a string of bombings at Havana's hottest tourist spots that terrorized the city and killed an Italian visitor.
Then in November 2000, he traveled to Panama, accompanied by Guillermo Novo, whose conviction in the Letelier bombing had been overturned on appeal; Gaspar Jiménez, convicted of trying to kidnap a Cuban diplomat in Mexico in 1977; and Pedro Remón, convicted of the attempted murder of Cuba's ambassador to the United Nations in 1980.
The moment Mr. Castro arrived in Panama for an international conference, he accused Mr. Posada of plotting against his life. Mr. Posada was seized, along with his three colleagues and 33 pounds of the plastic explosive C-4. Despite Mr. Posada's protest that the case was a sting set up by the Cuban spy service, he received an eight-year sentence in April 2004 for endangering public safety.
Eight months ago, in her last week in office, President Mireya Moscoso of Panama pardoned the men. She cited humanitarian grounds. Ms. Moscoso, who has long had a home in Key Biscayne, has strong social ties to Cuban conservatives in South Florida, said Mr. Durán, the Bay of Pigs veteran.
Her successor, Martín Torrijos, criticized the pardon at his inauguration, saying, "For me, there are not two classes of terrorism, one that is condemned and another that is pardoned."
Mr. Posada left Panama City and flew to San Pedro Sula, Honduras, bearing a false American passport, according to President Ricardo Maduro, who publicly denounced him.
Mr. Posada left Honduras in a hurry. Mr. Castro said in a recent speech that Mr. Posada then went to the Mexican resort Isla Mujeres and arrived in Florida on a boat owned by a Cuban-American developer in Miami. The Cuban leader offered no proof.
If Mr. Posada wants asylum, "there will come a time when he will have to come out of the dark," Mr. Durán said. "At that point, he could be arrested for illegal entry." But in the present political climate, "the only place he's safe is here - even if he's in jail."
LUIS POSADA CARRILES
THE DECLASSIFIED RECORD
CIA and FBI Documents Detail Career in International Terrorism;
Connection to U.S.
National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 153
For more information contact
Peter Kornbluh - 202/994-7116
Washington D.C. May 10, 2005 - Declassified CIA and FBI records posted today on the Web by the National Security Archive at George Washington University identify Cuban exile Luis Posada Carriles, who is apparently in Florida seeking asylum, as a former CIA agent and as one of the "engineer[s]" of the 1976 terrorist bombing of Cubana Airlines flight 455 that killed 73 passengers.
The documents include a November 1976 FBI report on the bombing cited in yesterday's New York Times article "Case of Cuban Exile Could Test the U.S. Definition of Terrorist," CIA trace reports covering the Agency's recruitment of Posada in the 1960s, as well as the FBI intelligence reporting on the downing of the plane. The Archive also posted a second FBI report, dated one day after the bombing, in which a confidential source "all but admitted that Posada and [Orlando] Bosch had engineered the bombing of the airline." In addition, the posting includes several documents relating to Bosch and his suspected role in the downing of the jetliner on October 6, 1976.
Using a false passport, Posada apparently snuck into the United States in late March and remains in hiding. His lawyer announced that Posada is asking the Bush administration for asylum because of the work he had done for the Central Intelligence Agency in the 1960s. The documents posted today include CIA records confirming that Posada was an agent in the 1960s and early 1970s, and remained an informant in regular contact with CIA officials at least until June 1976.
In 1985, Posada escaped from prison in Venezuela where he had been incarcerated after the plane bombing and remains a fugitive from justice. He went directly to El Salvador, where he worked, using the alias "Ramon Medina," on the illegal contra resupply program being run by Lt. Col. Oliver North in the Reagan National Security Council. In 1998 he was interviewed by Ann Louise Bardach for the New York Times at a secret location in Aruba, and claimed responsibility for a string of hotel bombings in Havana during which eleven people were injured and one Italian businessman was killed. Most recently he was imprisoned in Panama for trying to assassinate Fidel Castro in December 2000 with 33 pounds of C-4 explosives. In September 2004, he and three co-conspirators were suddenly pardoned, and Posada went to Honduras. Venezuela is now preparing to submit an official extradition request to the United States for his return.
