"Three U.S. Congressmen arrived in Baghdad this morning on a visit lasting several days. The delegation will hold several meetings with Iraqi officials and members of the Foreign Relations Committee at the National Assembly. They will also visit hospitals to see the suffering caused by the unjust embargo and the shortage of medicines and medical supplies. Congressman Jim McDermott told reporters upon arrival at Saddam International Airport that the delegation members reject the policy of aggression dominating the U.S. administration."
The video then showed McDermott talking, with a voiceover translation in Arabic. Here is what Arabic-speaking audiences heard from McDermott:
"We are three veterans of the Vietnam War who came over here because we don't want war. We assert from here that we do not want the United States to wage war on any peace-loving countries. As members of Congress, we would like diplomatic efforts to continue so as not to launch any aggression. We will visit children's hospitals to see the negative impact of the sanctions imposed on Iraq. We hope that peace will prevail throughout the world."
The three "Baghdad Democrats" were David Bonior, Jim McDermott, and Mike Thompson. And according to a federal indictment their trip was paid for by Saddam Hussein:
Federal prosecutors say Saddam Hussein's intelligence agency secretly financed a trip to Iraq for three U.S. lawmakers during the run-up to the U.S.-led invasion.
An indictment in Detroit accuses Muthanna Al-Hanooti of arranging for three members of Congress to travel to Iraq in October 2002 at the behest of Saddam's regime. Prosecutors say Iraqi intelligence officials paid for the trip through an intermediary.
In exchange, Al-Hanooti allegedly received 2 million barrels of Iraqi oil.
Al-Hanooti is a former official with the Muslim Charity Life for Relief and Development and ALSO the former head of the Detroit chapter of CAIR: a Muslim civil liberties and
advocacy group. CAIR’s vision is to promote justice and mutual
understanding. CAIR’s mission is based on 3 core goals – enhancing
understanding of Islam, promoting justice and empowering American
Muslims. Empowering them to do what?
The three Democrats claim they had no idea Hussein was paying for their propaganda trip. The intermediary was Shakir al Khafaji, Stephen F. Hayes reported in 2004:
On January 25, 2004, a daily newspaper in Iraq called al Mada published a list of individuals and organizations who it says received oil from the now-deposed regime. Among those listed is Shakir al Khafaji, an Iraqi-American from Detroit, who ran "Expatriate Conferences" for the regime in Baghdad. Al Khafaji also contributed $400,000 to the production of Scott Ritter's film "In Shifting Sands." Finally, al Khafaji arranged travel and financing for the "Baghdad Democrats"--Jim McDermott, Mike Thompson and David Bonior--last fall. Following the trip, al Khafaji contributed $5,000 to McDermott's Legal Defense Fund.
Why would a genocidal, pro-terrorist butcher, who hates America and everything it stands for, want to pay to have three American Congressmen flown over to his country?
Simple: because he obviously thought that they were useful idiots who were so morally deficient that they would boldly, publicly take his side against their own President and their own people while the world was watching.
Boy, did he have them pegged right.
The trip was inexcusable, regardless of who paid for it, but Saddam Hussein knew he would get his money's worth from these three tools. Fortunately Hussein is no match for our military and the "Baghdad Democrats" couldn't save him. Maybe his money would have been better spent finding himself a better spider hole.
Melanie Morgan has more on Mike Thompson who represents the First District of California here.