Oct. 25 - Last May British MP George Galloway scornfully challenged Sen. Norm Coleman to produce evidence that he had received oil vouchers from Saddam Hussein during the former's testimony before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations which at the time was investigating the U.N. Oil-for-Food Program. Well, the evidence been produced (Senate panel accuses British lawmaker) and the U.S. Department of Justice will be asked to consider charging Galloway with perjury and obstruction of congressional proceedings.
The British newspaper, the Daily Telegraph, proclaims Galloway's wife 'received £100,000 from Iraqis':
The Palestinian-born wife of George Galloway, the Respect MP, is accused today of receiving $149,980 (about £100,000) derived from the United Nations Iraqi oil-for-food programme.George Galloway had been scheduled to go on tour in the eastern U.S. with Jihad Jane and Cindy Sheehan but the trip was abrubtly cancelled last month.
A report by an investigative committee of the United States Senate says the money was sent to the personal account of Amineh Abu Zayyad in August 2000.
The report includes bank records showing a paper trail from Saddam's ministries to Mrs Galloway. It states that the Iraqis handed several lucrative oil-for-food contracts to the Jordanian businessman Fawaz Zureikat, an old friend of the Galloways. A month later, on Aug 3, 2000, Mr Zureikat allegedly paid $150,000 minus a bank commission of $20 from his Citibank account number 500190207 into Mrs Galloway's account at the Arab Bank in Amman.
The senate team also says that a $15,666 payment had been made on the same date to a Bank of Scotland account belonging to Mr Galloway's spokesman, Ron McKay. Last night Mr McKay said he had no recollection of the alleged payment.
Senate staff said at a press conference yesterday that they would send their report to Britain and Jordan for possible action against the Galloways and Mr Zureikat.
Oct. 23 - Seems the LA Times actually has a piece on the U.N. Oil-for-Food scandal, and I'm sure it's not solely because it was a Texas Tycoon Charged in Oil-for-Food Indictment.
The article says that
... Oscar S. Wyatt Jr., [aged 81,] the founder and former chairman of Coastal Corp., [whom] prosecutors in New York alleged ... had used secret bank accounts and other shadowy tactics to funnel millions of dollars to Hussein to obtain the right to pump millions of barrels of oil from Iraq between 2000 and 2003.The Swiss citizens alluded to above are "Catalina del Socorro Miguel Fuentes, also known as Cathy Miguel, and Mohammed Saidji, who prosecutors said operated the trading firms 'in close consultation with Wyatt.'"
Two Swiss business executives and three others who were first charged in April were also named in the indictment.
The indictment of Wyatt — a Texas wildcatter and political donor known for his sometimes flamboyant dealings with dictators — is the latest in a wide-ranging investigation into the oil-for-food program run by the U.N.
Wyatt has denied wrongdoing. ...
The indictment alleges that Wyatt and his associates lobbied the U.N. to set an official selling price for the oil they bought — a price that would allow them to pay the kickbacks allegedly demanded by Hussein and still make a profit. It alleges that Wyatt conspired in the scheme with David B. Chalmers [Jr.], the owner of another Houston oil company, Bayoil USA.
I find it perversely funny that a writer in LA would consider it bad that someone is a "political donor," and by the omission as to whom and what he donated, I wonder if he donated to the Democrats. If the allegations are correct, Wyatt was involved as late as 2003 which would tend to make one think he was anti-war, no?
The article also claims that Wyatt is "known for his sometimes flamboyant dealings with dictators" but the only thing offered to support that contention is that "[he] may be best known for using his corporate jet to rescue 21 Americans being held hostage by Hussein a month before the Persian Gulf War began."
Well researched article, dude, including the failure to note that Chalmers' correct name includes the appendage "Jr."
Personally, I'm all for throwing all the books at any American who is found to have partipated in Oil-for-Food kickback schemes, and I only wish we could also charge them with treason.
(Via Newsbeat1. Free registration may be required to read LA Times articles.)
Sept. 26 - Two items on the UN, one on oil-for-food and one on the lack of whistleblower protection in Canada have a common denominator: unasked questions.
From Fréchette's U.N. challenge (link via reader JM):
The oil-for-food report, by former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, said the U.N.'s systems for preventing mismanagement, corruption and communications gaps were "insufficient," and that Fréchette "knew but did not act upon" reports of major program violations.Now I'm not a journalist and I never went to journalism school so I could be wrong but wouldn't a real reporter ask about the "knew but did not act upon" part and perhaps even about the allegations that Fréchette actually blocked reports of corruption in OFF from coming before the Security Council? But no; the very next paragraph reads:
But, Volcker concluded, both Fréchette and Annan should be part of the effort to reform the world body, the task that the Montreal-born diplomat and public servant was appointed to do seven years ago, when faith in the U.N. leadership was high.M'kay. Faith in the U.N. leaderhsip was high when Fréchette was appointed and now, by implication, it's low. The logic of keeping Frechette on when it seems clear that she has failed to accomplish her appointed task escapes me, but I wonder if Ward is perhaps being deliberately ironic in that paragraph. Oh well, one can only hope.
Mansur speculates on the kind of speech Lester Pearson would have made:
The former PM and Nobel-Prize-winning diplomat would surely have told the UN that Canada, as a founding member, found intolerable the stain on the organization's reputation due to the corruption, ineptness, nepotism and mismanagement revealed by Paul Volcker's commission of inquiry into the Iraqi Oil-for-Food scandal.My reaction to Martin's speech superceded my usual reaction to vague platitudes and drivel because I was outraged that Martin of all the leaders gathered there would have the nerve to talk about reforms and financial accountability. I did note, however, that he talked about "three pillars," a rather clear lifting of Bush's Whitehall speech which also employed "three pillars" to explain U.S. foreign policy.
Pearson would surely have reminded the UN of his role in calling for global "partnership for development," and the necessary provision of assistance by rich countries to the poor. But he would also insist the UN cannot be trusted with increased funds unless full reform of its management practices occurred, and the UN secretariat became accountable and transparent.
His idealism was framed by realism, since he knew full well the perennial nature of evil. He would not have shirked taking responsibility for UN failure in Rwanda and the Balkans, and then in scolding member-states for their appalling disregard for the tragedy unfolding in Darfur.
Pearson would also, in my view, have made sure Canada stood firmly together with Britain and Australia as members of a great Commonwealth affirming U.S. President George Bush's message in New York on this same 60th anniversary occasion: "If member countries want the United Nations to be respected -- respected and effective -- they should begin by making sure it is worthy of respect."
Has anyone asked why Martin felt it necessary to plagiarize the president of the United States?
You should read the whole thing, but this is a CanCon post so I only excerpted this bit about the man said to be Paul Martin's mentor, Maurice Strong, from page 2 of the article:
Part of the problem is that Volcker has imposed on his inquiry the standards not of a prosecutor, but of an accountant. Faced with a pole too tall to measure by hand, he instead tells us its precise circumference on the ground, and lets it go at that. Much has been aired already of Volcker's account of Annan's strange and abiding ignorance of his own son's lively lobbying for U.N.-related business. So let us focus on another character, Annan's former special adviser Maurice Strong, longtime U.N. guru of good governance. (Strong did depart the United Nations this spring, but with Annan's office expressing fervent hopes he will soon return.)Not asking the right questions could be due to oversight or ineptitude, right? Right.
At some length, Volcker does the genuine service of laying out how Strong, in mid-1997, received a check for $988,885 made out to his name (a copy can be found on page 106, Volume II). The check was drawn on a Jordanian bank, funded by Saddam's regime, and delivered by Korean businessman Tongsun Park, who was a U.N. "back-channel" go-between with Saddam. Strong endorsed the check over to a third party to invest in a Strong family-controlled business, Cordex Petroleum. Interviewed by Volcker's team earlier this year, Strong said he did not recall receiving such a check. When shown a copy, he said he did not know the money came from Iraq. Volcker leaves the matter there, concluding that "the Committee has found no evidence that Mr. Strong was involved in Iraqi affairs, matters relating to the [Oil-for-Food] Programme or took any actions at the request of Iraqi officials."
But how hard did the Volcker committee look? In July 1997, the month before Strong cashed the Saddam-backed check, Annan was issuing his first U.N. reform program, reshaping the secretariat. Strong was the major architect of that reform, and was thanked profusely by Annan at the time for "his important contributions." A significant aspect of that reform was the consolidation of the then-new, ad hoc, and diffuse Iraq Oil-for-Food program into a single, more firmly entrenched office. This move tilted control of the daily administration of Oil-for-Food away from the Security Council and toward the secretariat. When the new, unified office set up shop three months later, in October 1997, Annan appointed Sevan as executive director. That marked the beginning of the stretch in which Sevan began taking bribes from Saddam, and the Oil-for-Food program, urged on by Annan, began to grow astronomically in size and scope. Lacking any disclosure of the secret U.N. paper trail that led to the creation of this office and its expanded mission, it is impossible to know whether Strong took a direct hand in setting up the office from which Sevan then, in effect, collaborated with Saddam. Perhaps Strong had nothing to do with it. But Volcker doesn't even ask the question.
The last item, Whistleblower fires back at Immigration and Refugee Board (link via Let It Bleed), concerns the dismissal of Selwyn Pieters, a man who had gone public with allegations of wrongdoing at the Immigration and Refugee Board:
In March 2004, Mr. Pieters complained to the Public Service Integrity Office that the politically appointed board members who are supposed to decide the fate of refugee claims were violating the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act by not writing their own decisions.The case is complicated by claims and counter-claims of racism, harassment and retaliation, but there is another issue posed because Mr. Pieters believes that dismissing his claim that the problems at the board are systemic was done prematurely:
The refugee protection officer also went to the media with his allegations that civil servants were the ones who were doing the decision-making.
Following a probe by a board-hired investigator, IRB chairman Jean-Guy Fleury conceded “improper conduct occurred” in three cases and “appropriate administrative measures” were taken against four board members.
In firing him last month, executive director Marilyn Stuart-Major credited Mr. Pieters with exposing the wrongdoing in which he participated.
However, she lashed out at him for his “deliberate fabrication” in calling the problems at the board “systemic,” and for alleging a “code of silence” existed around the misconduct.
He also maintains it failed to delve thoroughly into his claim that the problems with decision writing were widespread.Clearly readers can't judge if the review was inadequate, but it does raise some serious questions, including the Board investigating itself, and in light of indications during the Gomery Inquiry that civil servants often exceeded their job descriptions I think this derserves more scrutiny.
“I said it was a systemic issue and they're saying there's no evidence of any systemic issues here,” Mr. Pieters said.
“There's no evidence because (they) didn't investigate it.”
After all, if you don't ask, you won't know. Nor will we.
June 15 - First the past: Two E-Mails Contradict Annan on Oil-for-Food. Heh.
The June 13 NY Times previews a report from a Congressional committee on the U.N. which in its wording clarifies what the U.N. is:
In judging the United Nations and its lapses, the task force said it had focused on the responsibilities of the states making up the institution rather than just the institution itself.In other words, the U.N. is only as good as the members, and the majority of member countries are dictatorships.
"On stopping genocide," the report said, "too often 'the United Nations failed' should actually read 'members of the United Nations blocked or undermined action by the United Nations.' "
In a foreword to the report, Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Mitchell said they were "struck by the United Nations' own receptivity to needed reforms" but added that the changes "must be real and must be undertaken promptly."06:10: The Opinion Journal weighs in on John Bolton's potential confirmation vote today and how the proposed reforms may be the U.N.'s last chance.
While the report noted the damage caused by the [U.N. Oil-for-food] scandals, it stressed that one of the consequences was that the United Nations' top leadership realized the need to make fundamental changes. "Real change may now be possible without resorting to the stick of U.S. financial withholding," the report said.
In its only reference to Mr. Annan's term in office, it said that a "fundamental criterion" in selecting his successor when his term is completed at the end of 2006 should be "management capability."
The report said that the institution's current problems stemmed from the politicization and bureaucratic unwieldiness of decision-making in the General Assembly and Security Council and "absurd level of member state micromanagement" as much as they do from failures in Mr. Annan's leadership.
While crediting Mr. Annan with proposing changes, the report faulted him for lack of follow-through. "The secretary general has often put forward good-sounding reform proposals then failed to push hard against predictable resistance from staff and member states," it says.
June 5 - Fired U.N. Official Seen as Fall Guy. Ya think?
My mind is too full of similarities between Adscam and the OFF scandals to articulate them, and the involvement of Canadians Louise Frechette, Reid Morden and Maurice Strong bodes ill.
Now we can add another set-back to Canada's self-image as a caring society: Canada Free Press has an expose of yet another indication of the Strong family's hypocrisies, this time involving Oxfam, which uses Chinese slave labour to make their anti-povery wristbands.
May 17 - No real news in this, just more bluster as Galloway denies he was a recipient of oil vouchers. When he got off the plane last night, he told an AP reporter
"It's Mr. Coleman who's been all over the news and he's a lick-spittle, crazed neocon who is engaged in a witch hunt against all those he perceives to have betrayed the United States in their plan to invade and occupy Iraq,"Before the meeting with the Senate subcommittee:
... Galloway blasted Coleman and his colleagues as being a “group of Christian fundamentalists and Zionist activists under the chairmanship of neo-con George Bush and the right-wing hawks.”He told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Permanent Investigations Subcommittee
[he said he] met Saddam Hussein "as many times as Donald Rumsfeld met him. The difference is Donald Rumsfeld met him to sell him guns and give him maps. I met him to try and persade him to allow us to un weapons inspectors back in the country, a rather better use of the meetings than your own secy of defense made of his," ...C'mon, George, you fly all the way over here and all we get is the same tired routine you've been using these past three years.
Two words: new speechwriters. Rumour is that you can afford it.
May 16 - Taha Yasin Ramadan, Saddam's vice-president, told a U.S. Senate committee that oil vouchers were "compensation for support" in efforts to lift sanctions against the former regime.
A report issued by the investigation sub-committee for Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs has named highly placed Russian political figures as recipients of the oil vouchers: Alexander Voloshin, former chief of staff to President Vladimir Putin, and Russian lawmaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky.
Russia's foreign ministry said it would be unethical to comment before the final release of the U.N.'s own internal commission report, an investigation with which Russia says it is cooperating.
The Senate committee will hold hearings on this matter tomorrow.
May 15 - Isn't he special? U.S. Congressional investigations into the U.N. Oil-for-Food Progam are getting our money's worth: Saddam spies 'offered to help Chirac get re-elected':
Saddam Hussein's spies planned a wide-ranging scheme to bribe members of the French political elite in the run-up to the Anglo-American invasion, including an offer to help fund President Jacques Chirac's 2002 re-election campaign.Mrs Bachelot denies ever having such conversations.
That bid failed, according to Iraqi secret service papers seen by The Daily Telegraph, when Mr Chirac's aides allegedly said they did not need the cash.
A memo from the head of the 2nd Department of the Mukhabarat, the Iraqi intelligence service, purported to report on conversations between its representative in Paris and Roselyne Bachelot, then a member of the National Assembly and the spokesman for Mr Chirac's re-election campaign. The Mukhabarat described Mrs Bachelot as "a friend of Iraq".
The spies claimed that Mrs Bachelot offered an assurance that France would veto any American proposal to invade Iraq at the UN Security Council and would work to have UN-approved sanctions against Saddam lifted.
Others deemed sympathetic to Iraq's cause are named in the Mukhabarat papers for consideration as to who might be approached, but although the papers detail the plans they don't confirm that any of these people were ever actually approached.
(Via Neale News.)
May 14 - Galloway may be about to learn that bluster doesn't always work. From May 13:
George Galloway MP pledged to fly to Washington yesterday and confront the US Senate inquiry which has published evidence that Saddam Hussein's regime allegedly allocated him the profit from oil contracts.In further news, The Senate Committee has charged that Galloway’s Miriam Appeal was used to launder OFF money, and although Galloway says nothing improper was found in the fund, the investigation into the fund was actually inconclusive because "proper accounts were not available".
During a day of highly charged sparring, statements shot back and forth between Mr Galloway and the Senate.
Sen Norm Coleman, the Republican chairman of the sub-committee, said he was welcome to appear before it on Tuesday: "The hearing will begin promptly at 9.30am and there will be a witness chair and microphone available." Mr Galloway's spokesman quoted him as saying: "Book the flights, let's go, let's give them both barrels."
He quickly added: "That's guns, not oil."
The committee rejected Mr Galloway's accusation that his attempts to contact it before publication of the report had been rebuffed, despite him writing "repeatedly".
A spokesman said he did not attempt to make contact by any method "including but not limited to telephone, fax, e-mail, letter, Morse code or carrier pigeon".
Mr Galloway later retracted his claims, telling Sky News: "Well, let's accept that I did not ask them to appear in front of them."
When the allegations about the oil transactions were first aired in The Daily Telegraph in 2003, Mr Galloway said he would open up the organisation's books.This is an older item from the Daily Telegraph which details the appeal on the libel suit brought by Galloway:
But in a report last year, after a 12-month inquiry, the Charity Commission said: "[We] have been unable to obtain all the books and records of the appeal."
Mr Galloway told the commission that the documentation had been sent to Amman in Jordan and to Baghdad in 2001 when his associate, Fawaz Zureikat, became chairman of the appeal.
Mr Zureikat is named in the senate report as someone who facilitated the alleged oil transactions on behalf of Mr Galloway and the Mariam Appeal - named after Mariam Hamza, a four-year-old leukaemia patient brought to Britain for treatment. (Emphasis added)
Explaining why the court was willing to hear the appeal, Lord Justice Tuckey said that a gap was opening between the English courts and the European Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg over the extent to which newspapers were allowed to report documents that would otherwise be defamatory.So it is the case that is being argued, not the amount awarded.
The English courts had allowed newspapers the defence of qualified privilege provided they went no further than reportage - neutral reporting of allegations without adopting them as true.
But, in 2001, the Strasbourg court ruled in favour of a reporter who had been ordered to pay libel damages after he reported that a fellow journalist had accused forestry wardens in Luxembourg of being corruptible.
The human rights judges said: "A general requirement for journalists systematically and formally to distance themselves from the content of a quotation that might insult or provoke others or damage their reputation is not reconcilable with the press's role of providing information on current events, opinions and ideas."
In another case referred to by Lord Justice Tuckey yesterday, the Strasbourg judges remarked that "journalists cannot be expected to act with total objectivity and must be allowed some degree of exaggeration or even provocation".
On the strength of these and other cases, Lord Justice Tuckey gave Mr Price permission to argue that it was not fatal to a newspaper's claim of qualified privilege for it to adopt as true the allegations contained in a document it was publishing. He said the newspaper could also argue the defence of fair comment, though it was not clear if this would add anything.
The Daily Telegraph also refutes Galloway’s argument that the allegations by the Senate Committee have already been refuted by his successful defamation case against the Daily Telegraph by pointing out that the allegations are different:
The sub-committee concentrated on showing that Mr Galloway allegedly received four oil allocations between 2001 and 2003. As evidence, it quoted documents from the Iraqi ministry of oil and interviews with Iraqi officials. The report claims that the allocations were taken up but it does not contain evidence that Mr Galloway personally received the profits. The Daily Telegraph reports were based on documents found in the Iraqi foreign ministry shortly after the fall of Baghdad. The key document, a memo from the head of Iraqi intelligence to Saddam, was dated Jan 3 2000 and it purported to be an account of a meeting Mr Galloway allegedly had with an Iraqi intelligence officer on Boxing Day 1999.The article also notes that forensic testing has proven that the documents the Daily Telegraph reporter found in the Iraq foreign ministry were authenticated.
Q: Weren't The Daily Telegraph allegations shown in court to be false?
A: Definitely not. Mr Galloway sued The Daily Telegraph for libel, and won, but the hearing did not settle the question of whether Mr Galloway actually took Saddam's money. The Daily Telegraph relied upon the so-called Reynolds defence, which allows newspapers to publish defamatory material in some circumstances, and the case revolved around whether the paper acted responsibly. In his judgment Mr Justice Eady said: "There has been no plea of justification in this case, and accordingly it has not been part of my function to rule directly upon the truth or otherwise of the underlying allegations [against Mr Galloway]."
May 14 - Kofi Annan was not entirely forthcoming with investigator Robert Parton about his contacts with Cotecna. Seems he didn't disclose meeting Pierre Mouselli or having lunch with him.
