Hannity, Watts falsely implicated German chancellor in oil-for-food scandal
Research ››› ››› ANDREW SEIFTER
Without any evidence, FOX News host Sean Hannity and former U.S. Representative J.C. Watts (R-OK) accused German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder of corruption in connection with the United Nations oil-for-food scandal. Hannity decried Germany's role in "one of the biggest financial scandals ... in the history of the world," but former U.N. arms inspector Charles A. Duelfer's comprehensive report on Iraq's weapons programs indicates that German individuals and companies received no more than 3 percent of Iraqi oil vouchers. Therefore, Germans likely profited no more (and possibly less) from the scandal than Americans did. And just as no American political officials were accused of wrongdoing in the Duelfer report, Schroeder was not implicated or even mentioned in the report.
Hannity and Watts also accused French President Jacques Chirac of similar wrongdoing regarding the Oil-for-Food Program. The Duelfer report noted that the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) sought to influence French individuals connected with Chirac, and also noted an unconfirmed report from an Iraqi official that one oil voucher recipient was Chirac's conduit. But the report did not allege that Chirac was directly involved or even aware of the corruption.
After Schroeder and Chirac announced their support for embattled U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, Hannity responded on the December 2 edition of FOX News' Hannity & Colmes, saying of the two leaders: "We're talking about one of the biggest financial scandals, on the humanitarian level of relief scandal, in the history of the world here. ... Isn't the culpability on their [Schroeder's and Chirac's] part? Aren't we discovering their connection to this, their corruption in all of this, and perhaps the reasons why they're so adamant against [President] George W. Bush as we were leading up to the [Iraq] war?" Watts replied that "there was a financial interest on their part, and that's why they got cold feet" about supporting the war in Iraq.
While Germany may have had significant financial interests in Iraq prior to the war, their financial interests in the oil-for-food scandal were minimal. On January 25, 2004, the Iraqi independent daily newspaper Al-Mada published an initial list of "approximately 270 individuals and entities who were beneficiaries of [former Iraqi dictator] Saddam Hussein's oil vouchers." No German individuals or companies were named in that list, and the list of oil voucher recipients that was included in the Duelfer report shows that Germans likely profited no more from the scandal than Americans did.
The Duelfer report's list (volume 1, annex B, p. 302) of all "Known Oil Voucher Recipients" includes each recipient's nationality, as well as a chart broken down by nationality (figure 16, p.166). The list indicates that 30 percent of the recipients were Russian; 15 percent were French; 10 percent were Chinese; 6 percent each were Swiss, Malaysian, and Syrian; and 4 percent each were Jordanian and Egyptian. American and German recipients were included in the approximate 20 percent of "recipients from other nations." The report did not quantify the exact percentage of German recipients, although it was no more than 3 percent. The nonpartisan Council on Foreign Relations noted in its analysis of the Duelfer report list that "U.S. companies and individuals received between 2 and 3 percent of the total vouchers -- some 111 million barrels out of a total of 4.1 billion." While the Duelfer report implicates hundreds of individuals and companies in the scandal, it clearly does not implicate Schroeder.
As Media Matters for America has noted, the Duelfer report named Patrick Maugein -- oil firm Soco International's chairman with ties to Chirac -- as a recipient of illicit oil vouchers from Saddam. Further, the report noted that the Iraqi Intelligence Service "targeted a number of French individuals that the Iraqis thought had close relations" to Chirac, "including, according to the Iraqi assessment, the official spokesman of President Chirac's re-election campaign, two reported 'counselors' of President Chirac, and two well-known French businessmen." The report also named former French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua among the voucher recipients. But the report does not allege that Chirac himself accepted bribes or was influenced by Saddam's apparent efforts to bribe his associates.