In 1993, President Clinton launched strikes on Saddam Hussein’s regime in response to Iraq’s alleged plot to assassinate former President Bush. At the time, Sen. John McCain staunchly supported striking Iraq:
I support the Presidents decision to launch this action against Iraq in response to Saddam Hussein’s failure to comply with United Nations resolutions. His continued failure to comply with international law merits a condemnation of the world and this decisive action by the world community.
It is thus particularly ironic that William Timmons, the Washington lobbyist who heads McCain’s presidential transition team, was involved in a lobbying effort on behalf of Saddam Hussein around the same time as Clinton launched strikes against Iraq “to ease international sanctions against his regime,” as Murray Waas reports today on The Huffington Post:
Talking points that Timmons produced for the lobbyists to help ease the sanctions, for example, were reviewed ahead of time by [Saddam aide Tariq] Aziz, [lobbyist Samir] Vincent testified in court. Proposals that Timmons himself circulated to U.S. officials as part of the effort were written with the assistance of the Iraqi officials, and were also sent ahead of time with Timmons’ approval to Aziz, other records show.
Beginning in 1992, Waas adds, 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.” On September 19, 1991, however, McCain said Iraqi oil revenue should “go to the people that need it”:
KING: But the U.N. did approve today his selling of oil. I think they’re going to let him sell a billion and a half dollars worth of oil this winter. Did that surprise you?
Sen. McCAIN: No. There are starving people in Iraq and the American people and people throughout the world want to make sure that children don’t die. The key to it, though, is to make sure that those revenues don’t go to Saddam Hussein but they go to the people that need it. That’s what we’ve got to make sure of.
The people who were supposed to receive the benefits of Iraq’s oil, however, ended up being people like Timmons. Did McCain know Timmons was “palling around” with Saddam’s friends?