According to Peter Kornbluh, who directs the Archive's Cuba Documentation Project, Posada's presence in the United States "poses a direct challenge to the Bush administration's terrorism policy. The declassified record," he said, "leaves no doubt that Posada has been one of the world's most unremitting purveyors of terrorist violence." President Bush has repeatedly stated that no nation should harbor terrorists, and all nations should work to bring individuals who advocate and employ the use of terror tactics to justice. During the Presidential campaign last year Bush stated that "I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world." Although Posada has reportedly been in the Miami area for more than six weeks, the FBI has indicated it is not actively searching for him.
Note: The following documents are in PDF format.
You will need to download and install the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view.
THE CIA CONNECTION
Luis Posada Carriles had a long relationship with the CIA. In February 1961, he joined the CIA's Brigade 2506 to invade Cuba, although the ship to which he was assigned never landed at the Bay of Pigs. While in the U.S. military between 1963 and 1965 the CIA recruited him and trained him in demolitions; he subsequently became a trainer of other paramilitary exile forces in the mid 1960s. CIA documents posted below reveal that he was terminated as an asset in July 1967, but then reinstated four months later and apparently remained an asset until 1974. The documents also show that he remained in contact with the Agency until June 1976, only three months before the plane bombing.
Document 1: CIA, October 13, 1976, Report, "Traces on Persons Involved in 6 Oct 1976 Cubana Crash."
In the aftermath of the bombing of Cubana flight 455, the CIA ran a file check on all names associated with the terror attack. In a report to the FBI the Agency stated that it had no association with the two Venezuelans who were arrested. A section on Luis Posada Carriles was heavily redacted when the document was declassified. But the FBI retransmitted the report three days later and that version was released uncensored revealing Posada's relations with the CIA.
Document 2: FBI, October 16, 1976, Retransmission of CIA Trace Report
In this uncensored version of the CIA trace report, the Agency admits that it "had a relationship with one person whose name has been mentioned in connection with the reported bombing," Luis Posada Carriles. The CIA file check shows that Posada was "a former agent of CIA." Although it doesn't say when his employment began, it indicates he was terminated briefly in the summer of 1967 but then reinstated in the fall and continued as an asset while a high level official in the Venezuelan intelligence service, DISIP, until 1974. Even then, "occasional contact with him" continued until June 1976.
Document 3: CIA, June 1966, File search on Luis "Pozada"
In this file search the CIA states that Posada has "been of operational interest to this Agency since April 1965," the likely date when he first became a paid CIA agent.
Document 4: FBI, July 18, 1966, "Cuba"
An informant reports to the FBI that Posada is a CIA agent and is "receiving approximately $300.00 per month from CIA."
Document 5: CIA, April 17, 1972, Personal Record Questionnaire on Posada
This "PRQ" was compiled in 1972 at a time Posada was a high level official at the Venezuelan intelligence service, DISIP, in charge of demolitions. The CIA was beginning to have some concerns about him, based on reports that he had taken CIA explosives equipment to Venezuela, and that he had ties to a Miami mafia figure named Lefty Rosenthal. The PRQ spells out Posada's personal background and includes his travel to various countries between 1956 and 1971. It also confirms that one of his many aliases was "Bambi Carriles."
EARLY TERRORIST PLOTTING
During the time that Posada was on the CIA payroll in the mid-1960s, he participated in a number of plots that involved sabotage and explosives. FBI reporting recorded some of Posada's earliest activities, including his financial ties to Jorge Mas Canosa, who would later become head of the powerful anti-Castro lobby, the Cuban American National Foundation.
Document 6: FBI, July 7, 1965, "Luis Posada Carriles"
The FBI transmits information obtained from the CIA's Mexico station titled "Intention of Cuban Representation in Exile (RECE) to Blow up a Cuban or Soviet Vessel in Veracruz, Mexico." The document summarizes intelligence on a payment that Jorge Mas Canosa, then the head of RECE, has made to Luis Posada to finance a sabotage operation against ships in Mexico. Posada reportedly has "100 pounds of C-4 explosives and detonators" and limpet mines to use in the operation.