Annan's account would change as facts emerged, which set off alarm bells for Robert Parton:
In his first of four interviews with investigators, Annan did not disclose last November he met in September 1998 with his son Kojo and Cotecna consultant Pierre Mouselli - and then, two weeks later, with Cotecna's chief executive Eli Massey - as the company was gearing up to bid for business under the oil-for-food program.There is a point at which "plausible deniability" turns into "cover up."
Annan generally acknowledged in the first interview he knew Massey - referring to him as "the old man" - and occasionally met with him, including once in 1999, several months after Cotecna won the UN contract.
In a subsequent interview in January after consulting the calendars that were turned over to Parton, Annan divulged he met twice with Massey before the Cotecna contract was awarded, including Sept. 18, 1998.
But the UN chief testified the meeting did not involve Cotecna's pursuit of oil-for-food business. Instead, he said, the two discussed an idea Massey had for an international lottery to raise money for the UN; Annan said he referred Massey to another official to discuss the idea further.
The UN chief also indicated he didn't recall a man named Pierre Mouselli, though he said he often doesn't recall people he meets casually in his high-profile job. The final report makes no mention of Annan's November denial about Mouselli.
During a March 17 interview, Annan was quizzed about a calendar entry indicating he had a "private lunch" Sept. 4, 1998, with his son Kojo and "his friend" during a world conference in Durban, South Africa.
By that time, Parton had already learned the friend was Mouselli, a businessman who, like Kojo Annan, was working as a consultant with Cotecna.
Parton also secured testimony from Mouselli stating he and the Annans had discussed at the South African lunch that Kojo Annan and Mouselli were setting up companies and were interested in business, including Iraq. The final report said Mouselli's account of the meeting couldn't be verified elsewhere.
The final report also excluded detailed testimony from Mouselli that he and the Annans discussed their interest in Iraq business.The link is a Canadian news source, which is good (and much too rare.)
"We discussed Iraq," Mouselli said in an interview this week.
"We discussed about even my way to go to Iraq...We were joking if Kojo wants to come."
May 14 - (retro-posting) It was worth waiting for:
A longtime ally of French President Jacques Chirac and a leading British critic of the Iraq war received huge contracts to resell Iraqi oil from Saddam Hussein under the U.N. oil-for-food program, Senate investigators have found.According to FoxNews,
In findings being released today, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs permanent subcommittee on investigations charges that former French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua and British Member of Parliament George Galloway each received the right to market more than 10 million barrels of cut-rate oil from dictator Saddam's Oil Ministry between 1999 and 2003.
Senate investigators, who will air their findings in a hearing next week, based the new report on internal Iraqi documents, Oil Ministry correspondence and interviews with top Saddam-era officials such as detained Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan.
Subcommittee Chairman Norm Coleman, Minnesota Republican, said the findings "paint a disturbing picture of the dark underside of the oil-for-food program." (Emphasis added)
The allegations against Pasqua and Galloway, both outspoken opponents of U.N. sanctions against Iraq in the 1990s, have been made before, including in a report last October by U.S. arms inspector Charles Duelfer.Please note that this is a different set of documents than the forged ones the for which Galloway successfully sued the Daily Telegraph and Christian Science Monitor.
But Coleman's report provided several new details. It also included information from interviews with former high-ranking officials now in U.S. custody, including former Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz and former Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan.
Among the claims: New evidence suggests that a children's leukemia charity founded by Galloway was in fact used to conceal oil payments.
The report includes what Coleman said was a copy of a contract from Iraq's State Oil Marketing Organization that mentions Mariam's Appeal, a fund Galloway established in 1998 to help a 4-year-old Iraqi girl suffering from leukemia, Mariam Hamze.
It says the fund may have been used to conceal the transfer of 3 million barrels of oil.
By the way, the Washington Times incorrectly states that Galloway quit the Labour Party; Fox correctly reports that he was expelled.
The transfer of oil to Charles Pasqua was handled by his aide, Bernard Guillet, and there was some wrangling over which bank should deliver the oil allocations.
Guillet has troubles of his own; he is under investigation for influence-peddling and receiving misappropriated funds.
Galloway denies the allegations and last month, the Daily Telegraph was granted permission to to appeal (it's unclear whether they are appealing the ruling or the amount awarded to Galloway, although I believe it is the former.)
The Bethnal Green and Bow MP, who was re-elected to parliament last week running for his own Respect party, described the Senate committee as a "lickspittle Republican committee, acting on the wishes of George Bush".The Sun is carefully choosing it's words, strictly sticking to the basics of the report (if you've ever read the Sun, you'd know why that is news!)
He said: "Let me repeat. I have never traded in a barrel of oil, or any vouchers for it. I have never seen a barrel of oil apart from the one the Sun newspaper deposited in my front garden.
"And no one has acted on my behalf, trading in oil - Middle Eastern, olive, patchouli or any other - or in vouchers, whatever they are.
"Isn't it strange and contrary to natural justice you might think that I have written and emailed repeatedly asking for the opportunity to appear before the committee to provide evidence and rebut their assumptions and they have yet to respond, while apparently making a judgement."
(This is actually from May 12 - I'm doing some retro-posting to catch up.)
May 9 - You are probably already aware that a U.S. court granted a temporary injunction blocking the release of documents to the U.S. Congress.
Henceforth, I shall refer to these documents (or should that be copies of documents) as the Annan Papers.
The NY Times covers the story but seems unaware that the revelations the Annan Papers might contain is information that, for the greater good, should be made public.
So exactly whose lives would be in danger if the only wrongdoing was poor oversight and Benon Sevan's conflict of interest?
One clue may lie in a link from Roger L. Simon to a document on the Pajamas Media Website which is said to be to Paul Volcker from Pierre Mouselli's attorney Adrian Gonzalez-Maltes which protests the treatment his client has received from the International Inquiry Committee.
The letter and accompanying documents (in .pdf) are available for download at the site and make for some verrry interesting reading.
Also, Ron over at Friends of Saddam draws some extremely alarming parallels between the Oil-for-Food Program, the Kyoto Accord, and "The Law of the Sea" and our old friend Maurice Strong appears yet again:
Mr. Volcker's March report on Kofi Annan and Kojo Annan failed to mention that the younger Annan had served on the board of directors of a now-defunct company, Air Harbour Technologies, first alongside the U.N. secretary-general's special adviser, Maurice Strong, and then alongside an adviser for U.N. oil-for-food contractor, Cotecna Inspections...Ron includes information that Bill wrote last month: the Friends of Science and their efforts to expose the bogus science of global warning. Their documentary cannot get air time in Canada; read Bill's analysis here as to how the Canadian government uses regulations to stifle the production of anything that contradicts their policies.
Maurice Strong's name keeps coming up in various articles. If you remember he is the person who promoted the Kyoto Protocols into existence ... Now a story has arisen about 17,000 scientists saying its based upon "bad" science and its a major Scam. It was signed into law in Canada and has already had cost overruns of $5 Billion Dollars just for starters. Its hard to think of a bigger Scam than "Oil for Food" but the Kyoto Protocols could surpass it easily and could ruin the industrial nations of the western world besides. The same type of scheme is before the Senate for ratification and its called, "Laws of the Sea" and it is a hot item for the Democrats.
The "Law of the Sea" is a UN thing and there are taxing provisions that could give the UN more money than any existing nation now in existence... Maybe we should look at what 17,000 thousand scientists are saying about "Kyoto" because "The Laws of the Sea" is from the same bunch of rascals.
He also has a link from which you can download the documentary.
Sheesh, I've rambled about 2 scandals and one in the making and haven't even mentioned Adscam. Since you're already at Strong World, interested Americans might like to read Bill's explanation of this evening's possible dissolution of Parliament, the procedural arguments, the possible intervention of the Governor-General -- and presents an intriguing option: Queen Elizabeth II may be asked to intervene using her reserve powers ["the final line of defense against tyranny in the Westminster system"] when she visits Canada May 17.
I'm off tonight, so I'll try to catch up on Adscam after some sleep.
May 11 - 04:00 - Sorry, I tossed and turned, then Mark got me up for the vote in Parliament after which I fell asleep and slept through most of the night. That seems to be an unwelcome, new pattern: getting 2-3 hours of sleep for a couple of days, then sleeping 9-11 hours straight on my half-weekends.
8:35 - One more thing: I tried to edit this yesterday when I realized that I had failed to note that Ron had also written about the activities of the Friends of Science but my access to my site was down - probably due to another spam attack. I've fixed that oversight now.
May 7 - Shaken, Occasionally Stirred has a breathtaking series of posts on connections between the Oil-for-Food Program encompassing the recent revelations of how money from the U.N. Oil-For-Food program was funneled to financiers of terrorists and research has led to threads that may tie into the Abu Nidal Organization. Abu Nidal left a long, bloody trail behind him, including the 1985 Christmastime attacks at the Rome and Vienna airports (another event in the category of things that people don't talk about but haven't forgotten.) He died in extremely odd circumstances in Iraq in August, 2002.
Shaken has put all the links together in this post and connecting the dots has led to either a startling coincidence or something that demands a great deal of explaining by the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool (or jail time. I'm easy.)
How chilling: the name I found listed in Montreal is Albanna, the same name I found that linked to alleged Oil For Food fund redirection by BNP Paribas.Do as he says. I'm heading back for my second read-through.
When I did some background research on "Abu Nidal Organization" (ANO), I saw many references to close ties to Iraq, and routing funding through Lebanon. Perhaps a total co-incidence. But it is chilling to find a telephone listing in Montreal for an Albanna that is renting a furnished executive suite, and shares the same name as an executive for a company in Lebanon linked to Oil For Food contracts placed on hold by the US. Very chilling indeed. Scroll down to my earlier posts to see how the dots connect.
May 6 - Overslept and have to run, but want to note Paul Volcker's response to the Congressional committee sub-poena of records from former Oil-for-Food investigator Robert Parton:
Lives 'Are at Stake':
Volcker said Friday that Congress has to restrain itself from requiring certain acts and information from current or former IIC members as it conducts hearings into Oil-for-Food (search).I'm surprised he didn't implore us to "think of the children."
"It is essential that it also protect the integrity and the confidentiality of the independent investigating committee," Volcker told reporters in New York, saying the probe involved "highly sensitive matters."
"Lives of certain witnesses are at stake," he added. "We're not playing games here, we are dealing, and let me just emphasize this, in some cases, with lives."
The U.N. Oil-for-Food Program was supposed to be about lives: allowing oil sales in exchange for purchases of goods and products that would alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people that arose from the U.N. imposed sanctions when Saddam Hussein failed to comply with the provisions of the cease-fire following Gulf War I.
That program was corrupted, and the money that was supposed to alleviate suffering went instead into the pockets of individuals - including Saddam himself.
The response of Rep. Chris Shays cuts to the chase:
"We just want transparency, we're used to it in the United States. We have freedom of information, we don't have that in the U.N.," he said. "There will be no faith in the U.N. until all the facts are out ... everyone is cooperating, and people aren't cooperating."Tangentially, those words in part reveal why Americans are so unsettled by the publication ban imposed by the Gomery Inquiry. There is no implicit disrespect meant for Canada or Canadians (at least from most of us) but a difference in attitude about accountability for public funds.
(I hope I said what I meant to say, but I'm late and have to dash. Have a good weekend!)
May 5 - Robert Parton, investigator for the Volcker Commission who resigned as a matter of principle, has turned over documents about Annan's actions in the Oil-for-Food program to one of the Congressional committees investgating the Oil-for-Food Scandal last night.
The documents were handed over after Parton was issued a subpoena by the House International Relations Committee on Friday night.In other U.N. news, paper-shredder Iqbal Riza will not be disciplined. Annan issued a statement claiming the shredding was due to carelessness.
"I have directed investigators for the Committee to begin an immediate and careful examination of documents received from Mr. Parton," Rep. Henry Hyde, the committee's chairman, said in a statement. "I wish to extend to Mr. Parton my thanks for fully complying with the committee's subpoena. It is my hope and expectation that neither the United Nations nor the independent inquiry will attempt to sanction Mr. Parton for complying with a lawful subpoena."
After the subpoena was issued Friday night, Parton's attorney wrote to the United Nations and to IIC head Paul Volcker asking if they would instruct Parton to defy a Congressional subpoena.
When both the United Nations and the Volcker committee refused to answer, Parton took action and, on Wednesday night, handed over the boxes of documents to a congressional committee.
Those boxes contain records of Parton's investigation of Annan's actions and are believed to be damaging to the secretary-general.
Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, earlier was preparing subpoenas to force Parton and Duncan to testify. It was expected that those subpoenas could be issued as early as Thursday.
Congress has been trying to talk to Parton ever since his resignation two weeks ago. Last week, Volcker tried to block such efforts by insisting that Parton and Duncan, both Americans, had diplomatic immunity.
"It's also being pointed out that if Mr. Volcker is asserting that his team has U.N. diplomatic immunity, then he is admitting that his committee is not in fact independent but a part of the very organization it is supposed to be objectively investigating," said Nile Gardiner of the Heritage Foundation.
Gardiner said it is vital for Parton and Duncan to be heard.
"It's absolutely essential that these two individuals be allowed to testify before Congress to give the full picture. After all, this is a $30 million investigation being funded by the Iraqi people. They demand absolute accountability from this inquiry," Gardiner said.
Maurice Strong had hired his stepdaughter as an aide despite U.N. regulations forbidding the hiring of immediate family relations.
She was employed as his aide for two years:
The UN envoy took temporary leave from his post April 20, after which the United Nations did an internal review of his office and found when stepdaughter Mayo was hired in February 2003 "she did not disclose she was related to Mr. Strong," Haq said.So shredding documents before an inquiry is okay if you explain to was due to "carelessness" but failure to note your potential new boss is also your step-dad on a application form is wrong.
She resigned immediately April 21, he said. Haq said he did not know Mayo's age or the salary she received from her stepfather's UN office.
"We are continuing with our examination of why staff regulations were not followed," Haq said.
Strong's office did not reply immediately to a request for comment.
The Volcker Commission is independent of the U.N. but is entitled to diplomatic immunity under the U.N.'s aegis.
Oh, and one more thing: Robert Parton and Miranda Duncan seem to have more than their share of integrity and steel - fine, tempered steel.
Would it be too low to mention that a U.N. worker is being questioned in connection with the terror attack on the British Consulate early this morning? Actually, yes.
18:55 - I knew I had forgotten something: a senior official with the U.N. Development Program, Justin Leites, took a paid leave last year to campaign in his home state of Maine for Kerry-Edwards. This is not exactly the same as the "fake volunteers" who worked to re-elect Liberals in Canada, but it does mean that tax-payers somewhere paid for Leites to work in an effort to elect U.N.-friendly Democrats to the White House:
Twelve UNDP staff members filed an official complaint with the internal investigative arm of UNDP. The document alleges that involvement by the agency's internal communication chief, Mr. Leites, in Senator Kerry's presidential campaign places election advisers and other U.N. operatives worldwide in jeopardy.Another interesting aspect is the fact that the employees who filed the complaint chose to remain anonymous:
Both staff members and U.N. officials agree that Mr. Leites left his UNDP position last year for a two month period to serve as political director for the Kerry-Edwards presidential campaign in the blue state of Maine.
"By taking an active leadership role in the bitterly fought 2004 U.S. presidential election, Justin Leites has handed to terrorists and would-be hostage-takers the perfect excuse to kidnap and threaten the lives of UNDP and U.N. colleagues elsewhere, especially those providing electoral assistance in more than 30 countries across the globe," states the complaint, which was filed on April 7 and was obtained by The New York Sun.
"If UNDP staff can interfere with impunity in the internal politics of the most powerful country on earth, how can UNDP maintain that it is not interfering in a similarly partial manner in any of the weak and failing states in the developing world?" the complaint demands. It also notes that while Mr. Leites was "campaigning zealously in America on behalf of his political masters, three UNDP electoral workers were seized in Kabul, Afghanistan, and held hostage for nearly a month in October 2004."
[UNDP associate spokeswoman Cassandra Waldon] ... did not dispute that Mr.Leites left last year to work for the Kerry-Edwards campaign. She said that the current investigation is yet to determine whether then-UNDP director, Mark Malloch Brown, who is now the U.N. chief of staff, allowed Mr. Leites to campaign, or whether Mr. Annan made the decision.Whistleblower protection is long over-due at the U.N.
The signatories of the UNDP complaint write that they chose to remain anonymous because Mr. Leites "has powerful protectors within and beyond UNDP, including high-level Democratic Party figures." They added that "current safeguards for U.N. system whistleblowers are inadequate and have been acknowledged to require strengthening."
Mr. Malloch Brown continues to run UNDP, although Mr. Annan last week named a former Turkish finance minister, Kemal Dervis, to a replace him. Mr. Malloch Brown was named U.N. chief of staff early this year after a group of mostly Democratic American "friends of Kofi Annan" met secretly last year in the apartment of America's ambassador to the United Nations under President Clinton, Richard Holbrooke.
The Sun reported about the involvement of Mr. Leites in the Kerry-Edwards campaign in the past, and at that time a UNDP spokesman, William Orme, contended that no U.N. staff rules were broken. The staffers' complaint, however, now alleges that specific staff regulations, as well as the U.N. charter, were indeed violated.
"In the performance of their duties, the secretary-general and the staff shall not seek or receive instructions from any government or from any other authority external to the Organization," reads Article 100 of the U.N. charter. "They shall refrain from any action which might reflect on their position as international officials responsible only to the Organization."
According to U.N.'s staff regulation 1.2 (h), "Staff members may exercise their right to vote but shall ensure that their participation in any political activity is consistent with, and does not reflect adversely upon, the independence and impartiality required by their status as international civil servants."
May 5 - Claudia Rosett writes about new information concerning the Oil-for-Food Program in the NY Sun: Congress Probes Routing of Funds To Suspect Firms:
Investigators looking into the U.N. oil-for-food program, poring over documents provided to Congress here, are discovering that vast sums intended for humanitarian purposes in Iraq were rerouted through a global web of companies with links to terrorist funding and arms trafficking.A description of a long, torturous trail seems to wind through the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool:
The fresh clues to the money trail are emerging from a House hearing that focused last week on BNP Paribas, the French bank picked by the United Nations to service the bulk of the U.N.-supervised deals. At the hearing, one of its officers acknowledged a number of what he characterized as "mistakes" in the handling of funds under the oil-for-food program.
But the documents provided by BNP under congressional subpoena and examined by The New York Sun suggest to congressional investigators that some of these mistakes involved the rerouting of money through a global web of companies linked not only to terrorist funding and arms trafficking but also to anti-sanctions campaigning and front operations for the Iraqi regime itself.
Even in the context of an oil-for-food program that encompassed more than $110 billion of Saddam's oil sales and relief purchases, these payments to third parties were not small change. Payments rerouted inside BNP - against U.N. rules but evidently without protest from Turtle Bay - totaled at least $470 million, documents in the possession of Congress indicate.
There are 80 as-yet-undisclosed third-party payments still under review by BNP that, according to Mr. Rohrabacher, "BNP does not fully understand." The bank's own auditors found that the flow of oil-for-food paperwork was "irrational."
While some of the companies may be innocent and some of the transfers may have been simple mistakes, there are also signs that this list provides a map to at least part of the financial network Saddam used to evade U.N. sanctions and corrupt the U.N. program meant to contain him - as he was doing, according to testimony last fall of the Central Intelligence Agency's chief weapons inspector, Charles Duelfer.
The number of companies involved was relatively small, a few dozen out of the more than 3,000 contractors tapped by Saddam under U.N. terms that let him choose, subject to U.N. veto, his own business partners. Among several of this band, the rerouted payments were copious. In some cases, they form a latticework of disturbing associations. These include such U.N.-approved dealers as Al Wasel & Babel General Trading, based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, which sold $384 million of goods to Saddam under oil for food.
Last April, the U.S. Treasury designated Al Wasel & Babel as a front for officials of the Saddam regime. According to the Treasury, Al Wasel & Babel - under the guise of selling Saddam humanitarian goods - not only tried to buy a surface-to-air missile system for Iraq when it was under U.N. sanctions, but also "played a key role in the former Iraqi regime's schemes to obtain illicit kickbacks in goods purchased through the oil-for-food program."
