Mon 12 Apr, 2004 06:34 pm
Here's the real scandal we should all be watching:
New York Post - April 12, 2004 -- Even as the elite media and other Bush- bashers fruitlessly scour musty memos for hints of White House culpability in the 9/11 attacks, more incriminating details are coming to light on the multibillion-dollar corruption of the United Nation's Iraq Oil-for-Food program - the biggest scandal in the world body's history.
And hardly anybody's paying any attention - a shame, because the U.N. and its backers are pushing for a major role in the administration of post-war Iraq.
In Washington, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee - following in the footsteps of the Iraqi Governing Council - last week began its own hearings on the giant scam.
The IGC had earlier hired top international accountants and lawyers to investigate powerful evidence found in Baghdad that Saddam Hussein used the program to reward sympathetic foreign politicians and companies - and that top U.N. officials, some of them on Saddam's take, turned a blind eye to kickbacks and sanctions-busting on a gargantuan scale.
And the U.S. General Accounting Office has estimated that Saddam skimmed as much as $10 billion from the $47 billion program.
It is not yet clear how much U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan knew about the shameful goings-on, including the extent to which program administrators collaborated with the Saddam regime and conspired in the defrauding of Iraqi Kurds.
But there is no doubt that Annan played a key role in setting the program up and appointed its chief administrator Benon Savan - whose name is reported to be on a list of untoward Oil-for-Food beneficiaries.
Last Wednesday, the Senate committee heard that Saddam had skimmed millions from Oil-for-Food by purchasing and reselling for profit some 37,000 automobiles - including luxury cars and SUVs.
Oil-for-Food's official purpose, of course, was to let Iraq sell oil and use the funds to buy food and humanitarian goods like medicine.
Instead, and with the knowledge of U.N. officials, the money went for all kinds of non-humanitarian purchases, including building palaces, buying arms and bribing foreign politicians and opinion-makers.
And when food and genuine humanitarian goods were bought through the program, it was often at vastly inflated prices, with much of the excess being kicked back to high-ranking officials of the now-defunct Saddam regime.
Note that France and Russia were the biggest recipients of Oil-for-Food largesse. As Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) pointed out last week, "The corruption . . . almost certainly contributed to the international division over containing and ultimately ousting Saddam Hussein."
Before anyone even considers giving the United Nations real power in Iraq (or anywhere else, for that matter), the world must find out the full extent of the Oil-for-Food scandal.
Plus, what Kofi Annan knew - and when he knew it.
It all should make much more interesting reading than barely relevant presidential briefing memos.
I know I heard this--but I don't know if the source is reputable.
Was Annan's son placed in a position of authority over this Oil for Food program?
Annan fired someone. I'll try to retrieve some facts.
This will be researched.
If you hadn't added that last little Right Wing sarcasm the post would have been recieved a bit more positively.
"Here is the scandal we should be watching" is right wing sarcasm? It's the title of the op-ed piece I posted...
And the last line was part of the op-ed piece. I didn't add it.
Wash Po--Pretty in your face, but dated.
Will look for something more recent.
Even as the elite media and other Bush- bashers
Sheesh...when sentence one begins as above...you really gotta stop reading that rag. Or at least look at ownership (psst...he was Canadian until he decided an aristocratic title was more befitting...not the least elitist, this fellow)
Follow-Up To Kofigate
By WILLIAM SAFIRE (NYT) 723 words
Late Edition - Final , Section A , Page 21 , Column 6
ABSTRACT - William Safire Op-Ed column on United Nations' oil-for-food scandal in Iraq; says at least $5 billion in kickbacks went from corrupt contractors--many French and Russian--into pockets of Saddam Hussein and his thugs; says Secretary Gen Kofi Annan's son, Kojo, was on payroll of Swiss company thaat received UN contract to monitor and authenticate goods shipped to Iraq; says Annan, to calm uproar, seeks 'independent high-level inquiry' but France and Russia, Hussein's main prewar defenders, want no inquiry that they cannot control; hopes some embittered whistleblower will emerge to reveal entirety of scandal (M)
Maybe the 911 commission can check into it...
Blatham, it is legitimate to questian interpretation from a highly partisan source. It is short sighted I think to dismiss information even from a partisan source when the information can be colaborated by other sources. This story has been floating around for awhile now and the chorus of 'corruption and foul' is beginning to build.
If the allegations are true, it certainly could explain why Germany and France were so reluctant to take out Saddam and also the tepid response from the U.N.
I don't dismiss it. That Sadaam would skim money seems about as obvious as the nose on Dyslexia's face. That UN officials, particularly Kofi Annan or his associates or family knew of or gained from this system is suggested a la smear, but not established.
Arguably, the IGC is not a very objective body at present, and statements from them are likely to be factually suspect. Certainly, we ought to be alert to the possibility.
As to the NY Post, how many pieces of commentary from any of their writers or editors over the last year have attacked the UN, and how many have spoken positively of the UN?
So, I'll wait for something rather more factual and credible, and with rather less innuendo and suggestion.