Document 7: FBI, July 13, 1965, "Cuban Representation in Exile (RECE)"
A FBI cable reports on intelligence obtained from "MM T-1" (a code reference to the CIA) on a number of RECE terrorist operations, including the bombing of the Soviet library in Mexico City. The document contains information on payments from Jorge Mas Canosa to Luis Posada for an operation to bomb ships in the port of Veracruz, as well as a description of Posada and a statement he gave to the FBI in June of 1964.
Document 8: FBI, May 17, 1965, "Roberto Alejos Arzu; Luis Sierra Lopez, Neutrality Matters, Internal Security-Guatemala"
The FBI links Posada to a major plot to overthrow the government of Guatemala. U.S. Customs agents force Posada and other co-conspirators to turn over a cache of weapons that are listed in this document. The weapons include napalm, 80 pounds of C-4 explosives, and 28 pounds of C-3 explosives.
BOMBING OF CUBANA FLIGHT 455
Document 9: FBI, October 7, 1976, Secret Intelligence Report, "Suspected Bombing of Cubana Airlines DC-8 Near Barbados"
In one of the very first reports on the October 6, 1976, downing of Cubana Flight 455, the FBI Venezuelan bureau cables that a confidential source has identified Luis Posada and Orlando Bosch as responsible for the bombing. "The source all but admitted that Posada and Bosch had engineered the bombing of the airline," according to the report. The report appears to indicate that the Venezuelan secret police, DISIP, were arranging for Bosch and Posada to leave Caracas, although this section of the document has been censored.
In the report, the FBI identifies two Venezuelan suspects arrested in Barbados: Freddy Lugo and Jose Vazquez Garcia. Vazquez Garcia is an alias for Hernan Ricardo Lozano. Both Ricardo and Lugo worked for Luis Posada's private security firm in Caracas at the time of the bombing.
Document 10: FBI, November 2, 1976, Secret Intelligence Report "Bombing of Cubana Airlines DC-8 Near Barbados, West Indies, October 6, 1976"
The FBI receives information from a source who has spoken with Ricardo Morales Navarrete, a Cuban exile informant working for DISIP in Caracas. Known as "Monkey" Morales, he tells the FBI source of two meetings during which plotting for the plane bombing took place: one in the Hotel Anauco Hilton in Caracas, and another in Morales room at the Hilton. Both meetings were attended by Posada Carriles. A key passage of the report quotes Morales as stating that "some people in the Venezuelan government are involved in this airplane bombing, and that if Posada Carriles talks, then Morales Navarrete and others in the Venezuelan government will 'go down the tube.' He said that if people start talking 'we'll have our own Watergate.'" Morales also states that after the plane went down, one of the men who placed the bomb aboard the jet called Orlando Bosch and reported: "A bus with 73 dogs went off a cliff and all got killed."
Document 11: FBI, November 3, 1976, Cable, "Bombing of Cubana Airlines DC-8 Near Barbados, West Indies, October 6, 1976"
The FBI reports on arrest warrants issued by a Venezuelan judge for Posada, Bosch, Freddy Lugo and Ricardo Lozano.
ORLANDO BOSCH AND ANTI-CASTRO TERRORIST ORGANIZATIONS
Document 12: FBI, January 24, 1977, Secret Report, "Coordination of United Revolutionary Organizations (CORU) Neutrality Matters - Cuba - (Anti-Castro)"
The FBI reports on a plot to carry out terrorist attacks that will divert attention from the prosecution of Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada in Caracas. Orders for the attacks are attributed to Orlando Garcia Vazquez, a Cuban exile who was then head of the Venezuelan intelligence service, DISIP. (Garcia Vazquez currently lives in Miami.) The report also provides some details on CORU.