BNP was able, however, to supply Mr. Rohrabacher with the information that whoever might have been in charge of East Star, the company over the period 2000-03 received more than $80 million in BNP rerouted oil-for-food payments that were officially due to a Saudi Arabia-based supplier, Al Riyadh International Flowers, which BNP described as "reportedly" owned by a member of the Saudi royal family, Prince Bandar Bin Mohammed Bin Abdulrahm Al Saud. He is not the Prince Bandar who is the Saudi ambassador to America.WTF? Kate and her commenters are doing some digging and turning up some very interesting things.
The Prince Bandar in question also turns up personally on the list of BNP's third-party payments, as having received, in 1999, $353,500 rerouted from another of his companies, Zahrat Al-Riyadh. This in turn shows up on the BNP list as having had about $29 million in oil-for-food payments rerouted by BNP in 1999-2000 to the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool.
It gets better:
Along with receiving funds redirected from Al-Riyadh, East Star received third-party payments via BNP totaling at least $8 million from its U.N.-approved affiliates, Malaysia-based Pacific Inter-Link and three related companies in Southeast Asia (and more third-party payments reassigned from dealers in places such as Russia and Ukraine).Please note that in case some names seem familiar, the Abdul Rahman in this story is not Abdul Rahman Yasin who was believed to have fled to Iraq in or around 1993, but Ahmed Idris Nasreddin is a suspected terrorist who was named on a Securities advisory to the State of Massachusetts issued by the State Dept. on Apr. 19, 2002, as a suspected terrorist with extensive ties to the Salafists. A joint-U.S.-Italian communique listed him as a financier of terror (and announced that the two countries simultaneously froze his assets.) He was a financier of the Salafists, and the frozen assets appear to be quite extensive and "Fourteen of the twenty-five are entities that are owned or controlled by either Ahmed Idris Nasreddin or Youssef Nada."
BNP's report to Congress notes that Pacific Inter-Link "is a member of the Yemen-based Hayel Saeed Anam Group, one of the oldest and most noted business conglomerates in the Arab world." The Hayel Saeed Group, with affiliates in places such as Malaysia and Indonesia, supplied hundreds of millions of dollars of goods to Saddam's regime via oil for food.
What BNP did not mention to Congress, though it was reported last fall by Fox News, in an article by this reporter and Fox News's executive editor, George Russell, is that both Pacific Inter-Link and the Hayel Saeed Anam Group have on their boards of directors a member of the family, Hayel Saeed Abdul Rahman, who was a charter member in 1984 of a business chamber founded in Lugano, Switzerland, by members of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood - the Malaysian, Swiss Gulf, and African Chamber, or MIGA. Shortly after the September 11, 2001, attacks on America, MIGA was named by the United Nations as a terrorist-financing outfit, and added to the U.N. watch-list of entities belonging to or affiliated with Al Qaeda.
Pacific Inter-Link has denied any connection between MIGA and Mr. Abdul Rahman, who has recently been based in Jeddah. His name as of last fall was still on MIGA's Swiss registry documents, along with that of U.N.-designated terrorist financier, Ahmed Idris Nasreddin - with whom Mr. Abdul Rahman, via his family company, has stated he has had no dealings since 1984. (Emphasis added.)
One more piece of the puzzle:
Amid this tapestry of multimillion dollar "mistakes" is a small, stray thread worthy of further attention. The BNP list includes a payment of $64,900, redirected in 1999 from a U.N.-approved dealer, Jugo Import Atera, to a Dutch company, BV Chemie Pharmacie. Jugo Import - or Yugo Import, as the name appears on the company's Web site, has been for decades the leading arms exporter of the former Yugoslavia, now Serbia. Yugo Import's Web site mentions not only that it specializes in military equipment and transfers of military technology, but that from 1975-90, more than three-quarters of its business abroad, or more than $7.5 billion, was done with Iraq - indicating weapons deals with Saddam's regime prior to sanctions. Why Yugo Import, during Belgrade's era of rule by U.N.-sanctioned Slobodan Milosevic, was approved by the United Nations to sell Saddam's U.N.-sanctioned regime such goods as "anti-snake venom" and "veterinary supplies" under oil for food is an intriguing question. Also intriguing is why it has only now emerged, under pressure from congressional investigators, that Yugo Import proceeds were diverted to a third party.(Link via post at Canada Free Press blog which is well worth reading.)
Apr. 24 - Oil-for-food man quit on principle:
One of two investigators who resigned earlier this week from the commission probing fraud at the United Nations' oil-for-food program released a statement Saturday in which he disputed a report that he did so because his work was finished.I've often heard the complaint that we Americans communicate as much by what we don't say as much as by what we do. This is certainly a case in point, as Parton surfaced long enough to dispute the "completed their work" explanation but "declined further comment" (at least to CNN.)
Instead, Robert Parton said in the statement, he resigned "on principle."
Parton and Miranda Duncan resigned from the panel headed by former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker on Wednesday.
In an interview with CNN, a member of the Volcker panel, Richard Goldstone, discounted a media report that the two resigned to protest conclusions the panel had reached about U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
He said Parton and Duncan had completed their work and were already set to leave.
"Contrary to recent published reports, I resigned by position as senior investigative counsel for the IIC not because my work was complete, but on principle," Parton said in the statement. He declined further comment.
The question is: What specifically led them to decide that their principles would no longer allow them to be part of that Inquiry?
Last night, in the most explicit criticism so far directed at the report, Robert Parton, one of the senior investigators, told a lawyer involved with the Volcker inquiry that he thought the committee was "engaging in a de facto cover-up, acting with good intentions but steered by ideology".They meant well! See here.
The lawyer, Adrian Gonzalez, told The Sunday Telegraph that he believed the committee, headed by Paul Volcker, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, was determined to protect the secretary-general.Roger has more, including a clarification from Gonzalez that the phrase "de facto coverup" was his, not Parton's.
According to Mr Gonzalez, Mr Parton felt that the committee had effectively divided the body of evidence relating to the oil-for-food scandal into testimony that it did want to hear, and testimony that it did not.
While the "field teams" led by Mr Parton and Miranda Duncan, who has also stepped down, were coming to one conclusion, he said, committee members appeared to want to draw a different conclusion to protect senior UN officials.
De facto or not, it isn't the crime that will bury them but the cover-up, and the revelations about Maurice Strong came uncomfortably close to the resignations of the two members of the inquiry, Adscam, and Martin's connection to his mentor Strong. Throw in Volcker's connection with Power Corp and thus to Total Oil, surmises that inquiry member Reid Morden tried to cover up the name of U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechette, his protege, to shield her from criticism for blocking the submission of reports on the Oil-for-Food program to the UNSC and Kojo Annan's failure to report his continuing financial ties to Cotecna and ... I know I've forgotten something ... what-farking-ever, the Volcker Inquiry has zero credibility now, especially with the Iraqi people, who have to pay for their investigations and Benon Sevan's defence.
Fox News has a short item on the resignations and the recent State Dept. appraisal of Annan's fatuous claim to have been exonated here.
Funny, Richard Goldstone's
lies attempt to spin the resignations of Robert Parton and Miranda Duncan backfired and brought the reasons for the resignations more out into the open. Now Americans have two U.N. cover-ups to contemplate and I expect constitutents will fire off letters to their representatives in Congress demanding that the bums be thrown out and all funding for the U.N. cease.
We hate cover-uppers and liars. That's why Oliver North is widely respected and the name Richard Nixon is synonymous with sleazeball.
Apr. 22 - Adscam may be the least of Paul Martin's worries. Canada Free Press has uncovered damaging information that ties Martin, Maurice Strong, Tongsun Park, Saddam Hussein, and the U.N. Oil for Food project: Hussein invested one million dollars in Paul Martin-owned Cordex.
The Canadian company that Saddam Hussein invested a million dollars in belonged to the Prime Minister of Canada, canadafreepress.com has discovered.
Cordex Petroleum Inc., launched with Saddam’s million by Prime Minister Paul Martin’s mentor Maurice Strong’s son Fred Strong, is listed among Martin’s assets to the Federal Ethics committee on November 4, 2003.
Among Martin’s Public Declaration of Declarable Assets are: "The Canada Steamship Lines Group Inc. (Montreal, Canada) 100 percent owned"; "Canada Steamship Lines Inc. (Montreal, Canada) 100 percent owned"–Cordex Petroleums Inc. (Alberta, Canada) 4.6 percent owned by the CSL Group Inc."
Yesterday, Strong admitted that Tongsun Park, the Korean man accused by U.S. federal authorities of illegally acting as an Iraqi agent, invested in Cordex, the company he owned with his son, in 1997.
In that admission, Strong describes Cordex as a Denver-based company. Cordex Petroleum Inc. is listed among Martin’s assets as an Alberta-based company.Read the whole thing.
Apr. 21 - I woke up and turned on CPAC about half-way through Question Period (and a fine Question Period it was!) and nearly fell over when a member of the Opposition stated that Maurice Strong had stepped down from his UN post and went on to ask questions about the Canadian involvement in the U.N. Oil-for-food program.
I believe this is the first time that particular scandal has been addressed in the House of Commons.
The article is accompanied by no links to the ongoing investigations into the U.N. Oil-for-food program but does link to a glowing in-depth profile of the United Nations.
Yesterday, two investigators, Robert Parton and Miranda Duncan, resigned from the Volcker inquiry which is looking into the U.N. Oil-for-Food program Saying Probe Too Soft on Annan. Neither investigator was available for comment.
UNITED NATIONS - Maurice Strong, a long-time Canadian businessman and currently the top UN envoy for North Korea, will suspend his work for the United Nations while investigators look into his ties to a South Korean businessman accused in the UN oil-for-food scandal in Iraq.Of course he'll cooperate! Mass shredder Iqbal Riza did such a thorough job destroying documents that could possibly have ruined both Annan and Strong.
Strong denies any involvement with the tainted program and has pledged to co-operate with investigators.
His ties to Tongsun Park are raising concerns about a possible conflict of interest in respect of his role as envoy to North Korea. (Emphasis added.)
Park is accused of accepting millions from the Iraqi government while being suspected of operating as an unregistered agent for Baghdad, lobbying for oil-for-food contracts.
Nice try by the CBC to imply the issue is a the propriety of being an envoy to N. Korea while maintaining business relations with a corrupt S. Korean ...
After Corbeil's revelations, the CBC needs to be scrutinized. After all, one of the first rules of warfare is to seize control of communications and news media, and the CBC is a federally funded body. I doubt it's an accident that they subtly altered this news items.
Apr. 19 - Is Maurice Strong the anonymous Canadian U.N. official No. 2 cited in reports about the arrest of David Bay Chalmers Jr? Sure looks like it ...
Strong, a special adviser to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on North Korea and one of Canada's most influential entrepreneurs, acknowledged on Monday that he had ties to South Korean Tongsun Park, who is suspected of bribing U.N. officials in the oil-for-food scandal.Maurice Strong is also a former president of Power Corp, as shown by Kevin Steel's all-purpose handy-dandy chart.
Park, a central figure in an influence-peddling scandal in Washington in the 1970s, was charged by federal prosecutors in New York last week with being an unregistered agent for the Iraqi government before Saddam Hussein's ouster in 2003.
The Independent Inquiry Committee into the oil-for-food program, led by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, has now opened an investigation into Strong, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters.
In 1997 or 1998, Park arranged a meeting in a Manhattan restaurant with a high-ranking U.N. official, who was not identified. Park later told an informant he had spent $5 million to "fund business dealings" with the official, a U.S. criminal complaint said.And the other $4,000,000.00? Oh, sorry. That was impolite.
Park, according to the informant, invested about $1 million in an unnamed Canadian company set up by the son of the U.N. official. The money was later lost when the company failed.
Strong, 76, acknowledged in a written statement that Park in 1997 had invested "on a normal commercial basis" in an energy company with which he was associated that had no links to Iraq.Well, that isn't Power Corp. Remember, it was All About The Oil.
Strong's son Frederick Strong is a Canadian businessman who has worked in the energy industry. He could not immediately be reached for comment but the federal complaint did not mention Strong or anyone from his family.Maybe he means when Maurice Strong reported that U.S.-North Korean relations could be eased by a treaty because we all just needed to communicate.
Maurice Strong has been active in the oil industry and has also worked for the United Nations for decades in various jobs including several senior posts. He had an office down the hall from Annan for about a year in 1997 when he served as the secretary-general's special envoy for U.N. reform.
He also briefly was a member of the board of Air Harbour Technologies Ltd. along with Annan's son Kojo Annan, whom the Volcker panel is also investigating for possible conflicts of interest in the award of a multimillion-dollar oil-for-food contract to Cotecna, a Swiss company that employed him.
Air Harbour Technologies, based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, is chaired by Hani Yamani, the son of former Saudi oil minister Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani.
Strong, in a written statement on Monday, said he has continued to maintain a relationship with Park, who he said advised him on "North Korean issues in my role as U.N. envoy."
The United Nations was looking into whether it was appropriate for Strong to continue working for Annan during the investigation, spokesman Dujarric said.I'm sorry, but I find that sentence extremely funny. "Drawn" into controversy? He is already neck-deep in controversy! Is he catatonic? on drugs? Does he have a grasp on what has happened on his watch? Maybe not; he kind of missed that whole Rwanda thing, you know, and the Sudan thing is beyond his comprehension. Or he could just be incredibly brazen.
Annan, however, would not be drawn into the controversy.
Dear oh dear, what shall we do with Annan? (raises hand) Cut of his .... funding?
"Maurice Strong has issued a statement and is also in touch with the Volcker Commission and has indicated he will cooperate with anyone who is looking into this," Annan said."And why not? The shredders did their job.
According to this, Annan didn't know that Strong and Tongsun Park had a business relationship and U.N. officials say that Park and former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali were close.
Time to go hmmm (I'm kidding - it's way, way past time to content ourselves with going hmmm. It's rapidly getting to be time to grab those pitchforks and torches, though.) First Louise Frechette, then Reid Morden, and now Strong ... the Canadian bureaucrats at the U.N. are implicated in the Oil for Food scandal as deeply as their federal Liberal friends are in Adscam. Anyone see a pattern yet?
In seemingly unrelated news, Canada is revamping their foreign policy and forging stronger ties with its North American neighbours. I hope they mean the North Pole, because the revelations in the inquiry of the Oil-for-Food scandal have rendered Canada's profile as being, um, less than trustworthy with sensitive American security issues.
Oh, why mince words? They're the farking enemy! (I trust you know what Canadian "they" I'm referring to. Fourth member of the Axis of Weasels, right? Nothing must stand in the way of access to Iran's oil fields (scroll down.) They never met an enemy of the U.S. they didn't cozy up to. That them.)
True to form, the premiers of Ontario and Quebec are raising their fears over border plans, and just to clarify, they are referring to this one. That's right, the premiers of the two provinces that hate America most are upset that their residents can't enter a country they vehemently despise without a passport. (A curious person might wonder why on earth they'd want to visit such a horrible, dreadful, unenlightened country, but I don't. The Canadians who scream the most about being subverted by mysterious forces who envision Canada as the 51st state behave as they they have the same rights as the Phantom 51st State. Normal Canadians, I'm glad to report, are happy to be Canadian and just want to make this country better. Of course, they are also sane.)
It will be duck-and-cover time when the two aforementioned provincial premiers learn about this plan -- they are really going to be pissed off, but it will take awhile because they never pay attention to anything that is written in the West.
Apr. 15 - David Bay Chalmers Jr. of Bayoil U.S.A. was charged yesterday in Iraq Oil Sales by Hussein Aides.:
In an indictment, federal authorities in New York said David Bay Chalmers Jr., a Houston oil businessman, and his company, Bayoil U.S.A., made millions of dollars in illegal kickbacks to the Iraqi government while trading oil under the $65 billion aid program.The story in the Washington Post says much the same:
Separate charges were brought against Tongsun Park, a millionaire South Korean businessman, for acting as an unregistered lobbyist for Iraq in behind-the-scenes negotiations in the United States to set up and shape the United Nations program. The criminal complaint said Mr. Park received at least $2 million in secret payments from Mr. Hussein's government for serving as a liaison between Iraqi and United Nations officials.
Mr. Park was at the center of a lobbying scandal in the 1970's, when he was accused of paying bribes to lawmakers in Washington to secure support for loans to South Korea.
The authorities not only charged that Bayoil made illegal payments to secure Iraqi oil, but also that it conspired to artificially lower the price Iraq received, depriving the Iraqi people of money for sorely needed items. The charges also disclosed new information about an alleged plan to pay senior United Nations officials to influence the course of the program.
Catherine M. Recker, a lawyer for Mr. Chalmers, said the Bayoil defendants and the company would plead not guilty and "vigorously dispute" the criminal charges.
According to federal authorities and the complaint against Mr. Park, he was a partner in the lobbying effort with Samir Vincent, an Iraqi-American businessman who pleaded guilty in January to illegal lobbying for Iraq.
Mr. Vincent, who is cooperating with federal investigators, said Iraqi officials signed agreements in 1996 to pay him and Mr. Park $15 million for their lobbying, the complaint says.
One of their tasks was "to take care of" a high-ranking United Nations official, which Mr. Vincent understood to mean to pay bribes, the complaint says. The authorities did not identify or bring charges against the United Nations official. (Emphasis added)
David N. Kelley, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, in Manhattan, said the complaint alleges that Mr. Park intended to bribe the official, but does not show that the official received any bribe.
The complaint also charges that Mr. Park met with a second unnamed senior United Nations official, once in a restaurant in Manhattan. After that, Mr. Park said he invested $1 million he had been paid by Iraq in a Canadian company belonging to the son of the second United Nations official, the complaint says.
Mr. Kelley declined to say whether the officials were still actively serving at the world organization. He said, however, that the investigation was "broad and large" and that his office would "wring the towel dry" in pursuing United Nations officials. (Emphasis added.)
A federal grand jury in Manhattan charged that David B. Chalmers Jr., founder of Houston-based Bayoil USA Inc. and Bayoil Supply & Trading Limited; Ludmil Dionissiev, a Bulgarian citizen who lives in Houston; and John Irving, a British oil trader, funneled millions of dollars in kickbacks through a foreign front company to an Iraqi-controlled bank account in the United Arab Emirates. If convicted, the three men could each be sentenced to as long as 62 years in prison, $1 million in fines, and the seizure of at least $100 million in personal and corporate assets.
The federal complaint against Park charges that he received a total of $2 million in cash from Iraq, including a fee to "take care" of an unnamed U.N. official. It also states that Park invested $1 million in Iraqi money in a Canadian company owned by the son of another unknown, "high-ranking" U.N. official. Park could face as long as five years in prison and a fine of as much as $250,000 or twice the value of profits he earned as a result of his alleged activities. (Emphasis added.)
The Telegraph (UK) has a fairly terse article on the arrests.
Thus far I've only found coverage of the arrests in The Globe and Mail which covers the arrest but as of 5:41 a.m. didn't report the allegations of a Canadian connection but does report that U.N. officials may be connected to these arrests:
The reference in the complaint against Mr. Park to two mystery high-ranking UN officials sparked widespread speculation in UN corridors of possible names.Any Canadian who read the NY Times or Washington Post today is probably speculating too!
Mr. Kelley, pressed repeatedly by reporters at a news conference to say whether U.N. officials had actually received money tied to Mr. Park, would say only that that issue was not part of the indictment.
The U.N. is claiming that the Americans and British were perfectly aware of the violations of the sanctions but refused to order their ships in the Persian Gulf to stop oil tankers heading for Turkish and Jordanian ports with illicit Iraqi oil. I have read reports that trucks loaded with illegally purchased oil from Iraq went to Turkey and Jordan (that became common knowledge after Operation Iraqi Freedom and the public learned just how corrupt OFF - or Oil for Palaces - really was) but I don't understand why oil headed for Jordan or Turkey would use rather lengthy sea lanes when they border Iraq and could drive it in.
Maybe Annan was thinking of Syria, a member of the U.N. Security Council, but, again, the oil was not transported by sea but by pipeline, two of which were turned off when U.S. troops got to them. Maybe he just forgot.
11:30 - Glenn Reynolds has lots of links on the arrests.
