Back in August, John McCain tried to make an issue out of the fact that one of Barack Obama’s foreign policy advisers, former U.S. ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer, had attended a legal conference in Damascus in July. The attempt never went anywhere — in addition to being a total non-story charge, the geniuses working for McCain fumbled the press call by hanging up on a reporter who was asking inconvenient questions about the lobbying work of various McCain staffers and surrogates.
Today, the Huffington Post’s Murray Waas reports that one of those staffers, William Timmons, the Washington lobbyist heading up McCain’s presidential transition team, “aided an influence effort on behalf of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to ease international sanctions against his regime“:
The two lobbyists who Timmons worked closely with over a five year period on the lobbying campaign later either pleaded guilty to or were convicted of federal criminal charges that they had acted as unregistered agents of Saddam Hussein’s government.
During the same period beginning in 1992, Timmons worked closely with the two lobbyists, Samir Vincent and Tongsun Park, on a previously unreported prospective deal with the Iraqis in which they hoped to be awarded a contract to purchase and resell Iraqi oil. Timmons, Vincent, and Park stood to share at least $45 million if the business deal went through.
Timmons’ activities occurred in the years following the first Gulf War, when Washington considered Iraq to be a rogue enemy state and a sponsor of terrorism.
Waas also reports that “proposals that Timmons himself circulated to U.S. officials as part of the effort were written with the assistance of…Iraqi officials, and were also sent ahead of time with Timmons’ approval to [Saddam Hussein’s Deputy Prime Minister Tariq] Aziz.” Interestingly, a few years after Timmons worked with Iraqi officials to implement U.S. legislation to ease sanctions on Saddam Hussein, McCain foreign policy adviser Randy Scheunemann worked with Iraqi exiles to implement U.S. legislation to remove Saddam Hussein. Now that’s diversity!