A new intelligence report on the search for Iraq's illicit weapons lists hundreds of individuals and companies who, before the U.S. invasion last year, received vouchers from Saddam Hussein to purchase Iraqi oil at below-market prices, officials familiar with the report said.
The 1,400-page report by Central Intelligence Agency weapons inspector Charles Duelfer, which is scheduled to be made public Wednesday, doesn't reach a conclusion about whether use of the vouchers violated international sanctions or an individual country's laws. But it asserts that Mr. Hussein personally managed the effort and used some of the proceeds, which exceeded $1 billion in 2002, for illegal-weapons procurement, the officials said.
The report names entities in France, Russia, Poland and other countries as involved in the voucher scheme or in assisting Iraq's prewar procurement activities. Officials wouldn't say if U.S. companies or individuals were implicated.
Let's go out on a small limb here. The haze of uncertainty whether US companies or individuals are implicated in the scheme seems to imply that they are. Since the report is being issued Wednesday, and it's unclear if US companies or individuals were implicated, what are the chances that someone in the energy-industry-rich White House will be connected to the scheme? And isn't it odd that Cheney, who will undoubtedly be called upon to defend his cronyoid connections to the energy industry in this evening's debate, will not be forced to publicly address the content of this new report?