Apr. 16 - 10:05: FoxNews has no additional information on U.N. Official No. 1 and Official No. 2.
Mar. 30 - The second part of the Volcker Interim Report (on the U.N. Oil-for-Food scandal) is available in .pdf here.
Note: I was unable to view ithe document until I updated my version of Adobe Acrobat. If you're having problems, try googling "Adobe Acrobat + [insert your OS]" to find a link that will upgrade properly.
14:25 - The Montreal Gazette thinks that the Volcker Interim Report did not clear Kofi Annan of wrongdoing but left it up to the public to connect the dots themselves. Oh, those shredded documents ...
Mar. 23 - Just when you'd think the leadership of the U.N. might be worried about their image they prove once again that they are better at looking after the interests of their fellow bureaucrats than they are at helping the oppressed peoples of the world: U.N. to Reimburse Sevan for Legal Fees:
Payment for Sevan's legal fees was to come out of the account containing the 2.2 percent of Iraqi oil revenues from the $64 billion program earmarked for its administration, U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said.This is all the more apalling coming as it does on the heels of Kofi Annan's suggestion that developed nations should be levied to support Millenium Development Goals -- the funds for which are to be administered by the U.N.
Sevan's fees are to be reimbursed with Iraqi oil funds set aside to help administer the program. That means Iraq oil money would essentially pay for Sevan to defend himself against charges that he bilked the program.
I'd sooner invest in Enron.
By the way, Belmont Club has a new home and a post on the reforms Kofi Annan has proposed for the U.N. One sentence sums up everything that's wrong with the U.N.:
It is a maxim of the United Nations that progress is achieved by doing everything that never worked all over again.I believe that is also a definition for insanity.
04:17 From Roger L. Simon, this post links to an article in the Financial Times, Annan son received $300,000 in payments from Cotecna , not the $175,00 that had previously been reported. It would seem some creative bookkeeping may have been at work as "... payments were arranged in ways that obscured where the money came from or whom it went to."
Rehan Mullick testified that by his estimate more than 20 percent of the shipments to Iraq, worth $1 billion a year, were not distributed properly, with many goods pilfered by the Iraqi military.Mullick was a data analyst for the U.N. program, and his duties included monitoring the humanitarian shipments into Iraq.
"A fourth or fifth of the supplies were not distributed," he said.
Mullick, 39, an American sociologist of Pakistani origin, appeared before the House International Relations Subcommittee on Permanent Investigations in Washington.
"Soon after I started my job, it became amply evident that there were gaping holes in U.N.'s efforts to meet [its] objectives," Mullick told the committee in his written statement, though he read aloud only parts of it.So who did he alert? Was it Frechette?
Mullick said in his statement that a database to track the humanitarian shipments was "muddled beyond repair," that survey techniques "were at best amateurish," and that statistics quoted by the United Nations were "misleading."
Mullick told the subcommittee that he repeatedly alerted U.N. officials of problems he observed but was rebuffed.
"Each suggestion resulted in my supervisors reducing my job responsibilities," Mullick said. "This continued to occur until my only job was to run the slide projector at staff meetings."
Mullick said he eventually submitted a 10-page report to U.N. headquarters in 2002 reporting that 22 percent of supplies imported under the program never reached Iraq's 27 million people.
"I heard nothing," Mullick said. "Finally I was contacted and told my contract was not being renewed."
... the United Nations found the program to be a success, saying, for example, that food delivered reduced the malnutrition rate among Iraqi children by 50 percent.
Mullick described the United Nations as having "old mafia-style management."
He added in his statement, "Had the U.N. chosen to listen to and offer protection to those who blow the whistle on bureaucratic injustice and corruption, a program like oil for food would have worked more in the interest of the impoverished Iraqi people rather than their detractors." (Bolding added.)
There is no whistle-blower protection for U.N. employees, and the human cost of unreported crimes has spread from Iraqis who were supposed to benefit from the Oil-for-Food to shocking revelations about sex-crimes committed by blue-helmeted troops and U.N. workers.
The U.N. is said to represent "international law." Those who would chose to live under the rule of an unaccountable, cynical bureaucracy don't know the meaning of the word "law" much less understand the power of freely electing one's own lawmakers with the attendant power to replace them in regular election cycles.
From one of my favourite 60's-era songs:
Oh, Freedom over me!
And before I'll be a slave,
I'll be bured in my grave,
And go home to my Lord and be free.
Mar. 15 - Have I been complaining about the lack of investigative reporting up here? This graph and accompanying Western Standard news story The scandal spills north prove me wrong:
Just a month before the Canada Free Press revealed that Volcker, a former Federal Reserve chairman, is a member of Power Corp.’s international advisory board--and a close friend and personal adviser to Power’s owner, Paul Desmarais Sr.--a U.S. congressional investigation into the UN scandal discovered that Power Corp. had extensive connections to BNP Paribas, a French bank that had been handpicked by the UN in 1996 to broker the Oil-for-Food program. In fact, Power actually once owned a stake in Paribas through its subsidiary, Pargesa Holding SA. The bank also purchased a stake in Power Corp. in the mid-seventies and, as recently as 2003, BNP Paribas had a 14.7 per cent equity and 21.3 per cent voting stake in Pargesa, company records show. John Rae, a director and former executive at Power (brother of former Ontario premier Bob Rae), was president and a director of the Paribas Bank of Canada until 2000. And Power Corp. director Michel François-Poncet, who was, in 2001, the vice-chairman of Pargesa, also sat on Paribas’s board, though he died Feb. 10, at the age of 70. A former chair of Paribas’s management board, André Levy-Lang, is currently a member of Power’s international advisory council. And Amaury-Daniel de Seze, a member of BNP Paribas’s executive council, also sat on Pargesa’s administrative council in 2002.Read the whole thing. Email the link to your friends.
The reason investigators [from several Congressional committees] are interested in Power’s possible links to the bank that acted as a clearing house for Oil-for-Food is because the firm also appears to have had a stake in an oil firm that had been working out lucrative contracts with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Subsidiary Pargesa owns the largest single stake in Total Group Inc. (a Belgian-French petroleum multi-national corporation formed from the merger of Total, Petrofina and Elf Aquitaine), which reportedly had been negotiating, prior to the U.S. invasion in March 2003, rich contracts with former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to develop and exploit the Majnoon and Nahr Umar oil fields in southern Iraq. Those regions are estimated to contain roughly a quarter of Iraq’s reserves. The contracts were on the verge of being signed in 1997, one year after the beginning of the UN’s Oil-for-Food program replaced U.S. sanctions on Iraq, when the French government intervened and stopped the deal. Paul Desmarais Jr., now chairman of Power Corp. (Paul Sr. retired in 1996, but is said to be active in the firm), sits on the board of Total, and Power director, François-Poncet, also sat on the board of Total’s predecessor firm, Totalfina Elf. Paribas also owned shares in Total as recently as 2000, records show.
Add up the facts that Power Corp. appears to be connected to an oil company that would benefit extensively if Saddam remained in power, with the bank appointed by the UN to help broker an Oil-for-Food program that appears to have been directly enriching Saddam, and which is being investigated for irregularities that may have abetted the wholesale corruption that eventually engulfed Oil-for-Food, and that Power’s owners have a professional and personal relationship with the man hired by the UN to investigate the corruption, and it’s no wonder that more and more questions are being asked about the firm.
The United Nations has refused to co-operate with the U.S. Congress investigations into the US$67-billion Oil-for-Food program and Security Council members Russia and France have refused to give Volcker the right to subpoena witnesses in the internal UN probe.
Mar. 13 - More on the U.N. Oil-For-Food scandal and the Volcker interim report: Volcker Panel to Correct Frechette Omission which is to say they will correct the report to include her name instead of referring to her only by title as they had when the report was first released.
So why was her name left out?
It's well known that the Volcker commission's executive director, Reid Morden, and Louise Frechette have had a "longstanding professional relationship" for 30 years, according to the Independent Inquiry Committee — dubbed the "Volcker commission" after its chief, former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker.FoxNews doesn't pull any punches:
Morden was Canada's deputy minister of foreign affairs in the 1990s. Frechette is U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's No. 2 at the international organization. But Frechette also was Canada's ambassador to the United Nations at the same time Morden was her boss.
The Volcker commission, however, says Frechette did not directly report to Morden in the Canadian Foreign Ministry. The commission offered its take on the Frechette-Morden association following a FOX News story last week.
Committee officials admit that Morden discussed working on the U.N.-commissioned investigation with Frechette before he took the job with Volcker but they insist the friendship has not influenced Volcker's work at all and that the investigation is being conducted in a thorough and impartial manner.They are following the Canadian model for citing conflict of interest, which is to airily state "I'm not in any conflict of interest!" to which the bobble-heads - including far too many in the news media up here - obediently assent. The Vocker Commission is investigating fraud which was enabled by that ploy and they caught are using it themselves. How bad is it when you have to investigate the investigators?
Congressional critics like Rep. Tim Murphy, who also is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that is investigating Oil-for-Food, has accused the investigation of having an unreported conflict of interest.That is self-evident only to Americans because we have a fairly simple rule which we apply in situations which may constitute a conflict of interest: if it even remotely might be construed as a conflict then it must be cited if only as a "potential" conflict of interest. Simple, right?
"One of the things that occurs when one is part of an investigation is, you disclose in the first page what your relationships are so it's very clear — it's very clear — if there's any potential conflict of interest," said the Pennsylvania Republican.
"The fact that in this report, they didn't even refer to her by name or by title, and it seems to be that there is some attempt here to hide that there is any link or relationship there, I think only heightens or magnifies the concerns here that there's a potential for a conflict of interest."
(Link via Kate, who does a search of Canadian media on Volcker-Frechette. Guess what she finds? As one of the commenters points out, odd that Canadians would be part of the investigating team as well as a subject of the investigation yet it not rank a mention up here. Maybe it will become a "Heritage Moment" some day. Or not.)
18:03 Canada Free Press is covering the Frechette connection, and is connecting dots:
Louise Fréchette joins the illustrious Canadian connection in the UN Oil-for-Food Program, where there is her former boss, Prime Minister Martin who replaced Prime Minister Jean Chretien. Jean Chretien’s daughter, France is married to Andre Desmarais, the son of Paul Desmarais. Desmarais is the chairman and Co-Chief Executive Officer of Canada's Power Corporation, and the largest shareholder and director of France's TotalFinalElf. TotalFinalElf was one of the largest benefactors of Oil-for-Food contracts. According to the Financial Post, "In 1974, Desmarais, Sr., made Martin president of Canada Steamship Lines and then in 1981, he made him spectacularly rich by selling the company to him and a partner for $180 million." As CFP previously reported, Canada, the seventh largest contributor to the United Nations, will not investigate the Oil-for-Food Program.(Link via a commenter at this post at The Shotgun, the blog of the Western Standard. (In case it isn't obvious, the Western Standard is also covering the U.N. Oil-for-Food scandal, aka UNSCAM. There are honest media up here.)
Mar. 1 - Investigations into UNSCAM have revealed a systematic attempt by the Deputy Secretary-General, Canadian Louise Frechette, to block results of audits into the Oil-for-Food program from the Security Council:
UNITED NATIONS — With U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan next up for review by Paul Volcker’s inquiry into the Oil-for-Food scandal, a crucial question is whether Volcker will expand upon information tying the scandal directly to the U.N. chief’s office — by way of Annan’s second-in command, Louise Frechette.Louise Frechette went to the U.N. after out of a long career with the Canadian civil service including a term as Canadian Ambassador to the U.N. 1992-1995. She became the first Deputy Sec.-Gen. of the U.N. in 1998. Is that sufficient Cancon to put this story on the CBC Evening News?
Four years into the seven-year Oil-for-Food program, with graft and mismanagement by then rampant, Frechette intervened directly by telephone to stop United Nations auditors from forwarding their investigations to the U.N. Security Council. This detail was buried on page 186 of the 219-page interim report Volcker’s Independent Inquiry Committee released Feb. 3.The article mentions that although the Volcker Commission interviewed Frechette, the results as well as her name were not published. During her tenure as Canadian Ambassador to the U.N., current Volcker executive director Reid Morden was the Canadian Deputy Minister.
This decision from within Annan’s office left only the Secretariat privy to the specifics of the waste, bungling and contractual breaches detailed by U.N. internal auditors in dozens of damning reports. The extent of what Annan’s office knew was not available either to the Security Council or the public until Congress finally forced the issue and the United Nations produced the reports in conjunction with a Volcker "briefing paper" in January.
Frechette’s actions stand in sharp contrast to the assertions of Annan and his public relations staff that the Security Council – and not the Secretariat – supervised the more than $110 billion Oil-for-Food program. Her decision, as documented by Volcker, also places responsibility squarely in the secretary-general’s office for obscuring mismanagement of the program from the Security Council.
The cover-up did not stop with Benon Sevan, the now-disgraced Oil-for-Food executive director, who reportedly blocked audits that originated lower in the chain of command. The obstruction went all the way up to Annan’s office on the 38th floor.
Frechette's intervention was disclosed by the Volcker committee as the result of an interview with Dileep Nair, head of the U.N.'s Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), the organization’s internal watchdog. In the year 2000, Nair’s audit department repeatedly urged that audits of Oil-for-Food be sent to the Security Council.
On Nov. 30, 2000, Nair’s top auditor sent a memo to Sevan informing him that despite his objections, the auditors planned to start sending reports on Oil-for-Food to the Security Council. By Nair’s account, what settled the issue was a telephone call from Frechette, who came down on the side of Sevan. After that, reports Volcker, Nair "abandoned the effort to report directly to the Security Council on [Oil-for-Food] matters."
When questioned about the telephone call at a recent press conference, Frechette said she had no recollection of it. “But I’m quite prepared to accept Mr. Nair’s recalling the conversation,” she told reporters. (Bolding added.)
That explains something else to me: why the name of former Canadian PM Jean Chretien and his ties to Paul Desmarais as well as Paribas and Total haven't been made more public.
So what did Frechette know and when did she know it?
Frechette had connections to a number of Oil-for-Food figures. She had direct oversight of both U.N. watchdog Nair and Oil-for-Food director Sevan, although both reported to the Secretary-General. .. Asked why Frechette was mentioned only by title, not by name, Morden refused to comment.Audits were blocked with the excuse that it would be a waste of money to audit a "program with an uncertain future" but evidently the temporary nature of the program was sufficient to spend $3 million to rent and renovate new officies for it.
I've already quoted too much from the news report, but Canadians who have followed the Adscam inquiries will probably recognize that some aspects of the failure to audit the Oil-for-Food program parallel those which allowed millions of dollars to be stolen in the name of national unity.
As with Adscam, the U.N. Oil-for-Food Program was introduced for a worthy goal, in the latter case to assist the people of Iraq who were harshly affected by the oil sanctions imposed when Saddam didn't meet his obligations under the cease-fire that ended Gulf War I.
As with Adscam, those administering the program reported directly to the top, i.e., the Secretary-General's office, not the U.N. Security Council.
And, as with Adscam, the U.N. Oil-for-Food Program was cynically manipulated to enrich individuals, too many of whom are connected with Jean Chretien.
Also, please keep in mind that there are no provisions to protect "whistleblowers" in the U.N.
The closing paragraph is particularly amusing:
Among other things, that audit found that Sevan had failed to hold any management meetings of his Oil-for-Food team for the previous two years. It remains to be explained how that fact had escaped the attention of Sevan’s direct supervisor, Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechette, or that of Kofi Annan himself.As with Adscam, ...
[Note: I've edited out the (search) markers in the Fox Report.]
Mar. 2 - Kate has kindly linked to this post, and has done some research which ties Volcker, Frechette, Morden, Desmarais and Maurice Strong. Sheesh, is anyone of influence in Canada not connected to Desmarais?
Naturally, I expect a major story on the CBC about these revelations, as well as outraged editorials in the Star and Globe and Mail. It shouldn't be too hard, as bloggers have done the digging.
Just imagine this was about Halliburton - I'm certain it would be plastered all over the front pages, but something with true Cancon can't summon a particle of interest. The words smug hypocrisy barely covers it. (And you folks in the USA think you have a problem with the myopia of MSM? Trust me, we've got you beat.)
... there has indeed been a Canadian making a difference in the world-and if The National wanted to do a 133-part special report on him, for once they’d have enough material. Most of us know Paul Desmarais as the . . . [those ellipses in original] well, let’s hold it there: most Canadians don’t know Paul Desmarais at all. You could stop the first thousand people walking down Yonge Street and I’ll bet no one would know who he is. But the few who do know him know him as the kingmaker behind Trudeau, Mulroney, Chrétien and Martin. Jean Chrétien’s daughter is married to Paul Desmarais’s son. Paul Martin was an employee of M. Desmarais’s Power Corp., and his Canada Steamship Lines was originally a subsidiary of Power Corp. that M. Desmarais put Mr. Martin in charge of. In other words, Paul Martin’s public identity--successful self-made businessman, not just a career pol, knows how to meet payroll, etc.--is entirely derived from the patronage of M. Desmarais.And down to the heart of it:
Imagine if Jenna Bush married the chairman of Halliburton’s son, and then George W. Bush was succeeded by a president who’d been an employee of Halliburton: Michael Moore’s next documentary would be buried under wall-to-wall Oscars and Palmes d’Or. But M. Desmarais has managed to turn Ottawa into a company town without anyone being aware of the company. .. Power Corp.’s other alumni range from Quebec premiers to Canada’s most prominent international diplomat, Maurice Strong. In fairness, you don’t have to work for M. Desmarais to reach the top of the greasy pole-Kim Campbell managed it, for about a week and a half.
we’re in the middle of the UN Oil-for-Fraud investigation, the all-time biggest scam, bigger than Enron and Worldcom and all the rest added together. And whaddaya know? The bank that handled all the money from the program turns out to be BNP Paribas, which tends to get designated by Associated Press and co. as a “French bank” but is, as it happens, controlled by one of M. Desmarais’s holding companies. That alone should cause even the droopiest bloodhound to pick up a scent: the UN’s banker for its Iraqi “humanitarian” program turns out to be (to all intents) Saddam’s favourite oilman.Read the whole thing.
On a (relatively) lighter note, as the President begins his European tour, Mark Steyn asks and answers the burning question of the day: What's US policy on Europe? No giggling.
What does all this mean? Nothing. In victory, magnanimity – and right now Bush can afford to be magnanimous, even if Europe isn't yet ready to acknowledge his victory. On Thursday, in a discussion of "the greater Middle East", the President remarked that Syria was "out of step". And, amazingly, he's right. Not so long ago, Syria was perfectly in step with the Middle East – it was the archetypal squalid stable Arab dictatorship. Two years on, Syria hasn't changed, but Iraq has, and, to varying degrees, the momentum in Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian Authority and Lebanon (where the Syrians have overplayed their hand) is also in the Bush direction. Boy Assad finds himself in the position of the unfortunate soldier in Irving Berlin's First World War marching song, "They Were All Out Of Step But Jim".
The EU isn't the Arab League, though for much of the past three years it's been hard to tell the difference. But it, too, is out of step. The question is whether the Europeans are smart enough, like the savvier Sunnis in Iraq, to realise it. The Washington Post's Fred Hiatt compared the President's inaugural speech with Gerhard Schröder's keynote address to the Munich Conference on Security Policy last week and observed that, while both men talked about the Middle East, terrorism and 21st-century security threats, Mr Bush used the word "freedom" 27 times while Herr Schröder uttered it not once; he preferred to emphasise, as if it were still March 2003 and he were Arab League Secretary-General, "stability" – the old realpolitik fetish the Administration has explicitly disavowed. It's not just that the two sides aren't speaking the same language, but that the key phrases of Mr Bush's vocabulary don't seem to exist in Chirac's or Schröder's.
By the Way, SteynOnline is off it's brief (?!) hiatus and open for your one-stop Steyn reading spot.
Feb. 23 - Austin Bay disagrees with Mark Steyn on the death of the West:
Steyn’s “bleakest last sentence” (to quote Roger Simon) is way too fin d’siecle. Steyn writes: “This week we’re toasting the end of an idea: the death of “the West".” Try and tell that to Ukraine and Poland– and for that matter, Denmark. Post- Theo van Gogh Holland may also object.Valid point. I too have to remind myself to distinguish between "Old" and "New" Europes.
