Selective memory plagues Deputy PM

THE Cole inquiry into the oil-for-food scandal embroiling AWB has called some political high-flyers into question over their involvement in paying $300 million in kickbacks to Saddam Hussein’s regime, with Deputy Prime Minister Mark Vaile the latest under the microscope. Mr Vaile testified for 85 minutes this week during an examination into his ministerial actions to defend AWB. He stated 21 times that he had no recollection of receiving or reading a series of cables between 2000 and 2004 that warned of kickbacks involving AWB. Mr Downer also appeared before the inquiry stating he had a "very distant recollection" of a telephone conversation in 2005 with AWB’s former managing director Andrew Lindberg allegedly regarding Alia, the trucking company partly owned by the Iraqi government. Prime Minister John Howard has been asked to provide a sworn statement over the extent of his knowledge of the affair to the inquiry.

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