Document 13: FBI, August 16, 1978, Secret Report, "Coordinacion de Organizaciones Revolucionarias Unidas (Coordination of United Revolutionary Organizations) (CORU), Neutrality Matters - Cuba - (Anti-Castro)"
This FBI report provides a comprehensive overview of CORU which the FBI describes as "an anti-Castro terrorist umbrella organization" headed by Orlando Bosch. The report records how CORU was created at a secret meeting in Santo Domingo on June 11, 1976, during which a series of bombing attacks were planned, including the bombing of a Cubana airliner. On page 6, the report relates in great detail how Orlando Bosch was met in Caracas on September 8, 1976, by Luis Posada and other anti-Castro exiles and a deal was struck as to what kind of activities he could organize on Venezuelan soil. The document also contains substantive details on behind-the-scene efforts in Caracas to obtain the early release of Bosch and Posada from prison.
IRAN-CONTRA AND POSADA (A.K.A. RAMON MEDINA)
Document 14: September 2, 1986, Contra re-supply document, [Distribution of Warehoused Contra Weapons and Equipment - in Spanish with English translation]
After bribing his way out of prison in Venezuela in September 1985, Posada went directly to El Salvador to work on the illicit contra resupply operations being run by Lt. Col. Oliver North. Posada assumed the name "Ramon Medina," and worked as a deputy to another anti-Castro Cuban exile, Felix Rodriguez, who was in charge of a small airlift of arms and supplies to the contras in Southern Nicaragua. Rodriguez used the code name, Max Gomez. This document, released during the Congressional investigation into the Iran-Contra operations, records both Posada and Rodriguez obtaining supplies for contra troops from a warehouse at Illopango airbase in San Salvador.
[To hear what Galloway really said and how he said it please go to http://hsgac.senate.gov/audio_video/051705video.ram and start at about 1 hour 58 minutes. I like this guy. If more of us could learn to respond, think and act this way we might really start to be heard. He’s not the first leader to show true courage. Cynthia McKinney and Andreas von Bülow deserve that honor. But George Galloway took the field at the right moment. He took it by not running away. – MCR]
British MP denies oil-for-food charges
Called the probe the 'mother of all smokescreens'
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- British Member of Parliament George Galloway angrily denied Tuesday that he profited from Saddam Hussein's regime and criticized a Senate panel probing alleged corruption in the U.N. oil-for-food program in Iraq.
Galloway, an outspoken critic of the war in Iraq, called the panel's investigation the "mother of all smokescreens" used to divert attention from the "pack of lies" that led to the 2003 invasion.
"I told the world that Iraq, contrary to your claims, did not have weapons of mass destruction. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to al Qaeda. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to the atrocity on 9/11, 2001," he told the panel's Republican chairman, Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota.
"Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong. And 100,000 people have paid with their lives -- 1,600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies, 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled forever, on a pack of lies."
He added, "Senator, this is the mother of all smokescreens. You are trying to divert attention from the crimes that you supported."
Galloway's appearance Tuesday before the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee was the first by an official allegedly involved in the scandal.
In a report last week, the subcommittee stated that deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein granted Galloway vouchers for 20 million barrels of oil between 2000 and 2003.
He strongly disputed that allegation Tuesday.
"I am not now or ever been an oil trader and neither has anyone on my behalf. I have never seen a barrel of oil, owned one, bought one, sold one, and neither has anybody on my behalf," Galloway testified.
He also said he did not own a company that trades in oil.
"If you had any evidence of that I had ever engaged in any actual oil transaction, if you had any evidence that anybody ever gave me any money, it would be before the public and before this" committee today, Galloway said.
Coleman, a former district attorney, told Galloway before his sworn testimony that "senior Iraqi officials have confirmed that you, in fact, received oil allocations and that the documents that identify you as an allocation recipient are valid."
Galloway challenged that accusation in his opening statement.
"Now, I know that standards have slipped over the last few years in Washington, but for a lawyer, you're remarkably cavalier with any idea of justice," he told Coleman.
Galloway, 51, is a leading critic of British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his alliance with President Bush in the war in Iraq. He was re-elected on an antiwar platform earlier this month.