Feb. 28 - Mark Steyn responds to Austin Bay here (scroll down.) Very worthwhile read.
Feb. 3 - Report Rips Management of Oil-for-Food and Kofi Annan has ordered disciplinary action (even though Sevan has already retired.) There is the possibility of legal action but in what court? The main victims are the Iraqi people but I doubt they'd be allowed to try him.
A partial transcript of Mr. Volcker's report to the Independent Inquiry Committee is here during which he explains what the report covers and what it does not.
Feb. 3 - I hope last night's State of the Union Address doesn't distract too much attention from the release of the interim Volcker Report scheduled for 3 p.m. today. One preview is in Judith Miller's report in the New York Times, Inquiry Faults U.N.'s Oil-for-Aid Program. Unfortunately, the interim report is to be printed in the Wall Street Journal and thus is behind a paid subscription wall.
I don't know how accurate the Miller piece is and prefer to wait until the interim report itself is more widely available before accepting paraphrases over statements contained in the report itself, but the consensus from different sources seems to be that the U.N. is guilty of gross mismanagement, allowing conflicts of interest and failing to meet its own guidelines in awarding oil contracts.
(At one point Miller calls the report an "essay," which is a red flag for me and why I'm not too comfortable with her analysis.)
The best coverage will in all likelihood be by the vigilant people at Friends of Saddam who were (naturally) on top of the story early this morning.
Some links for those who want to brush up on fairly recent developments in UNSCAM including questions about Volcker's possible conflict-of-interest centering on his connections with PowerCorp, Paribas and Total and revelations about Kojo Annan's role in the investigation:
Paul Volcker search results from Telegraph for the very curious (why the Telegraph? because they were on top of this story from the beginning and are more accessible than the WSJ);
From Fox: Oil-for-Food Probe Includes Annan's Son (Fox also has links to the Duelfer Report (in .pdf format) on that page);
Lastly, something that I think ties in with general questions about what constitutes a conflict of interest and full disclosure in the media as well as the public sphere, a transcript of a syposium on Bloggers, journalists and citing conflicts of interest which I feel by inference rebuts the argument that it was okay for Paul Volcker not to cite his conflict of interest because Annan didn't ask him to do so.
One caution: the investigation has reportedly not uncovered any evidence that U.N. officials actually accepted bribes, but getting requested documents remains difficult and whoever originally pointed out that this could far eclipse Enron has been proven prophetic.
I have the same question now as I had when this story first broke in 2003:
For what purpose, exactly, was the 2.2% administration fee levied by the U.N. on the Oil-for-Food Program?
Dec. 2 - The revelation that Kojo Annan continued to receive payments from Cotecna finally brought the U.N. Oil-for-Food scandal under the scrutiny of the mainstream media, and now that they're digging, they are finding things that have been known in the blogosophere for a while but seem new to them, including the involvement of some well known and well-connected Americans and companies which were named in the Duelfer Report: Marc Rich, Ben Pollner of Taurus Oil, ChevronTexaco, and ExxonMobil.
From ABC News: Americans' Role Eyed in U.N. Oil Scandal:
Former American fugitive Marc Rich was a middleman for several of Iraq's suspect oil deals in February 2001, just one month after his pardon from President Clinton, according to oil industry shipping records obtained by ABC News.The remainder of the item concerns the allegations about Kojo Annan.
And a U.S. criminal investigation is looking into whether Rich, as well as several other prominent oil traders, made illegal payments to Iraq in order to obtain the lucrative oil contracts.
Another broker was New York oil trader Ben Pollner, head of Taurus Oil, who investigators say handled several billion dollars worth of the transactions now under investigation.
Pollner told ABC News he paid no bribes or kickbacks to the Iraqi regime.
Rich is still living in Switzerland and unavailable for comment.
The roles of several American oil companies, including ChevronTexaco and ExxonMobil, are also under investigation. ChevronTexaco received subpoenas requesting information for two separate grand jury proceedings, and said they were cooperating fully with both investigations.
The U.N. oil-for-food corruption scandal only continues to grow in scope. Today, Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., who is leading the congressional investigation into the program, said that U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan should resign because the scandal occurred on his watch.
I always figured that American businessmen might have been part of the scandal, and am glad that those named are being investigated. The name Marc Rich, however, is likely to spark attempts to drag President Clinton into this to which I say: Don't.
Let's break some new ground and focus on just the facts without partisan bias and opportunist attempts to besmirch either Clinton. I witnessed the ugliness of the last four years of Bush-hating and the previous three years of Clinton-hating and I. Am. Sick. Of. It.
(ABC link via Instapundit.)
Nov. 26 - Claudia Rosett, who has determinedly investigated the corrupt U.N. Oil-for-Food Program for years, has information that may put Kofi Annan personally in a direct conflict-of-interest. Although his son Kojo was said to have left Cotecna in late 1998, some weeks before the comapny won the U.N. contract to check imports into Iraq under the U.N. Oil-for-Food Program, Rosett's article in the New York Sun reveals that Annan's Son Took Payments Through 2004 from Cotecna:
The younger Annan stopped working for Cotecna in late 1998, but it now turns out that he continued to receive money from Cotecna not only through 1999, as recently reported, but right up until February of this year. The timing coincides with the entire duration of Cotecna's work for the U.N. oil-for-food program. It now appears the payments to the younger Annan ended three months after the U.N., in November, 2003, closed out its role in oil-for-food and handed over the remains of the program to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad.Conflict-of-interest guidelines are far from uniform as are those for full disclosure, but there is seemingly a conflict in the information that has been given out about Kojo Annan's financial relationship with Cotecna and the dates which have been mis-reported are quite significant.
This latest bombshell involving the secretary-general's son was confirmed Wednesday by Kofi Annan's spokesman, Fred Eckhard, in response to this reporter's query, based on information obtained elsewhere. In an email, Mr. Eckhard wrote: "I was able to reach Kojo's lawyer this morning. He confirms that Kojo Annan received payments from Cotecna as recently as February 2004. The lawyer said that these payments were part of a standard non-competition agreement, under which the decision as to whether to continue the payments or not was up to Cotecna."
Mr. Eckhard added that, according to Kojo Annan's lawyer, the information has "been reported" to the U.N.-authorized inquiry into oil-for-food, led by a former Federal Reserve chairman, Paul Volcker.
Labeled as compensation for Kojo Annan's agreeing not to compete with Cotecna's business in West Africa, the post-employment payments were in the amount of $2,500 per month, according to another source with access to the documents. If the payments were continuous over the slightly more than five-year period involved, that would have totaled more than $150,000.
Cotecna officials, who this past April received a gag letter from the U.N. Secretariat, did not respond to queries from The New York Sun about why the company continued its non-competition payments to Kojo Annan for more than five years, instead of the one year previously reported. Neither did the company answer a question about why the payments apparently stopped this past February - just after the oil-for-food scandal erupted into the headlines following allegations in a Baghdad newspaper that the program was massively corrupt. Cotecna earlier this year denied any wrongdoing, saying that Kojo Annan's portfolio involved West Africa, not the U.N. or Iraq. Kojo Annan's lawyer at the London-based firm Schillings said the younger Annan is cooperating with the Volcker inquiry, but would not comment to the press on his payments from Cotecna.
There is more, so read the article in entirety.
Nov. 30 - 15:35: Kofi Annan has said he was unaware that the payments had continued and expressed his disappointment.
Nov. 22 - Salim Mansur has another column in which his gift of restoring order to the tumult of individual news stories and thus providing a focus proves invaluable. In A scandal even bigger than (lack of) WMD he pulls together the threads in Dr. Mahdi Obeidi's book The Bomb in My Garden, the Duelfer Report, the Oil-for-Food scandal, Rwanda, the pre-war bickering in the U.N. Security Council and "inverse proportion of rage":
From the killing fields of Rwanda to the killing fields of Iraq, the UN was not an innocent bystander, and Kofi Annan, the man who runs it, has much to answer for.Reflexive reverence for the U.N. and automatic dismissal of anything said by U.S. officials may be responsible for more deaths than otherwise humane people can stomach.
The great irony in all of this is the inverse proportion of rage against America's liberation of Iraq by non-Iraqi Arabs and Muslims and the Michael Moore crowd in the West, to the rage of Iraqis, as Obeidi narrates, against those who kissed and danced with the devil incarnate in Baghdad.
Oct. 25 - More on UNSCAM: AP EXCLUSIVE: Iraqis reveal in secret interviews how Saddam manipulated oil-for-food program. In addition to the information already contained in the Duelfer Report about the use oil vouchers to enlist support for the lifting of sanctions, a Congressional committee has gathered evidence of further corruption:
One investigator described the exempt list as the equivalent of the list in Duelfer's report of oil voucher recipients, but in this case for goods imported under the U.N. program.There were also companies black-listed:
"Until now, it had been thought that only vouchers for oil were handed out, but due to disclosures by Iraqi officials from the Ministry of Trade, we now understand that the practice was spread even further," said the investigator, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Companies on Saddam's special lists got vouchers giving them priority for deals in humanitarian goods under oil-for-food, or to act as middlemen for companies providing goods.
Some Iraqi officials confirmed the lists were crafted to reward companies from countries supporting Iraqi political goals, especially the lifting of U.N. sanctions, investigators said.
"These lists illustrate how Saddam Hussein cynically manipulated and corrupted the oil-for-food program," said Hyde [Chair of the House International Relations Committee Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill.] "The fact, disclosed in the Duelfer report, that some countries based their Iraq policies on these corrupt practices is shameful."
The exempt list came from an official at the Iraqi Ministry of Trade and was authenticated separately by over a dozen current and former Iraqi officials, investigators said.
Over 250 companies appear on Saddam's blacklist, obtained from an Iraqi Health Ministry official, according to congressional investigators. The document also details reasons the companies lost favor with the Iraqi government. Dozens of the companies are blasted for "dealing with the Zionist entity," apparently referring to Israel.The Russian oil company Lukoil seemingly scored a hat trick:
One contract in English obtained by AP from investigators required companies given deals with the Iraqi government to sign a pledge that says, "We hereby confirm our commitment and pledge not to deal with Israel."
American companies Johnson & Johnson, Hewlett-Packard Co., and Eli Lilly and Co., make the list for this reason and Agilent Technologies Inc. -- which was spun off from Hewlett-Packard -- is accused by Vice President Ramadan of changing its name from Hewlett-Packard to "enter into Israel," according to the document.
Lukoil, which reportedly clashed with Baghdad after refusing to break sanctions to begin development of an Iraqi oil field, is the only company to make the oil voucher list, the exempt list and the blacklist. Its entry onto the blacklist is dated October 2002. In December 2002, Iraq announced the cancelation of a $3.7 billion contract with Lukoil to develop the oil field.(Link via Instapundit.)
The AP story is also up at the ABC News website.
Oct. 22 - Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX,) the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, sent a letter to President Chirac urging him to share any information from investigations into allegations of corruption by French businesses and politicians in the U.N. Oil-for-Food program which was detailed in the Duelfer Report.
From the letter:
The Report cites compelling documentary and testimonial evidence suggesting that France's policies toward the Program, and Iraq in general, may have been motivated by economic self-interest. According to documents obtained by Mr. Duelfer's team from Iraq's State Oil Marketing Organization, several French politicians received allocations of Iraqi oil, including Charles Pasqua, France's former Interior Minister, and Jean-Bernard Mérimée, the former French ambassador to the United Nations. Moreover, Iraq's former Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz claimed to have personally awarded several French individuals substantial oil allotments, adding that these individuals "understood that resale of the oil was to be reciprocated through efforts to lift UN sanctions, or through opposition to American initiatives within the Security Council." Finally, recovered Iraqi Intelligence Service ("IIS") documents reveal that Saddam's regime "targeted a number of French individuals that the Iraqi's [sic] thought had close relations to French President Chirac, including, according to the Iraqi assessment, the official spokesperson of President Chirac's re-election campaign, two reported 'counselors' of President Chirac, and two well-known French businessmen." These IIS documents also describe a May 2002 meeting between a representative of Iraq's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a French parliamentarian, during which, "The French politician assured the Iraqi that France would use its veto in the UNSC against any American decision to attack Iraq, according to the IIS memo."As has been noted before, one has to wonder if the French were against the war or on the other side. (Okay, I don't really wonder, but I'm trying to appear objective.)
This Committee also has concerns that French companies may have been selling weapons to Iraq during the sanctions period, in direct violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 661. According to the Report, Mr. Duelfer and his team found evidence that as early as 1998 French companies received "offers and contracts from Iraq for conventional weapons systems and [engaged in] negotiations for possible WMD-related mobile laboratories." For instance, recovered documents show that the French company Lura supplied a tank carrier to the Iraqi Ministry of Defense in late 1998 or 1999 and that a French expert "arrived in Iraq in September 1999 to provide training and offer technical expertise on the carrier." Moreover, by 1999, "French firms displayed a willingness to supply parts for Iraqi conventional military items, mainly related to aircraft." IIS documents reveal that the Deputy General Manager of SOFEMA, a French company, planned to visit Iraq in January 2000 on behalf of a number of French military companies to "seek possible trading between the two countries" concerning Iraqi air defense capabilities. These efforts continued right up until Operation Iraqi Freedom ("OIF"). The Report notes that in late December 2002 Iraq "initiated efforts to acquire replacement parts for the Roland II Surface to air missile system, valves for Iraq's air defense system, and various other high technology items with military and battlefield applications" from the French Thompson Company and that Mr. Duelfer's team "found evidence of coordination on this procurement up until 23 days before OIF."
Speaking of being on the other side, the failure by much of the main stream media to report the facts contained in the Duelfer Report on UNSCAM couldn't be due to Kerry's pretense that the French and Germans are allies who would have joined us in Iraq had President Bush only been nicer, could it?
I'd love to link to what the Canadian mainstream media is saying about the ongoing revelations about Oil-for-Palaces, but I haven't seen any items.
Over at the Shotgun, Kate says of the failure of the media to cover the bigger issues uncovered by the report that It's Not Apathy, It's Malpractice. She's being much too generous; I'd call it malfeasance, which my dictionary defines as misconduct or wrongdoing; especially wrongdoing that is illegal or contrary to official obligations. Of course, my definition won't apply once the MSM types abandon their posture of being non-partisan.
Oct. 19 - This should be interesting: UN oil for food chief faces inquiry into property deals:
American prosecutors are preparing charges against Benon Sevan, the former head of the United Nations oil for food programme, who has been accused of accepting millions of dollars in kickbacks from Saddam Hussein's regime.Playing both sides against the middle does have its drawbacks, it would seem.
Congressional investigators examining alleged corruption in the programme disclosed that Mr Sevan's diplomatic immunity would not prevent an indictment being issued. Mr Sevan has consistently denied any wrongdoing.
"We have tried to find out what part he had and we've been working to lift the lid on what he did," said one official on the US Congress International Relations committee. "My understanding is that we can indict him without lifting diplomatic immunity. That's what we did with Noriega."
Former officials in Iraq's state oil company, Somo, have alleged to investigators reporting to the International Relations committee that Mr Sevan was "sacked" on Saddam's orders in 2001 for failing to keep promises to campaign on ending sanctions.
"The basic understanding of these officials is that Saddam felt short-changed by this guy who took the money but did not deliver," said one committee staffer.
A spokesman for the Southern district of Manhattan's federal prosecutor's office said it was "too early" to comment on its indictment efforts over Mr Sevan. Officials are, however, examining the diplomat's extensive property portfolio in the United States.I wonder how this will proceed.
According to records, properties registered in his name include a flat in Manhattan, a house in the Hamptons on Long Island, a house in the nearby district of Rye, and a house on New Jersey's "Gold Coast". The Congressional official said: "It's an issue that he has property in the Hamptons and Manhattan."
July 3 - Followed a link from Instapundit to a Washington Times article in which Paul Bremer denies trying to block the investigation into the UN Oil-for-Food (Bremer says charge of blocking oil-for-food probe 'nonsense'):
In April, Mr. Bremer cut short a probe begun by Mr. Chalabi, who was chairman of the council's finance committee, and the international accounting firm KPMG. He said in the interview he wanted the investigation to be run by the Board of Supreme Audit, an independent body of auditors which had operated during Saddam's reign.Then over over to Friends of Saddam to read their analysis but was hit broadside with this:
The audit board then held its own expedited bid process, awarding the bulk of the investigation work to Ernst & Young, another major international accounting firm, on May 13.
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The Iraqi official heading the investigation into alleged corruption in the United Nations oil-for-food program was killed in a bomb attack earlier this week, officials familiar with the probe said on Saturday.
Ihsan Karim, head of the Board of Supreme Audit, died in hospital after a bomb placed under one of the cars in his convoy exploded on Thursday, the officials said.
June 23 - Op-ed by William Safire in today's NY Times with some attention to the Congressional investigation into the U.N. Oil-for-Food program - UNSCAM to most, and The Great Cash Cow to others.
One whistleblower's account states that the U.N.'s contracted inspector, Cotecna of Switzerland, was the key to getting luxury items off-loaded at the port of Umm Qasr:
"Ships were lined up at the port of Umm Qasr, stacks of containers already onshore waiting for inspection. You won't believe the grease being paid. The usual suspects got preferential treatment when the U.N. bosses in New York called the BNP [Paribas] bank to get Cotecna to issue a C.O.A. [Confirmation of Arrival] to release the money."The Congressional committee has been more aggressive than expected:
However, my call for a Congressional subpoena to overcome his [Annan's] attempt to limit investigation to his internal Volcker committee has flushed out a fact not hitherto disclosed. Annan's press aide complained to The Times that a subpoena had already been served secretly on BNP Paribas (the initials once stood for Banque Nationale de Paris) by the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.I think it somewhat difficult for people who live in countries run by Parliaments to understand what having separate legislative and executive branches really entails. (The reverse is true as well: people in the USA find it hard to comprehend the Parliament system in which the Prime Minister is both head of the legislature and the executive.) In this instance, the fact that the White House doesn't want to offend the U.N. doesn't necessarily mean that it will interfere to keep the Senate from offending the U.N. The President has far more to lose by offending Congress than the U.N.
Although the U.N. had warned its bank, as well as Cotecna, the oil monitor Saybolt and all its other oil-for-food contractors, not to cooperate with anybody but Paul Volcker — and had blown off the House International Relations Committee's requests — Annan's advisers knew it would be unseemly and foolhardy to insist that its bank fight the Senate in court.
With his subpoena and investigation thus publicly revealed by the U.N., Chairman Norm Coleman of Minnesota, a Brooklyn-born Republican, felt free to take my call. "This is a major priority for us," he says. "There's a lot of stuff to cover, a big universe of documents, and we're being aggressive about it. Yes, Cotecna, Saybolt, all of them."
He sent out four "chairman's letters," countersigned by the ranking Democrat, Carl Levin, in early June. One was to the U.S. State Department for the minutes of the "661 committee" meetings at the U.N., which reviewed oil-for-food contracts (though not yet for copies of the contracts themselves). Another to the Government Accounting Office, which had first estimated the skimming at $10 billion. Another to Paul Bremer in Baghdad for copies of documents being turned over to the interim government — and the Senate still awaits a response; apparently the White House doesn't want to offend the U.N. Finally, a friendly letter to Annan about the subpoena that would require his bank to open its letter-of-credit files.
But this is where it really gets interesting:
But since this involves possible fraud, bribery and larceny on a grand scale, where is law enforcement? Interesting: the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, David Kelley, served subpoenas last week on Exxon Mobil, ChevronTexaco and Valero about Iraqi oil purchases. That deals with the income side of the scandal, the money for Iraq (less kickbacks) supposedly to buy food.In conclusion, this somewhat pathetic countrstroke from the U.N. bureaucrats:
I suspect Kelley was moved to empanel a grand jury by probable competition from the Manhattan district attorney, Robert Morganthau, on the scandal's payoff side. These two offices compete, and Morganthau's office has expertise on global banking.
In a counterattack, our global servants hired an accountant to warn of "fraudulent acts" by the U.S. after it took over the U.N.'s mismanaged Iraqi oil account. Now, that will get media coverage.I wish I could believe that this is a belated recognition of accountability, but I don't see any pigs flying up here today ...
