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Daily Column
US Papers Sat: Obama ties to Iraqi criminal?
Some election-related Iraq coverage, and not much else.
By DANIEL W. SMITH 08/30/2008 01:55 AM ET
After yesterday’s varied turnout of Iraq coverage, there’s barely a word today. In all the articles about Senator John McCain’s surprise running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin, it is speculated that one of the reasons for her being chosen is that she has an 18 year old son who is enlisted in the army, and will soon ship off to Iraq. Other than that, there’s slim pickins indeed. The one offering that is Iraq-related enough to include is an opinion piece, also having to do with a candidate in the upcoming U.S. presidential election. This one isn’t so positive.

Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund writes a piece from Denver called “Obama Should Come Clean On Ayers, Rezko and the Iraqi Billionaire”, in which he complains about the Obama campaign not readily releasing information in answer to questions about his past whose answers could be damaging to his chances of being elected president. At this week’s Democratic National Convention, Fund stated that he “had no trouble finding reporters who complained the campaign was secretive and evasive”. This was in response to, firstly, Sen. Obama's association with William Ayers, the unrepentant 1970s Weather Underground terrorist.
Then there's the house that Mr. Obama bought in 2005 in cooperation with Tony Rezko, his friend and campaign fund-raiser -- a move the candidate concedes was "boneheaded." Rezko was convicted in June of 16 counts of corruption.
Fund continues, asking...
How did Mrs. Rezko make a $125,000 down payment and obtain a $500,000 mortgage when financial records shown at the Rezko trial indicate she had a salary of only $37,000 and assets of $35,000? Records show her husband also had few assets at the time.
It gets complicated, and since there’s nothing else today, I’ll just keep quoting.
Last April, the London Times revealed that Nadhmi Auchi, an Iraqi-born billionaire living in London, had loaned Mr. Rezko $3.5 million three weeks before the day the sale of the house and lot closed in June 2005. Mr. Auchi's office notes he was a business partner of Rezko but says he had "no involvement in or knowledge of" the property sale. But in April 2004 he did attend a dinner party in his honor at Rezko's Chicago home. Mr. Obama also attended, and according to one guest, toasted Mr. Auchi. Later that year, Mr. Auchi came under criminal investigation as part of a U.S. probe of the corrupt issuance of cell-phone licenses in Iraq. In May 2004, the Pentagon's inspector general's office cited "significant and credible evidence" of involvement by Mr. Auchi's companies in the Oil for Food scandal, and in illicit smuggling of weapons to Saddam Hussein's regime. Because of the criminal probe, Mr. Auchi's travel visa to the U.S. was revoked in August 2004, even as Mr. Auchi denied all the allegations. According to prosecutors, in November 2005 Rezko was able to get two government officials from Illinois to appeal to the State Department to get the visa restored. Asked if anyone in his office was involved in such an appeal, Mr. Obama told the Chicago Sun-Times last March, "not that I know of." FOIA requests to the State Department for any documents haven't been responded to for months.

Washington Post, no Iraq coverage.
Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, no Saturday editions.

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