British MP George Galloway Fights Back Against 'Fantastic Libel'

This is a partial transcript of The Big Story With John Gibson, June 20, 2003, that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order the complete transcript.

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JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO, FNC SENIOR JUDICIAL ANALYST: A member of the British parliament is accused of working for Saddam Hussein's regime, reportedly getting paid millions of dollars to promote Iraqi interests in the West. And there are papers to prove it. There's just one problem — the papers were forged. Now the Christian Science Monitor, one of the two papers that reported the story, is actually apologizing.

Member of Parliament George Galloway, the man involved in this mess, joins us live from London. And that's today's big question — why won't you accept the papers' apology, Mr. Galloway?

GEORGE GALLOWAY, BRITISH PARLIAMENT MEMBER: Because the checks that they have made now two months after the story appeared should have been made before they published the story. And if these basic journalistic practices had been followed, they would never have run such a fantastic libel on the front page of a story on sale in virtually every country in the world, on the front page, alleging that a British member of parliament took $10 million from one of world's worst dictatorships.

You can't get a more serious libel than that. Yet they didn't check anything about the documents, they didn't even telephone me for a comment before they ran the story. So, I can't accept now that they just shrug it off with a “sorry”. They're going to have to give me justice, and I'll chase them in every jurisdiction in which their paper is distributed until I get it.

NAPOLITANO: Have you, in fact, been paid anything by the Iraqi regime for any services whatsoever?

GALLOWAY: Not one thin dime. There were three sets of documents produced out of the smoking ruin of Baghdad, two of them have now been unmasked as forgeries. Fantastic lies. And the third one is equally fake, and it will soon meet the same fate. So, Saddam Hussein didn't make me a rich man, but who knows? Maybe these newspapers will in the libel courts.

NAPOLITANO: Who would do such a thing to you as to fake these documents, and fake these payments and cause a well-respected international publication like the Christian Science Monitor to publish these forgeries?

GALLOWAY: Well, it's quickly losing its respectability... It won't have much of a reputation left at the end of this. So, they'd be better to come to terms with me and quickly. But the question you raise is the big and the most important question, and I have today demanded that Tony Blair, who is one half of the co-occupation of Iraq, and who has responsibility for law and order in Iraq under the Geneva Conventions, to investigate this crime, this conspiracy which was hatched and executed in Baghdad against, if I may say so, a rather well-respected member of his own parliament.

NAPOLITANO: All right, you are a well-respected member of parliament. But are you suggesting that the prime minister is behind these forgeries?

GALLOWAY: No. No. Not at all. But he has a responsibility, because he is in co-occupation of Iraq, to get down to the general who gave the documents to the Christian Science Monitor and to interrogate him as to who he was working for. Who hatched this conspiracy? Who forged these documents? The fact that they're forged is no longer contested. So, who forged them? That's what I want to know.

NAPOLITANO: Mr. Galloway, is it true that you were, in fact, close to Saddam Hussein and did have ties to the dictator's regime?

GALLOWAY: Absolutely not. Absolutely not. I was demonstrating against the Saddam dictatorship when your government, Donald Rumsfeld, was over in Baghdad selling them guns and gas. I was demonstrating outside the Iraqi embassy in London. So don't try and hang Saddam Hussein on me. He's your guy, not mine.

NAPOLITANO: Is he alive or dead?

GALLOWAY: I think he is alive.

NAPOLITANO: Why do you think that?

GALLOWAY: I'm pretty sure that he's alive and I think that the Iraqi resistance is now taking its toll, I'm sorry to say, on the American forces. You've lost half as many people since the war ended as you did in the course of the whole war. Honestly, you've entered a quagmire here. It's Vietnam all over again, guys. You better get out of there before you lose any more people.

NAPOLITANO: Suppose we find the weapons of mass destruction, which a lot of us believe are there and will be found, does that vindicate our entrance into Iraq?

GALLOWAY: Well, some pigs just flew by the window here on the Brighton Sea front. Frankly, there are no weapons of mass destruction. There never were any weapons of mass destruction. John Kerry got it right, the Democratic contender the other day. Your president misled your people, our prime minister misled our people. The two of them committed a crime, but worse than a crime, a blunder, a blunder against the interests of your people and mine.

NAPOLITANO: But if you're wrong, if we find the weapons of mass destruction, if we find Saddam Hussein and he tells us where the weapons of mass destruction are, then, my dear friend, you have to admit we did the right thing, right?

GALLOWAY: My dear, there is a lot of "ifs" and "buts" in that, and politicians never usually agree to deal with one hypothetical, never mind a triple hypothetical. But I'm saying to you that Iraq was not a threat to anybody. That's self-evident. Not only did they not have weapons of mass destruction, they didn't even have weapons to hit helicopters and tanks that were invading their own capital city. Far from being a danger to anybody, they collapsed like a house of cards.

NAPOLITANO: Well, they did collapse like a house of cards. It remains to be seen if and when we find the weapons of mass destruction. Thank you, Mr. Galloway, for staying up late. Thanks for joining us tonight.

GALLOWAY: I appreciate that.

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