Hussein Funded Hill Junket to Iraq Before War
Thursday, March 27, 2008
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, federal prosecutors said yesterday.
The antiwar Democrats made the trip in October 2002, while the Bush administration was trying to persuade Congress to authorize military action. While traveling, they called for a diplomatic solution.
Prosecutors say that trip was arranged by Muthanna al-Hanooti, a Michigan charity official, who was charged yesterday with setting up the junket for Hussein's government. Iraqi intelligence officials allegedly paid for the trip through an intermediary and rewarded Hanooti with 2 million barrels of oil.
The lawmakers are not named in the indictment, but the dates correspond to a trip by Reps. Jim McDermott (Wash.) and Mike Thompson (Calif.) and then-Rep. David E. Bonior (Mich.). None was charged, and Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said investigators "have no information whatsoever" that any of them knew the trip was underwritten by Hussein.