June 15 - U.N. Staff Outrage:
Many U.N. employees fear reprisals from their bosses if they step forward with information on the Iraq oil-for-food scandal or report other allegations of corruption, according to a shocking internal survey released yesterday.The U.N. does not have provisions to protect whistle blowers. Tell me again how this organization rates respect or credibility?
A recent poll of 6,086 employees and managers released on the U.N. Web site revealed that the staff has little faith in the world body leadership's commitment to ethics and integrity and that most believe that when allegations of wrongdoing surface, they are not properly handled.
June 12 - From the Daily Telegraph (UK) comes a report on Danish UN aid worker Michael Soussan who, in his testimony before a US Congressional probe into UNSCAM, blasted the UN's 'shameful silence' over the evils of Saddam:
To Mr Soussan's dismay, the most vocal critics worked alongside him at the UN. The genocide charge was levelled by an assistant secretary general in charge of humanitarian work in Iraq.Can we say "easy targets?" Of course we can. And anyone who defends the USA will be accused of being brainwashed, bought-off, racist, or, worst of all, defying the international community. Small wonder these bureaucrats took the easy road even if they knew it was a lie. But that's not moral equivalence, that's just plain immoral.
His colleagues blamed the Security Council - especially the United States and Britain - for the suffering of Iraqis, ignoring evidence that Saddam was stealing food from his own people's mouths.
They could hardly ignore the wickedness of Saddam's regime. Foreign UN staff could sense the terror in Iraqis they met, and saw for themselves the gilded excesses of the Ba'athist elite.
But somehow that wickedness was taken as a given, then promptly smothered in a warm soup of moral relativism.
"We have a notion of sovereignty at the UN that doesn't distinguish between governments that deserve sovereignty and those that do not. And that really skews our moral compass," Mr Soussan told The Telegraph.
"[My colleagues] devoted most of their moral outrage towards the United States and the UK," he said. (Emphasis added)
Mr Soussan does not deny the pain caused by sanctions from the first Gulf war in 1991 to 1996, before oil-for-food sales began. A quarter of a million children died, by conservative estimates.One of Osama bin Laden's justifications for declaring jihad on the USA was that we were responsible for the murder of Iraqi babies, something that has yet to be properly refuted in the international, and, more importantly, the Arab press.
But during those five years, it was Saddam who refused offers to sell his oil and import humanitarian goods under UN supervision. "[He was] banking that images of dying babies would eventually force the international community to lift the sanctions altogether," Mr Soussan told Congress.
By 2000, there was no limit on the amount of oil Saddam was allowed to sell, and few limits on the civilian goods he was allowed to buy.
Iraq was under sanctions only "to the extent that they couldn't import military goods", he said.
Yet still Saddam claimed sanctions were killing 5,000 infants a month, parading tiny coffins in the streets to ram the point home. "The UN did not stand up to this propaganda. It cowered in the face of this notion that the sanctions were killing Iraqi babies," Mr Soussan said. (Emphasis added)
The failure of the U.N. to take responsiblilty and tell the truth is responsible for much of the hatred of the world towards the USA, but we are supposed to "take it" for the good of an international community which has no values, no morals, but does have some dandy committees.
Iraqi babies no longer die due to malnutrition, watered-down drugs, expired pharmaceuticals and lack of equipment in medical facilities, but that fact has nothing to do with the U.N. and everything to do with action that was condemned by the U.N.
UN staff did not speak out when Saddam refused to buy high protein foods recommended by UN experts, or spent oil-for-food millions on sports stadiums, or broadcasting equipment for his propaganda machine.So much for that which some call international law which is used as a club to beat upon democratic countries like the USA but not Ghana, Sudan or Congo.
The UN turned a blind eye to signs that Saddam was bribing cronies at home and abroad with black market oil vouchers, and was skimming billions from funds meant for food and medicine, demanding secret, 10 per cent "kickbacks" on humanitarian contracts.
The UN recently claimed it "learned of the 10 per cent kickback scheme only after the end of major combat operations" in 2003.
A lie, said Mr Soussan, recalling the hapless Swedish company that called in 2000, seeking UN help after being asked to pay kickbacks. The Swedes' plea was quickly lost in red tape and inter-office turf wars. After a "Kafka-esque" flurry of internal memos, the Swedes were told to complain to their own government.
Now top UN officials are under investigation. Mr Soussan hopes the shock will force a major debate on how to deal with rogue regimes.Again, that's not moral equivalence, that's outright immorality. At long last, the USA, Great Britain and other members of the coalition didn't deal with the devil, we removed him from power. Isn't that what moral people do when they confront evil?
"The oil-for-food programme was a deal with the devil. The problem is, that we didn't act as if this was the devil, we acted as if this was a legitimate regime," he said.
If such major questions have to wait, a little more transparency would help, for starters.The U.N. just can't catch a break this week, as it's failure in Serbia has been pushed back to the fore with the admission by Serbian officials that the Srebrenica massacre was carried out by Serbian security officials which in turn stimulated the memory of the failure of Dutch U.N. peacekeepers to protect those who appealed to them for help at the U.N. compound, a failure for which the Dutch government at the time apologized and then resigned.
"If the UN had just stood up once, held a high-level press conference, and said, 'We think the Iraqi government is cheating its people', then the UN would not be in the mess it is now," he said. "It would then be an accuser, rather than the accused." (Emphasis added)
Iran is piling on: they have rejected any further restrictions on their weapon programs and demands to be recognized as a nuclear power:
Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi accused France, Britain and Germany -- who have drawn up a tough new document that accuses Iran of not cooperating with the International Atomic Energy Agency -- of bowing to pressure from the United States.See what I mean? Iran, which is known for its violation of human rights and a known sponsor of terror, need only pull the anti-US card and millions of progressive, peaceloving people will line up to defend Iran's right to terrorize the world - and Israel - with a nuclear holocaust.
Some of those nuts live in the United States. One of those nuts in running for president: Senator John Kerry, who actually believes that we can pursue detente with North Korea and Iran as we attempted with the Soviet Union.
President Reagan's final gift to the USA may have been the timing of his death which not only coincided with D-Day, a major military offensive in the fight against fascism, but also led to the recollection that he defeated communism by his firm resolve to stand up to the Soviet Union and match them missile for missile rather than meekly pretending they were anything less than evil.
Detente failed. Unyielding principles won, and we were dealing with comparatively sane people in the Soviet Union. Would anyone dare to make the same claims about the North Korean or Iranian governments?
Canadians who are pretending to be terrified of social conservatives coming to power in Canada would, if they were honest, be lying prostrate on the floor in a cold faint at the mere thought of Iranian social conservatives but they aren't because it's all about the propaganda, not the reality.
People will believe what they chose to believe, but I have more faith in real people (with names) than the all too prevalent "sources" that dominate much of reporting these days. An excerpt from that CPA briefing:
Q: Owen Fay, Fox News. Dan, Ahmed Chalabi has just given a press conference in which he said that at least some of the documents seized today were related to the oil-for-food investigation. Could you tell us the primary thrust of the reason behind this raid and how significant a role the oil-for-food is playing?The briefing also explains the relationship between the Iraqi police, investigations, and at what point Bremer takes a role.
MR. SENOR: I would refer you to the Iraqi police on that issue. My understanding is they are the ones who seized any documents. It was an Iraqi-led investigation, it was an Iraqi-led raid. It was the result of Iraqi arrest warrants.
In today's CPA briefing, Senor said
There was some news reporting last night that in the Iraqi police investigation -- sorry, in the Iraqi police operation yesterday morning, there were officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency involved in the operation. I just want to categorically deny that that occurred. There were no officials from the CIA, there were no officials from the FBI involved in the Iraqi police investigation. I just was hoping to clear that up today. I don't know if it was misreporting or misinformation, but whatever it was, it was incorrect.And during the questions, this:
Q: Dan, which government agency or which government contract did the American plainclothes civilians, who were armed, who accompanied the soldiers, work for -- in the Chalabi raid?David Frum has an post on the Chalabi raid and, in fact, Chalabi himself here.
MR. SENOR: They were -- sure. Well, first, let me say that there were no officials from the Central Intelligence Agency. There were no officials there from the Federal Bureau of Investigations. There were no Defense Intelligence Agency officials there. There were private contractors who work for the Ministry of Interior. And their job is primarily -- my understanding is, their job is the professionalization of the Iraqi police service. So they were there to observe and advise the Iraqi police during this operation, as they do on numerous operations. They are the only non-Iraqis, to my understanding, that were there.
There was one woman, an -- who was American, who identified herself as an employee of the Iraqi National Congress, who was there when the police service arrived on the scene.
GEN. KIMMITT: And Dexter, you said, escorted the "soldiers." I know you meant the Iraqi police.
There were U.S. soldiers that were involved in the outer cordon. The only purpose in this operation was that if there was any collateral violence that was associated with this, with their responsibility to maintain a safe and secure environment throughout Baghdad, that's what they were there for. But, however, the actual police operation was one conducted by the Iraqi police.
He nails the underlying issue:
It is puzzling to me that the same people who refuse to believe the US government when it says its forces hit a terrorist safe house, not a wedding partner, are all credulity when anonymous sources inside that same government declare that Ahmed Chalabi is the center of a vast sinister conspiracy.David Frum makes a number of sensible points about all the rumours and unknowns that dominate this story, including those that the raid was connected to seizing documents that related to the Oil-for-Food (UNSCAM) investigation.
I think I'll wait until I actually know something before I pass judgement.
I've seen those men in the white suits on the rare airing of Australian football. It's freaking surreal.
May 18 - Devastating summary of the connection between UNSCAM, the Desmarais family and PM Paul Martin in the Canada Free Press Cover Story (short-life link) starting with these:
First came the shock that United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan’s son, Kojo was connected to the ill-fated program. According to the New York Post On-Line edition, family members of former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali are officers of a Panamanian-registered company in which Benon Sevan, a UN assistant Secretary General, appointed to administer the oil-for-food program, had a connection.Claude Hankes-Drielsma is the man who retained the accounting firm KMPG to audit the UN Oil for Food program which was key to forcing Annan to agree to first an internal and then an independent inquiry on the program.
The Post said it got its information about the Boutros-Ghali connection from Claude Hankes-Drielsma, a British businessman and advisor to the Iraqi governing council.
Just weeks ago, Boutros-Ghali was awarded the prestigious Order of Canada. Only nine foreigners have been so honoured, and even as the former UN Secretary General was receiving the award, some Canadian officials were calling it "strange" because the Rwandan genocide happened under his watch as UN Secretary General.Remember Romeo Dallaire?
It was under Boutros-Ghali’s direction that the UN 420-page Our Global Neighbourhood, which produced the blueprint for global governance, was published.The involvement of Arthur Millholland is unproven; Martin ties to the Desmarais family is common knowledge.
When Boutros-Ghali left the UN, he went on to head the Francophonie, the organization of French-speaking nations.
It gets worse.
Canadians are also said to have made oil deals with Saddam, and ties with the Canadian Company involved go all the way up to Prime Minister Paul Martin’s office.
In the Canadian connection, it’s a man called Paul Desmaris (sic). Desmaris is the largest shareholder and director of TotalFinaElf, the largest corporation in France, which held tens of billions of dollars in contracts with the deposed regime of Saddam Hussein.The connection between Martin and Desmarais has never been in dispute, but utter the magic word Halliburton to stimulate the "no blood for oil" folks up here, not TotalFinaElf.
Martin replaced Prime Minister Jean Chretien last December. Chretien’s daughter, France is married to Andre Desmaris, son of Paul Desmaris.
Martin maintains powerful UN connections through Annan’s special UN advisor Maurice Strong. In fact, Strong, who also happens to be the architect of the Kyoto Protocol, hired Martin in the 1960s to work for Paul Desmaris Sr.
According to respected Financial Post columnist Diane Francis, "In 1974, Desmaris made Martin president of Canada Steamship Lines and then in 1981, he made him spectacularly rich by selling the company to him and a partner for $180 million. Martin’s shipping company is estimated to be worth about $424 million, making him the 63rd richest person in Canada."
Shortly after his arrival in the Prime Minister’s office, Martin gave the company to his three sons.
But imagine these business connections happened in the USA. But of course you don't have to imagine, because we've been subjected to the phrases "Bush's oil buddies" and "Cheney and his former company Halliburton" relentlessly. Why do Canada's prime ministers get a free pass?
I just don't get Canadian politics or the media. Except for the occasional Diane Francis column in the Financial Post, and to echo a National Post column on this theme by Elizabeth Nickson last January (no permalinks to the original source) this is a story that seemingly generates no interest or outrage.
I'm sorry to say this, but this is perhaps the Great Divide between Americans and Canadians. I'm at a loss to explain it, and maybe I'm wrong, but I just can't imagine that these kinds of business relationships would be ignored by either the media or the electorate in the USA.
Americans are not always that well informed either. Here I am getting increasingly concerned about Bremer's obstruction of the IGC invesigation of UNSCAM, an investigation about which few Americans are even aware (unless they read the NY Post, Wall Street Journal or Washington Times. Or are FNC viewers.)
Roger Simon has an explanation for Bremer's obstruction - of sorts.
Via Instapundit, who has an ouch-worthy conclusion.
Friends of Saddam also linked to this item, and has a category for Canadian connections to UNSCAM.
May 6 - A bill was introduced to the Senate yesterday to investigate possible corruption in the U.N. Oil for food program (GOP Senators want oil-for-food probe.)
The bill proposes that cuts to USA contributions made to the U.N. be made unless a full accounting is made of the program.
The bill was introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.)
May 3 - From Instapundit, there are indications that the kickbacks Saddam under the U.N. Oil for Food Program (UNSCAM) were far higher than 10%:
In one of the many deals funded by UN-supervised oil exports from Iraq, a delivery of cameras and audiovisual equipment for the culture ministry - sent as "humanitarian" items, under a loophole - was valued at 100 per cent above its true cost.
According to new documents recovered in Baghdad, multi-million pound deals with the public works ministry for sanitation and water filtration equipment were often marked up by as much as 30 per cent.
From this discussion at Roger Simon's blog, Did journalists and news agencies receive bribes from Saddam? That questions has been raised, and despite ancedotal evidence, not answered. Read the comments, too.
A book, Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures, a True Story from Hell on Earth, is due to the published next month. It was written by Heidi Postlewait and Andrew Thomson, who are still on the UN payroll, and Kenneth Cain, who is now a writer and the two employees could be fired because of it.
The U.N. doesn't have whistle-blower protection regulations:
Under UN staff rules, writers have to submit manuscripts for scrutiny. Authors can be disciplined if their work is not approved but they insist on publication.
I missed Kofi Annan'a appearance on Meet the Press yesterday; it looks like NBC caught him off guard with a memo dated April 14 which Benon Sevan sent out (presumably while vacationing in Australia?) which could be read as an attempt to obstruct the investigation.
The transcript for the program is here.
Update: A U.N. spokeman defends the letter here.
April 30, 2004 -- WASHINGTON - The State Department's No. 2 official said yesterday that those guilty of corruption in the U.N. oil-for-food program "ought to hang."What did I tell you? Give 'em enough rope ...
What I didn't expect was for Canadian PM Paul Martin to distance himself from the U.N., especially so soon after Kofi Annan addressed Parliament to a warm and admiring audience, and the Davos conference where Martin said:
Annan will be the first secretary general of the UN to address Parliament in the organization's 59-year existence. He was invited to the capital before U.S. President George W. Bush, something that Martin said he did deliberately to show "that Canada has a very important role to play in the world."Yeah, I never got the logic of that statement either.
And what about the U.N. University for Peace that is to be installed in Toronto?
Maybe Martin took flip-flop lessons from Sen. Kerry ...
May 3 - 13:47: Roger Simon and commenters have more on Martin's speech here.
Apr. 29 - From Niles Lathem of the NY Post, U.N. Oil papers vanish:
April 29, 2004 -- WASHINGTON - The vast majority of the United Nations' oil-for-food contracts in Iraq have mysteriously vanished, crippling investigators trying to uncover fraud in the program, a government report charged yesterday.Jefferson Morely in The Washington Post has a link-filled news article about the U.N. Oil for Food Program (although most of his links are to news items that bloggers have already covered in Australia, Britain, the U.S. and even Millholland's interview with the Globe and Mail) but also items from Vietnam and the Netherlands.
The General Accounting Office report, presented at a congressional hearing into the scandal-plagued program, determined that 80 percent of U.N. records had not been turned over.
The world body claims it transferred all information it had - including 3,059 contracts worth about $6.2 billion for delivery of food and other civilian goods to the post-Saddam governing body, the Coalition Provisional Authority.
But the GAO report also found that a database the U.N. transferred to the authority was "unreliable because it contained mathematical and currency errors in calculation of contract costs," the report found.
Morely takes the "Bush needs the U.N. so doesn't welcome a scandal" line but my observations of the President have been that he adheres to a time honoured American custom: Give them enough rope and they'll hang themselves.
(Links from Roger L. Simon post UNSCAM should not be idelogical.)
20:34: And from Instapundit, an article from the Washington Times GAO denied access to oil-for-food audits. The internal audits of the oil for food program were only shown to Benon Sevan and that the GAO request to examine those audits was refused on the basis that they were "internal documents."
I don't know how far this will go, but the U.S. has one advantage:
Rep. Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican, said he was considering legislation that would tie the U.S. contribution to the U.N.'s budget — 22 percent of the international body's total funding — to cooperation in the oil-for-food probe.To say the least.
Several Republican lawmakers said the world body's management of the program called into question its competence to help in the political reconstruction of post-Saddam Iraq.
Apr. 28 - CNN has taken note of the breaking scandal over the U.N. Oil-for-food program by reporting Annan's defence of his and U.N. inaction by claiming they had no mandate to stop the smuggling and the corruption was not under their control. Annan lashes out at oil-for-food critics:
In his strongest comments to date on the burgeoning oil-for-food scandal, Annan said U.N. officials were blamed for Saddam's smuggling of oil and a variety of other misdeeds that they had no way of controlling.Mr. Annan, you could have refused to approve Saddam's purchases and told the UNSC that you refused to continue the farce.
"We had no mandate to stop oil smuggling," Annan told a news conference. "They were driving the trucks through northern Iraq to Turkey. The U.S. and the British had planes in the air. We were not there."
He called some of the comments he read "constructive and thoughtful." But he said: "Others have been outrageous and exaggerated. In fact, when you look at it, if you read their reports, it looks as if the Saddam regime had nothing to do with it. They did nothing wrong. It was all the U.N."
You could have been more honest in the run up to the war instead of claiming that containment was working.
But you did none of those things, and did everything you could to keep Saddam in power and the sanctions in place.
Further down in the page is what will probably be the line of the U.N.'s defenders, that the US and UK held their noses at the corruption in order to keep the sanctions in place.
A stellar piece of reporting by the always objective CNN.
Apr. 29 - 17:17 Ozguru shows the difference one word makes. Wonderful and pointed.
Apr. 28 - The Australian carries an opinion piece by James Morrow on UNSCAM, UN apologists remain silent on oil scandal which raises some points U.N. apologists and the left might eventually have to answer.
Apr. 27 - The testimony by Claudia Rosett on the U.N. Oil for Food program before the House Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats, and International Relations is up.
Apr. 28 - 18:13: Dick Morris in today's NY Post writes How to Buy a French Veto:
ANYONE who pines for genuine international multilateralism would do well to follow the bribes now being uncovered in the United Nations' Oil-for- Food scandal.You just know where he's going. Keep the pressure on.
Why did France and Russia oppose efforts to topple Saddam Hussein's regime? And why did they press constantly, throughout the '90s, for an expansion of Iraqi oil sales? Was it their empathy for the starving children of that impoverished nation? Their desire to stop the United States from arrogantly imposing its vision upon the Middle East?
Apr. 26 - Eric Scheie started off wondering why the media is ignoring UNSCAM (read through the whole thing which, like all good questions, answers questions unasked) and he follows a path that came up with a link that answers some questions that have been nagging at me for awhile.
There are a lot of people who wanted the U.N. to take the lead in removing Saddam from Iraq for strictly financial reasons: they believed it better that the U.N. foot the bill instead of the entire burden falling on the American taxpayer. That attitude was understandable, but did it reflect reality?
Read this 1998 article at the Cato Institute: The United Nations Debt: Who Owes Whom?.
