Sunday, August 21, 2005

More on Order 39

During my recent internet travels I came across some interesting background on Michael Meacher's article about Order 39, the law put in place by the US administration in Iraq to encourage foreign direct investment. I posted about how Meacher was playing fast and loose with the facts here.

It now appears that Meacher's claims are in fact far from original, being derived almost verbatim from an earlier piece by Naomi Klein. This was published in several different journals and was widely disseminated on the internet. The similarities between the key claims are striking.

Naomi Klein

Michael Meacher

On September 19, Bremer enacted the now infamous Order 39. It announced that 200 Iraqi state companies would be privatised; decreed that foreign firms can retain 100% ownership of Iraqi banks, mines and factories; and allowed these firms to move 100% of their profits out of Iraq.

Perhaps the most infamous was Order 39 which decreed that 200 Iraqi state companies would be privatised, that foreign companies could have complete control of Iraqi banks, factories and mines, and that these companies could transfer all of their profits out of Iraq.

Klein's piece seems to have been thoroughly debunked at the time - see for instance this piece from Australia's National Forum. While it is perhaps not surprising to find Michael Meacher spewing nonsense, one could at least expect that he might have the self-respect to spew original nonsense.

It is sad though that the Times has fallen so far that it allows the publication of this sort of thing.