Cowardly behaviour at the Cole enquiry: C'mon surprise me!
Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer has begun giving evidence to the oil-for-food inquiry in Sydney. Mr Downer has said he does not have any specific recollection about seeing many critical cables about rorts of the oil-for-food program. His statement, just tendered to the inquiry, repeats that statement many times. Given the list of departmental cables relating to allegations against AWB, he has written: "I don't have any specific recollection of having received or read this cable." Often it adds: "I don't consider it was likely to be judged sufficiently pressing or critical to be shown to me." Mr Downer says he was generally aware of the allegations, but not aware of any intelligence on allegations against the grains trader. He says he would have expected his department to investigate allegations about money from contracts going to the Middle East and contracts being inflated to pay kickbacks.Bastard.
John Howard has a real opportunity. Both Vaile and Downer now look tremendously incompetent and it dramatically reduces my opinion of their ability to lead. Leadership demands that you don't make assumptions that your staff should have told you when something important was afoot. After all, you as the leader, are fully aware of anything important that's afoot. Leadership demands that when a mistake has been made you accept responsibility for it. Real leadership also demands that when innocent people have been wronged, you tell the truth about it.
John Howard, you have an opportunity to shock me here and demonstrate true leadership, which neither Vaile or Downer could.
Note: I posted on this topic back in November, and if anything I'm madder about it now than then. At that point, I didn't fully comprehend how the money channelled to Saddam was sourced straight from the capite censi of Iraq (from their Oil-For-Food funds). Supporting the evil dictator guy is one thing. Stealing from the people with whom we apparently went to war to rid of their evil dictator is another thing!
Update: In case you didn't already see it, Tim D spotted a incredible yet cringe-worthy slip of the tongue on the part of Downer: "I rarely — er... I mean really — read the cables from New York". Really?
Update: In case you were wondering, Howard completely failed to surprised us when he spoke to the commission on this too.
Categorised as: politics
Technorati Tags: Australian politics, Alexander Downer, Mark Vaile, John Howard, Cole Inquiry, Oil-for-food scandal, leadership