Not only does the Cliff Kincaid article indicate some questionable methods of channeling funds to the U.N. by the Clinton administration which bypassed Congress but also some early steps by lawmakers to try to end this circumvention. Some excerpts:
The United States paid more than $11 billion for international peacekeeping efforts between 1992 and 1997.Note that the $11bn figures doesn't include Gulf War I or Kosovo.
[Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.)] ... cites a Congressional Research Service report that found that the United States paid more than $11 billion for international peacekeeping efforts between 1992 and 1997. Although the report didn't specify how much of that money had been counted as U.S. "dues" to the UN, the figure could be as low as $1.8 billion. That leaves about $9 billion worth of what the administration calls "voluntary" international peacekeeping assistance. But the $9 billion only covers assistance provided by the Department of Defense. Other federal agencies have also been ordered by the administration to support the UN, bringing the sum of uncredited payments to perhaps $15 billion.
The $1.8 billion figure counted as U.S. "dues" to the world body derives from a 1996 General Accounting Office report on U.S. costs in support of UN-authorized "peace operations" in places like Haiti, Somalia and Rwanda during the previous three years. The figure represents the State Department's share of the costs of those operations. That is the budget from which the U.S. share of UN peacekeeping operations has traditionally been funded. Overall, the GAO found that the costs reported by U.S. government agencies for support of UN operations in those areas of the world was over $6.6 billion and that the UN had reimbursed the U.S. $79.4 million "for some of these costs." That leaves about $4.8 billion in what the administration calls "voluntary" assistance to the world body.
By refusing to pay the UN "debt," Congress would not only put a stop to the improper if not illegal practice of misappropriating funds to the UN; it would also acquire additional leverage for forcing tough reforms on that body...
We are the forefront of peacemaking efforts on behalf of the U.N., and the American taxpayer involuntarily foots a bill which is not even charged to the U.N.
The taxpayer, under U.N. leadership in Iraq, would still have been footing the bill (as well as the blood) but the US soldier would have been operating under the same kind of feckless U.N. leadership as we saw in Somali, Rwanda and even the UNHQ at the Canal Hotel which was bombed in Baghdad because they failed to take security measures.
Again, note the date of the article and Congressional consideration of finding ways to cut off irregular U.N. funding: 1998.
Enter the oil-for-food project for Iraq, the 2.2% administration fee charged by the U.N. and, lest we forget, the 0.8% fee charged to Iraq for inspections even though they didn't happen afterr 1998 and then this revelation in yesterday's Daily Telegraph (UK) Oil-for-food inquiry says 'key' is $1bn UN paid itself in fees. Excerpts:
More than $1 billion (£560 million) collected by the United Nations as its "commission" on Iraq's oil-for-food programme has become a fresh focus for the inquiry into the biggest scandal ever to engulf the organisation.
At least $1.1 billion was paid directly into UN coffers, supposedly to cover the cost of administering the $67 billion scheme, while Saddam Hussein diverted funds intended for the poor and sick of Iraq to bribe foreign governments and prominent overseas supporters of his regime.
Although the UN Security Council approved the plan to levy a 2.2 per cent commission on each oil-for-food transaction, the huge sums this reaped for the UN have never been fully accounted for.
A senior UN official who is closely involved in uncovering evidence of the scandal admitted: "The UN was not doing this work just for the good of Iraq. Cash from Saddam's government was keeping the UN going for a few years.
"No one knows exactly what sums were involved because an audit has never been done. That is why they are wriggling and squirming now in New York."
[Mr Hankes-Drielsma] said that Iraqi investigators had discovered "memorandums of understanding" suggesting that Saddam could decide which UN officials operated within Iraq. "They were either at his beck and call, or they were sent home," he said. "It seems that we have still only uncovered the tip of the iceberg."
The first alarm bell is the inexplicably sloppy bookkeeping, which we usually take as a sign that there was corruption and the trail was deliberately muddied.
The second alarm bell is that the U.N. bureaucrats controlled $67 billion dollars, never did an audit despite questions raised in the UNSC as early as 1998, and that the organization has no provisions demanding financial accountability.
The third alarm bell is that much of the funding of U.N. missions were provided
a) by the US taxpayer bypassing Congress, and
b) by Saddam himself.
What are the odds that they would voluntarily end a revenue which they didn't even need to account for?
Think it through. In Canada we are being hit with revelation after revelation of financial wrongdoing on the federal, provincial and local levels and the ensuing investigations. Much as the financial irresponsibilities infuriate Canadians, there is a mechanism to make the Members of Parliament (and the parties they represent) accountable: elections.
The U.N. is now under investigation and the international community has no means to demand accountability because there are no elections. Maybe the proponents of the international community would like to explain why any free person would acknowledge the authority of the unelected U.N.
Apr. 25 - An article about Canadian Arthur Millholland of Oilexco Ltd., who was on the list of oil voucher recipients. (Friends of Saddam: Millholland Says UN Knew links to Axis of Logic which links to a piece in Friday's Globe and Mail Executive says oil-for-food program was rife with corruption.)
Millholland asserts his innocence and that he would never be party to bribery or corruption. The article concludes with a lofty assertion of high principles and decency:
Mr. Millholland has travelled to Iraq several times and he has been an outspoken critic of the sanctions and the U.S. occupation. He said he got Oilexco into the oil-for-food program as a way of helping people in the country and he resents any suggestion that he was an apologist for the Saddam regime.Think of the children. How original.
He said he welcomed the UN review of the oil-for-food program. "It wasn't a total failure from a humanitarian perspective," Mr. Millholland said. "But the other side of it was the corruption of it. The questions from the diplomatic side is, did they know about the corruption and overlook it and say that it was something that was inherent in the system and it was a lesser of two evils. In other words, if you have kids that are dying, do you stop the food going in to stop the corruption and cause more kids to die?"
A real reporter would have asked "And when you found no kids had died because of the sanctions but many died due to the expired drugs and substandard hospital equipment, did you feel like a total idiot?"
Or "When you learned that Saddam had a prison just for children, did you feel the slightest twinge of doubt?"
Or even "Can you describe how you felt when the bodies of children clutching their dolls were unearthed in mass graves?"
The reporter, by the way, is Paul Waldie.
Apr. 22 - The Oil for Food program scandal (UNSCAM) has been covered by several articles today in the Daily Telegraph (UK) as well as other media in Britain, Canada, and the U.S.
From the Telegraph, UN officials 'covered up Saddam theft of billions in aid for Iraqis':
Saddam Hussein diverted huge sums from the £60 billion United Nations oil-for-food programme for the poor and sick of pre-war Iraq to foreign governments and vocal supporters of his regime worldwide, the US Congress heard yesterday.The Telegraph also has a scathing leader (editorial) Iraq has enough troubles without adding the U.N. which concludes:
Senior UN, French and Russian officials were alleged to have connived at the scandal, said Claude Hankes-Drielsma, who is leading the Iraqi Governing Council inquiry into the affair.
He said some suppliers, mostly Russian, routinely sent out-of-date or unfit food, or sent fewer goods than were paid for and padded out contracts. In that way they created an excess that could be skimmed off by Iraqi officials.
One of those named in Iraqi files as having received bribes on the sale of oil is Benon Sevan, the UN official in charge of the programme. Mr Sevan, who is on extended leave pending retirement, denied the claims.
Mr Hankes-Drielsma, a former leading executive at the London-based auditors Price Waterhouse, said that Saddam and his henchmen pocketed billions in surcharges and bribes.
The biggest humanitarian scheme in the UN's history had provided the dictator and "his corrupt and evil regime with a convenient vehicle through which he bought support internationally by bribing political parties, companies, journalists and other individuals of influence.
"The very fact that Saddam Hussein, the UN and certain members of the Security Council could conceal such a scam from the world should send shivers down every spine in this room today."
There are enough problems attendant on the birth of democracy in Iraq without burdening the country with an organisation that proved so inadequate in confronting the previous dictatorship, whether over oil for food or defiance of Security Council resolutions. George W Bush and Tony Blair may welcome shedding the odious status of occupiers. But they should be under no illusions that the UN will prove an adequate substitute. Given its record in the Balkans and the Middle East, their continuing faith in that body as providing a unique cloak of legitimacy is astonishing.
Another article, Saddam cronies grew rich on cash meant for the starving, points out the hypocrisy of those on the UNSC opposed to the war:
Yesterday, the United States Congress was told that Iraqi files indicated that some of the most vocal critics of sanctions were on the take from Saddam Hussein, benefiting from monies intended to buy food and medicine.Then, in How the system was abused,
Such friends of Iraq were granted vouchers to buy and trade Iraqi oil, though such vouchers should have been reserved for oil firms with refineries. The vouchers allowed the bearers to make millions in profits.
One of those named in Iraqi files as having profited from the sale of oil is Benon Sevan, the top UN official in charge of the oil-for-food programme. Another is a former French ambassador to the UN, Jean-Bernard Merimee, according to Claude Hankes-Drielsma, who is leading the Iraqi Governing Council's inquiry into the issue.
He told a Congressional sub-committee that Iraq's suppliers routinely sent out of date, or unfit, food to Iraq, or sent fewer goods than were paid for, in order to "pad out" contracts so they could be "skimmed off" by Iraqi officials. Most of those suppliers were Russian companies.
Those involved have reason to fear, Congress was told.
The fall of Saddam uncovered a mountain of meticulous files in several Iraqi ministries, detailing every last aspect of the bribes and commissions extracted by those in Saddam's pay.
UN officials, for their part, have called for evidence of the claims being made, and hinted - off the record - that the investigations were being driven by the political animus of Ahmad Chalabi, a Pentagon favourite who is disliked and distrusted at the UN. But Mr Hankes-Drielsma told Congress that the UN had a clear case to answer, which ran to the very top.
"From the information available to date, it is clear that the UN failed in its responsibility to the Iraqi people in administering the oil-for-food programme during the period 1995 to 2003. It will not come as a surprise if the oil-for-food programme turns out to be one of the world's most disgraceful scams and an example of inadequate control, responsibility and transparency, providing an opportune vehicle for Saddam Hussein to operate under the United Nations aegis to continue his reign of terror and oppression."
He added that it appeared to be no coincidence that the countries most involved in the corruption - Russia, France and Syria, to name just three - were among the fiercest opponents of toppling Saddam as they sat in the UN Security Council.
According to Al Mada, the Iraqi newspaper that listed the names of some of the individuals allegedly involved in the scam, French and Russian middlemen formed the largest group.More, in French and Russian politicians 'bribed to relax UN sanctions':
Russians received more than 2.5 billion barrels of cut-rate crude, some 1.4 billion barrels of which went to the Russian state, according to Iraqi documents leaked to the paper.
French oil traders gained 165 million barrels of cut-rate crude.
The scam worked on two levels. Not only did Iraqi oil purchasers benefit from being able to resell at huge profit but also Saddam distributed "oil vouchers" to corporations, political parties and individuals whom he favoured.
Documents emerging from Baghdad appear to show how Russian and French politicians and businessmen were bribed by Saddam, using money skimmed off the oil-for-food programme. These claims have been denounced by many in France as American propaganda.The Telegraph even links to the U.N. News Centre story of the independent panel that will probe the Oil-For-Food allegations. London NewsNet quotes panel head Paul Volcker on the aims of the panel here, and the London Times has an article (but I'm not a subscriber so I couldn't access it.)
UN officials say their programme was audited more than 100 times, although it has never made public the detailed findings.
What is known is that France and Russia's financial interest in Iraq was heavily influenced by Saddam's failure to pay for billions of pounds of arms sold to him on credit during the late 1980s. Many of the weapons were then used to invade Kuwait.
France joined the Allied liberation of Kuwait at the last minute, but its government was left guaranteeing £3 billion in loans to Saddam which he had no intention of repaying.
France's relationship with Saddam dated back to the mid-1970s when Jacques Chirac, the then prime minister, visited Baghdad. Between 1974 and 1990, more than 20 French ministers from all the main parties travelled to Iraq to expand France's commercial interests, which ranged from construction to armaments and a nuclear reactor that the Israelis promptly bombed.
Iraq became France's second biggest oil supplier and France in turn became Iraq's second largest civil and military supplier.
Even when Iraq began to show signs of financial strain during its war with Iran, France helped out. In 1986, M Chirac promised French arms makers that it would guarantee any credit they extended to Saddam.
Even after Saddam's invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and the US-led war to evict him the following year, the special relationship between France and Iraq continued.
In 1994, Charles Pasqua, the then interior minister, gave a visa to Saddam's right hand man, Tariq Aziz. France's UN ambassador lobbied for the easing of sanctions against Iraq. The fruit of this was Iraq's acceptance of the oil-for-food programme in 1995. A French bank, BNP Paribas, was chosen to do much of the financial administration.
Critics of the programme say it swiftly became a way for Saddam to reward his friends in the West and manipulate the UN.
In Russia, companies supplying goods and services to Iraq under the UN's oil-for-food programme enjoyed years of inflated contracts and preferential treatment with Iraq.
In return, Moscow used its clout as a permanent UN Security Council member to influence the sanctions programme in Iraq's favour.
Sweetheart deals between Moscow and Baghdad for products ranging from rice to refinery equipment continued right up to the moment American and British forces invaded Iraq last year. In 1997 Lukoil, one of Russia's leading oil firms, signed a deal for exploration and extraction in Iraq's western Qorna region, where reserves were estimated at 20 billion barrels.
In the summer of 2001 when London and Washington were pressing the UN to reduce the list of goods and services permitted under the programme, Russia threatened to use its Security Council veto unless the sanctions were left unchanged for a further five months.
Mohammed Salekh, Saddam's trade minister, said that as a reward, Russia received contracts worth £22 billion, almost 10 times more than it had received in the previous five years.
The Toronto Star carries the story, U.N. backs probe of Oil-for-food scandal which makes it look as though Annan always wanted this investigation; the Toronto Sun has UNSC approval of the investigatory panel which has a bit more substance than the Star coverage but not by much.
CTV-Canada has a story about Muslims leaders urging a greater role for the U.N. in Iraq but I saw nothing about the probe.
The CBC - surprise - takes a very sharp tone in UN Security Council approves oil-for-food probe:
Russia and France wanted a discreet internal probe, thinking it was better to keep the corruption charges in-house at the UN rather than have outside investigators poking into the alleged links between Saddam, top UN staffers and Russian and French companies.
Resolution 1538, as it is officially known, may come to be remembered as the official lifting of the lid on a financial scandal that could ultimately dwarf even the worst excesses of Wall Street.
The UN oil-for-food program in Iraq was supposed to be a humanitarian effort. Profits from Iraqi oil sales were to be used exclusively to buy food and medicine for the people of Iraq.
But it seems billions of dollars may have gone missing.
Glenn Reynolds has some links from yesterday as well as today's links to US papers on the scandal, including one that goes into politicians who received money from Samir Vincent and Shakir Alkhalaji who were on the list of those who allegedly received oil vouchers from Saddam.
Austin Bay has an article on The Myth of Oil for Food at Strategy Page.
Something I didn't have a chance to post yesterday is an article by Claudia Rosett in OpinionJournal - The Real World and some ideas how the U.N. could realistically help Iraq.
It seems the U.N. is holding approximately $100 million to cover potential liabilities from the Canal Hotel bombing last August that destroyed the U.N. HQ in Bagdad:
Given that the independent report last October on the U.N.'s security systems in Baghdad found the entire U.N. security apparatus "dysfunctional," and given that the dysfunction was so egregious that the U.N. recently fired the official in charge, it seems strange to reserve that $100 million to help the U.N. potentially cover the cost of its own grievous mistakes. That money was meant to help provide for the betterment of the 26 million citizens of Iraq, not insure the U.N. against its own malfunctions.Pay a visit to the Iraq Memory Foundation and see what you think.
As it happens, Iraq-born architect Kanan Makiya was in New York recently seeking funds for the project of building a memorial and a holocaust museum in Baghdad, the better to help Iraq's people understand and come to grips with the atrocities of Saddam's regime. The project would include the cataloguing and preservation of millions of pages of documentation, and the presentation of evidence about the decades of abuse that took place, from which Iraq must still recover. Mr. Makiya is director of the Iraq Memory Foundation (www.iraqmemory.org), which is trying to assemble this project. His proposal states: "The Iraq Memory Foundation is not a project intended to apportion blame or play politics. First and foremost it is designed to allow future generations of Iraqis to glimpse the inner sanctum of the atrocities that were perpetrated during the period of Ba'athist rule from 1968 until 2003."
For this project, Mr. Makiya is seeking, ultimately, an endowment of some $40 million. That's less than half what is still sitting in the Secretariat's own Oil-for-Food account, and it is hard to imagine a more appropriate use of this money than to help Iraqis document, preserve and confront the full truth of Saddam's abuse. In the interest of fairness, the U.N. might also want to turn over a portion of the remaining $60 million or so for a memorial in northern Iraq, where Saddam used chemical weapons to murder thousands of Kurds, and another portion to southern Iraq, site of so many of Saddam's mass graves. It would be the philosophical beginning of restitution for U.N. collusion with Saddam, and of genuine re-legitimization for the U.N. in Iraq.
Dang. This post is long even for me.
Apr. 21 - I'm relieved to announce that a web site devoted to coverage of UNSCAM, or the U.N. Oil for Food Program/Scandal, is on the internet.
Good title: Friends of Saddam and the emblem at the top says it all.
The archives go back to Oct., 2002. I think I could probably spend a couple of days at this site. Unfortunately, I have to go to work (the one that pays me, that is.)
Apr. 21 - The U.N. Oil for Food Program continues to break into the mainstream media: ABC News has a fairly extensive coverage in U.N. Officials Bribed by Saddam? and it is note worthy that the url contains the phrasing "investigation/oil/for_food_ripoff." Do they think people like me don't read the fine print?
ABC provides the conservative figure of $ 5 billion which is half of that estimated by the General Accounting Office but goes further on the suspects:
At least three senior United Nations officials are suspected of taking multimillion-dollar bribes from the Saddam Hussein regime, U.S. and European intelligence sources tell ABCNEWS. (Emphasis added.)The one that is most clearly implicated in Benon Sevan.
20:26 Roger L. Simon and ABC place a lot more faith than I that the hand-written memo is the smoking gun that finally compromises Benon Sevan, maybe because I live in Canada and recognize how incredibly difficult it is going to be for Canadians to accept that their beloved child, the U.N., is corrupt.
This is the testimony given today before the House Committee on Government Reform's subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Affairs by MEMRI Senior Analyst Dr. Nimrod Raphaeli. I need to read it a few more times, I think, but there are some peculiarities in how the U.N. handled the initial rumours that are disturbing. (End update.)
Claudia Rosett, who has researched the program perhaps more than any other journalist, has a lengthy and detailed account of the program from its inception to the present at Commentary The Oil-for-Food Scam: What Did Kofi Annan Know, and When Did He Know It?. Read the whole thing. More than once.
Apr. 19 - On one hand, there is continuous urging for the UN take take over running Iraq, and on the other there is the KMPG audit of the U.N. Oil for Food Program on behalf of the Iraqi Provisional Council.
It's still not being carried by a lot of the media, but more and more articles are finally popping up. Mortimer B. Zuckerman writes about it for USNews (The U.N. and the Iraq oil-for-food scandal (4/26/04)) and opens with the point that seems to have missed a lot of people:
The prospects of the United Nations taking over the transition in Iraq may now be fatally compromised... At least $10 billion, evidently, went into the pockets of political operators.They don't spare Russia or Kofi Annan's signing off $20 million on Uday's Olympic sports city or the $50 million he signed off for television equipment.
Coincidence. If you wondered why the French were so hostile to America's approach to Iraq and even opposed to ending the sanctions after the 1991 Gulf War, here's one possible explanation: French oil traders got 165 million barrels of Iraqi crude at cut-rate prices. The CEO of one French company, SOCO International, got vouchers for 36 million barrels of Iraqi oil. Was it just a coincidence that the man is a close political and financial supporter of President Jacques Chirac? Or that a former minister of the interior, Charles Pasqua, allegedly received 12 million barrels from Baghdad? Or that a former French ambassador to the U.N., Jean-Bernard Merimee, received an allocation of 11 million barrels? Perhaps it was just happenstance, too, that a French bank with close ties to then French President François Mitterrand and one of the bank's big shareholders who is close to Saddam became the main conduit for the bulk of the $67 billion in proceeds from the oil-for-food program. All told, 42 French companies and individuals got a piece of this lucrative trade. No matter how cynical you may be, it's sometimes just plain hard to keep up with the French.