He said he was "friendly" with former Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz and met him many times but that he met with Saddam only twice in his career -- in 1994 and in 2002 -- the last time to persuade Saddam to allow U.N. weapons inspectors into the country.
He said he had met with Saddam "exactly as many times as Donald Rumsfeld has met with him."
"The difference is Donald Rumsfeld met him to sell him guns and give him maps," Galloway said in a heated opening statement.
"I met him to try and bring about an end to sanctions, suffering and war, and on the second occasion, I met him to try and persuade him to allow Hans Blix and U.N. inspectors back into country,"
Rumsfeld visited Baghdad to meet Saddam as President Reagan's Middle East envoy in the 1980s, when the U.S. sided with Iraq in its war with Iran. Blix was chief U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq before the war.
Galloway complained that the panel had determined his guilt without speaking to him.
"You have my name on lists provided to you... by the convicted bank robber and fraudster and con man Ahmed Chalabi, who many people, to their credit, in your country now realize played a decisive role in leading your country into the disaster in Iraq," Galloway told the Senate panel.
Other allegations reportedly came from Iraqi detainees.
"In these circumstances, knowing what the world knows about how you treat prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison, in Bagram Air Base [Afghanistan], in Guantanamo Bay -- including, if I may say, British citizens being held in those places -- I'm not sure how much credibility anyone would put on anything you manage to get from a prisoner in those circumstances," he said.
The Senate subcommittee has alleged in recent days that a number of European politicians were rewarded by Saddam for supporting Iraq's bid to lift economic sanctions imposed after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990.
The subcommittee report, relying on Iraqi Oil Ministry documents and interviews with detained Saddam loyalists, alleged that Galloway received allocations for 20 million barrels from June 2000 to June 2003 and arranged for two companies, Aredio Petroleum-France and Middle East Advanced Semiconductor Inc., to take delivery of the crude.
Galloway said he never heard of Aredio, but confirmed that the president of Middle East ASI, Jordanian businessman named Fawaz Zureikat, was a good friend and the second-biggest benefactor of a British charity he started called Mariam's Appeal.
Zureikat donated about $600,000. A British probe of the charity "found no impropriety" in fund-raising, Galloway said.
"He may have signed an oil contract. It had nothing to do with me," Galloway said. "I was aware he was doing extensive business with Iraq. I did not know the details of it. It was not my business."
In addition to Galloway, the panel also implicated former French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua, who allegedly was allocated 11 million barrels.
"I wrote to Mr. Coleman," Pasqua said Sunday, "and I told him that all allegations about myself are false."
Russian Deputy Parliament Speaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who was accused Monday of receiving 76 million barrels of Iraqi crude oil, denied the accusation.
"I've never signed any contract and never received a cent from Iraq," Zhirinovsky told a Russian TV interviewer.
Oil ended up in U.S.
The panels seem to agree that three-quarters of the oil Iraq was permitted to export under oil-for-food ended up in the United States, though U.S. firms directly purchased less than 1 percent of the crude.
A new report from Democrats on the Senate subcommittee concludes the United States ended up with a majority of the oil lifted from Iraq after vendors paid illicit surcharges of 10 cents to 30 cents a barrel to Saddam.
Investigators have estimated Saddam pocketed at least $2 billion by extorting the surcharges and kickbacks on humanitarian goods purchased.
While oil-for-food was operating from 1996 to 2003, Saddam got to choose the buyers of 3.4 billion barrels of oil that sold for $64 billion.
The oil revenue went into a U.N.-controlled bank account that doled out money for U.N.-approved sales of food, medicine and supplies to Iraq.
The illicit surcharges were typically wired into Iraq-controlled bank accounts in Lebanon, Oman and an Iraqi-front company in the United Arab Emirates, or paid in cash to Iraqi embassies and flown to Baghdad.
Of the $228 million in surcharged oil, the Democratic report found the United States imported 525 million barrels, or 52 percent of it.
Among the biggest end users of this oil were Valero, Premcor, Alon USA, and Exxon, according to the report.
CNN's Phil Hirschkorn contributed to this report.
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.