The article concludes:
All of this would seem to raise a few questions about the intense opposition to the American intervention in Iraq within the U.N. Security Council, and particularly from Paris and Moscow. In one way or another, the U.N. stonewalled, until now, a serious independent investigation of the oil-for-food program. To his credit, Kofi Annan is now supporting such an investigation, but the Security Council has not approved it, and France and Russia--surprise!--are actively blocking it. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker has agreed to head the inquiry, but only if it is blessed by a Security Council vote. Absent such a vote, there is still an awful lot of explaining to be done.
Will the investigation be whitewashed to preserve the U.N.'s reputation so that it can replace the CPA in Iraq, or will the investigation get to the bottom of this ugly mess? Fortunately, Congress is going to conduct its own hearings on the largest public financial scandal in history--and the disgraceful insiders' game played at the U.N.
The NY Times has coverage on the Russian objections to an independent investigation:
United Nations officials said Friday that Mr. Volcker, 76, had been selected for the panel along with Mark Pieth, 50, a Swiss law professor with expertise in investigating money laundering and economic crime, and Richard J. Goldstone, 65, a South African judge who was chief prosecutor for the international criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia.(Via Instapundit.)
But the nominations stalled Friday when Russia said it would not agree to a Security Council resolution that Mr. Volcker said he needed to give him the authority to conduct the wide-ranging inquiry that Mr. Annan was seeking.
"We understand the reputation of the Secretariat is in question, but we do not think it is possible to adopt a resolution on the basis of mass media reports," said Sergei Trepelkov, spokesman for the Russian mission.
Those reports, published first by an Iraqi newspaper in January and in the international press since then, listed companies and individuals as recipients of illegal allocations of oil. Forty-six were Russian, among them Vladimir Titorenko, a former Russian ambassador to Baghdad, and Nikolai Ryzhkov, a member of Parliament. In a statement at the time, the Russian Foreign Ministry denied any wrongdoing by Russians.
There are at least two links documented already. Both involve oil buyers picked by Saddam and approved by the U.N. One was a firm with close ties to a Liechtenstein trust that has since been designated by the U.N. itself as "belonging to or affiliated with Al Qaeda." The other was a Swiss-registered subsidiary of a Saudi oil firm that had close dealings with the Taliban during Osama bin Laden's 1990's heyday in Afghanistan.Of course there are records, right? Yes, but no one seems to know exactly where.
These cases were reported in a carefully researched story published last June by Marc Perelman of the New York-based Forward, relying not only on interviews, but on corporate-registry documents and U.S. and U.N. terror-watch lists. It was an important dispatch but sank quickly from sight.
One link ran from a U.N.-approved buyer of Saddam's oil, Galp International Trading Corp., involved near the very start of the program, to a shell company called ASAT Trust in Liechtenstein, linked to a bank in the Bahamas, Bank Al Taqwa. Both ASAT Trust and Bank Al Taqwa were designated on the U.N.'s own terror-watch list, shortly after 9/11, as entities "belonging to or affiliated with Al Qaeda." This Liechtenstein trust and Bahamian bank were linked to two closely connected terrorist financiers, Youssef Nada and Idris Ahmed Nasreddin — both of whom were described in 2002 by Treasury as "part of an extensive financial network providing support to Al Qaeda and other terrorist related organizations," and both of whom appear on the U.N.'s list of individuals belonging to or affiliated with al Qaeda.
The other tie between Oil-for-Food and al Qaeda, noted by Perelman, ran through another of Saddam's handpicked, Oil-for-Food oil buyers, Swiss-based Delta Services — which bought oil from Saddam in 2000 and 2001, at the height of Saddam's scam for grafting money out of Oil-for-Food by way of under-priced oil contracts. Now shut down, Delta Services was a subsidiary of a Saudi Arabian firm, Delta Oil, which had close ties to the Taliban during Osama bin Laden's heyday in Afghanistan in the late 1990s. In discussions of graft via Oil-for-Food, it has been assumed that the windfall profits were largely kicked back to Saddam, or perhaps used to sway prominent politicians and buy commercial lobbying clout. But that begs further inquiry. There was every opportunity here for Saddam not solely to pocket the plunder, but to send it along to whomever he chose — once he had tapped into the appropriate networks.
Are there other terrorist links? Did Saddam actually send money for terrorist uses through those named by the Forward? Given the more than $100 billion that coursed through Oil-for-Food, it would seem a very good idea to at least try to find out. And while there has been great interest so far in the stunning sums of money involved in this fraud, there has been rather less focus on the potential terrorist connections. While Treasury has been ransacking the planet for Saddam's plunder, there is, as far as I have been able to discover, no investigation so far in motion, or even in the making, focused specifically on terrorist ties in those U.N. lists of Saddam's favored partners.
22:34: Russia has dropped objections to a UNSC motion endorsing the independent investigation. Paul Volcker will head the team
The two other panel members selected by Annan are former Yugoslav war crimes prosecutor Richard Goldstone of South Africa and Swiss criminal law professor Mark Pieth, who is an expert in money laundering for the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Apr. 15 - Insight Magazine on the U.N. Oil for Food Program investigations
Apr. 14 - More information on the use of oil vouchers to circumvent the U.N. Oil for Food scandal, this time from Ireland.
Look at this post, which says that a man who was active to end UN sanctions against Iraq, Denis Halliday, went on to become chairman of Bula Resources, an Irish oil exploration team. [Correction: Denis Halliday was a member of a PR firm who was retained for the anti-sanctions campaign; former Irish Prime Minister Albert Reynolds became chairman of Bula Resources. The link to the original post is here.]
The former special adviser to former UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson introduces the Iraqi chairman of a pressure group dedicated to the lifting of UN sanctions to the head of a reputable Irish PR firm. The Iraqi anti-sanctions campaigner hires the PR firm to seek to influence several high-profile Irish politicians to support the campaign to lift sanctions for an estimated €80,000.The link to the MEMRI inquiry on the oil vouchers is here and when we look under Ireland, there are two names:
The Iraqi anti-sanctions campaigner's website features quotes from former UN Assistant Secretary General in charge of the Oil for Food program Denis Halliday., After quitting his job in 1998, this proud Irishman has been able to travel the world to campaign against sanctions and the US military use of Shannon airport.
As part of the anti-sanctions PR campaign, several Irish politicians, including former Irish Prime Minister Albert Reynolds, visited Iraq in 1998.
After Mr Reynolds' visit, he made pleas for ending sanctions. Then he became chairman of Bula Resources, an Irish oil exploration firm.
The PR firm's fees for the anti-sanctions campaign were paid by Bula Resources.
The Iraqi anti-sanctions campaigner was listed by the Iraqi newspaper Al-Mada as receiving 11,000,000 barrels in oil "allocations" (worth up to $3,300,000 according to the Financial Times estimates).
The Iraqi anti-sanctions campaigner "insisted that the Irish exploration company Bula Resources and its former chairman Albert Reynolds were always aware that he was selling oil on behalf of Saddam Hussein's government."
1. Riyadh Al-Taher - 11 million
2. Afro-Eastern - 2 million
"His account conflicts with the version of events offered by the former taoiseach, who said he was never aware that el Taher was working on behalf of the former Iraqi dictator's government."It gets better. Read the whole thing.
Bula Resources is now in liquidation by the High Court and its 43,000 shareholders are most worried about recouping a €1.5 million deposit paid by the company as part of a deal involving an entity in Bahrain.
The company is also being investigated by officials from the [Irish] Office of the Director of Company Enforcement (ODCE).
Meanwhile, the second "Irish" company on the al-Mada list is "Afro-Eastern", a defunct company located in the village that was the headquarters of another company involved in a long running scandal about the Irish-Iraqi beef trade. Afro-Eastern was once headed by a Coptic couple who seem to have disappeared.
Apr. 14 - More Oil for Food Program questions, these involving the money given to Scott Ritter for his movie Shifting Sands.
According to the Financial Times, the money for the movie came from Shakir Khafaji who admits the money came from oil vouchers from Saddam:
A Detroit-based businessman of Iraqi origin who financed a film by Scott Ritter, the former chief United Nations weapons inspector, has admitted for the first time being awarded oil allocations during the UN oil-for-food programme.It's good to see that people are still pursuing the truth about the oil voucher program and, by extension, the U.N. Oil for Food Program scandal.
Shakir Khafaji, who had close contacts with Saddam Hussein's regime, made $400,000 available for Mr Ritter to make In Shifting Sands, a film in which the ex-inspector claimed Iraq had been "defanged" after a decade of UN weapons inspections.
Mr Khafaji says there was no connection between the oil allocations, which he says he sold on behalf of his "family", and his relationship with Mr Ritter, an ex-Marine who shifted from being one Saddam Hussein's toughest critics on weapons of mass destruction to being an opponent of the US-led invasion of Iraq.
In an interview with the Financial Times and Il Sole 24 Ore, the Italian business daily, Mr Khafaji admitted that he sold allocations to Italtech, a Tuscany-based company, which resold the oil to a Houston-based oil trading company called Bayoil, or its subsidiaries. But he says he never told Mr Ritter about his receipt of the oil allocations.
14:39: It's a coincidence that Roger L. Simon uses the same wording. Obviously he and I are on the same mailing lists.
Mar. 29 - More publications are taking a closer look at the corruption in the UN Oil for Food program (except the Canadian media. Right. Or maybe that should be Left.)
William Safire has another op-ed today on the UN Oil for Food Program and has maybe given the scandal a name: Follow-Up to Kofigate. I'm going to do something wrong and quote the entire column (curse you NYT and your 2-week link life):
Never has there been a financial rip-off of the magnitude of the U.N. oil-for-food scandal.
At least $5 billion in kickbacks went from corrupt contractors — mainly French and Russian — into the pockets of Saddam and his thugs. Some went to pay off his protectors in foreign governments and media, and we may soon see how much stuck to the fingers of U.N. bureaucrats as well.Safire is overlooking an important point here: the call for a full inquiry is better coming from Iraq, which suffered because of it, than the US, which may have lost prestige and remains accused of continuing sanctions which harmed the people of Iraq but is still not the primary victim.
Responding to a harangue in this space on March 17, the spokesman for Kofi Annan confirmed that the secretary general's soft-spoken son, Kojo, was on the payroll of Cotecna Inspections of Switzerland until December 1998. In that very month, the U.N. awarded Cotecna the contract to monitor and authenticate the goods shipped to Iraq.
Prices were inflated to allow for 10 percent kickbacks, and the goods were often shoddy and unusable. As the lax Cotecna made a lot of corporate friends, Iraqi children suffered from rotted food and diluted medicines.
The U.N. press agent also revealed that Benon Sevan, Annan's longtime right-hand man in charge of the flow of billions, was advised by U.N. lawyers that the names of companies receiving the contracts were "privileged commercial information, which could not be made public." Mr. Sevan had stonewalling help.
To shift responsibility for the see-no-evil oversight, the U.N. spokesman noted that "details of all contracts were made available to the governments of all 15 Security Council members." All the details, including the regular 10 percent kickback to the tune of $5 billion in illegal surcharges? We'll see.
To calm the belated uproar, Annan felt compelled to seek an "independent high-level inquiry," empowered by a Security Council resolution, as some of us called for.
Nothing doing, said France's U.N. ambassador, Jean-Marc de la Sablière. The money for the huge heist known as the Iraq-U.N. account passed exclusively through BNP Paribas. French companies led all the rest (what's French for "kickback"?), though Vladimir Putin's favorite Russian oligarchs insisted on sharing the wealth. That explains why Paris and Moscow were Saddam's main prewar defenders, and why their politicians and executives now want no inquiry they cannot control.
Nor are the White House and State Department so eager for a real investigation, because as the truth emerges, the U.N. may use the furor as cover for refusal to confer its blessing on the new Iraq. Our present and former U.S. ambassadors to the U.N. would have to take issue with Annan if he tried to hide under their wing. Peter Burleigh and Andrew Hillman, our frequent representatives on the "661 committee" — so named for a sanctions resolution — are not about to be the U.N.'s scapegoats.
If the secretary general appoints a Franco-Russian Whitewash Team, to whom can the world turn?
1. The Iraqi government-in-formation. Spurred by Kurds who have been blowing the whistle on this superscam for five years, free Iraq has hired accountants and lawyers to sift through captured bills and contracts in Baghdad. Former spooks are freelancing usefully. Paul Bremer, our man in Baghdad, has placed a trove of additional half-corrupted tapes and damaged and damaging documents under seal to be turned over after June 30, Sovereignty Day.
2. The House International Relations Committee's chairman, Henry Hyde, whose interviewers are in New York today, will hold initial hearings on April 21. Congress's investigative arm, the General Accounting Office, will testify about the scope of the chicanery that it estimates at $10 billion (including Saddam's clandestine oil smuggling to Syria and Jordan). It's a start that should awaken Senate Foreign Relations as well as Justice.
3. The press, stimulated by U.N. stonewalling, is on the trail.
Al Mada led the way. Already denying the feisty Iraq newspaper's findings are a former French interior minister, a pro-Saddam member of Britain's Parliament, Arab writers and a financier reportedly behind a Scott Ritter film. The Times, Wall Street Journal and Sunday Telegraph have been exposing the outline of what Newsday admits is "the most underreported story of the year." Among magazines, National Review is out front with no interest shown by The New Yorker and Newsweek.
All of us need an embittered whistleblower. If an ex-U.N. type named Shaukat Fareed reads this — call me.
From Roger L. Simon is a link to an article in an Australian paper, The Age, Scandal bubbles to surface. The author, Roger Franklin, takes a deeper look at the Oil for Food program and emphasizes this point:
Again, the UN's stonewalling makes it hard to determine exactly how much was fleeced, but there are some tantalising hints. Before Oil for Food was handed over to Iraq, the UN conducted an urgent, last-minute review of thousands of contracts.This article also appears in New Zealand News (link via Jack's Newswatch.)
Rosett calls it a "house cleaning", but whatever description is used, some 1500 supplier contracts - one in four - were immediately suspended or banned outright from further participation.
So where did the money go? Into Saddam's pocket is a good guess, with lesser amounts creamed off by the operators of front companies, smugglers and, perhaps, even UN officials.
According to the best estimate of the non-partisan US Government Accounting Office, Oil for Food generated at least $10 billion for Saddam's family, and a further $1 billion to pay the 1000-plus UN bureaucrats who were supposed to be keeping it honest.
Again, the focus is on Kofi Annan, who helped set up Oil for Food in 1997 and installed his close friend and fellow diplomat Benon Sevan as its director. Last week, with Rosett's series igniting a firestorm over the UN, Mr Sevan was not answering his phone. According to a UN spokesman, he is using up accumulated leave before retiring.
For his part, a po-faced Mr Annan now concedes "it is highly possible there has been quite a lot of wrongdoing", and has authorised an internal investigation.
Neither Rosett nor congressional investigators hold much hope it will be more than a whitewash. The UN has other matters it would much prefer to talk about, like a $1.2 billion interest-free loan from Washington to renovate its decaying New York HQ. George Bush has rejected the request, saying the UN could have the money at the standard interest rate charged to American home buyers. (My emphasis)
Niles Lathem in today's NY Post doesn't waste time with nuance in 3,000 U.N. Staffers Probed (no, not that kind of probe! Sheesh.):
Investigators probing the United Nations' Iraq oil-for-food program are taking a close look at allegations the scandal-plagued initiative was filled with spies, terrorists and do-nothing bureaucrats earning exorbitant salaries.Now the near-automatic oh come on, this is a silly accusation reflex meets a caution: The Kurds have been in the forefront of exposing this program since 1998. Do those who have discounted their claims for the last 5 years have the moral stomach to scoff at them again?
But new questions have surfaced about the presence on the oil-for-food program's administrative staff of a bureaucrat who was widely known to be an undercover agent for the intelligence service of France, a country that had huge financial interests in the program.
Kurdish officials in northern Iraq also made repeated complaints about the fact that Iraq, with U.N. approval, kept Americans, Britons and Scandinavians off the staff that administered the 13 percent of the oil-for-food proceeds earmarked for Kurdish provinces. Only workers from countries perceived to be friendly to Iraq were approved. Howard Ziad, the Kurdish representative to the United Nations, told The Post that Kurdish authorities made repeated complaints to U.N. higher-ups that the staff assigned to his region was riddled with spies working for Iraqi intelligence.
In July 2001, Kurdish security forces arrested a Tunisian U.N. employee with a car full of explosives meant for a terror bombing in Erbil. He was held for four months until the United Nations quietly negotiated his release, Ziad said.
There are many who will point out that the United Nations is still the best vehicle for international cooperation and peace mechanism we have at present and must be maintained at any cost.
But as a wise (albeit fictional) being once said, some things can come at too high a price, and in this instance, a very high price is being paid to sustain a mere illusion, and I'm not simply referring to monetary expenditures but to the ignored hopes and aspirations of the world's oppressed and destitute. I have my doubts that the UN can be fixed, but according to the article Voting Bloc from Reason Online, there is a bi-partisan effort to form a caucus of democracies at the UN which could either force reform or even supersede the UN.
The interesting part is that this is actually getting approval from both branches of government which shape foreign policy: the executive and legislative:
Since 1996, a handful of foreign-policy wonks have been kicking around the idea of a "democracy caucus" at the U.N. Two administrations, first Bill Clinton's and then George W. Bush's, took quiet but significant steps in that direction. Now, according to Bush administration officials, the concept will be test-flown at the six-week meeting of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights that began on Monday in Geneva.RTWT.
On Capitol Hill, support is strong in both parties. In 2003 the House overwhelmingly passed a bill, still awaiting Senate action, requiring (among other things) that the U.S. seek a democracy caucus. "It's a very high priority for a number of us who want to push it through," said Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., who is the ranking Democrat on the House International Relations Committee, and whose co-sponsor is House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier, R-Calif. In the Senate, Joseph Biden of Delaware, the ranking Democrat on Foreign Relations, is sponsoring a similar resolution.
Two things strike me: it would be refreshing to have an international organization in which France, Russis and China didn't have veto power, and so far as I can determine, only two or possible three Mid-East countries would even qualify to join, those being Iraq and Israel and perhaps Turkey, although admission to the EU somewhat emphasizes the part of Turkey that is in Europe. Many African nations would have to stop pretending that they are the moral equality of functioning democracies.
And Canada - what indeed of Canada?
PM Paul Martin said at a recent Geneva conference that the The future of the U.N. lies with Canada, and the future of Canada lies with the U.N.. Kofi Annan was lauded by the same Liberal Party government which is now vainly trying to claim ignorance of the misdeeds we call Adscam.
Do Canadians who rely exclusively on Canadian media have any notion that the UN is at the center of a scandal of this magnitude? They are certainly aware that, ten years after the fact, the UN has finally figured out that they failed in Rwanda, but have Canadian sensibilities reached 2004? As a taxpayer in Canada I am furious that my tax dollars have been stolen, but the $100 million misdirected through Adscam is mere chicken feed compared to $11 billion unaccounted for by the UN and that scandal truly resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives.
The U.N. bureaucracy is just as culpable for what happened in Iraq as for what happened in Rwanda and for is happening in the Sudan. Will they require another ten years to work those out? Can the Sudanese afford to wait?
I want to know if PM Martin actually recognized exactly what he was saying when he proclaimed that Canada's future lay in the U.N.
But I'm still nastier: Anyone else wondering if Kofi Annan is one of the international leaders who has confided his hope that John Freakin' Kerry wins the presidency?
[N. B.: I'm aware of Reason Online's bias, but then I still read the NY Times and Washington Post too.]
20:59: WaPo link to their mild Oil for Food Program article fixed.
Mar. 25 - Two articles by Niles Lathem in the New York Post. From yesterday, U.N. Stalling Iraq Gov't Probe of $ecret Oil Acct.:
March 24, 2004 -- WASHINGTON - U.N. bureaucrats are stonewalling requests from Iraq's new government for records from the scandal-plagued oil-for-food account set up in Saddam Hussein's handpicked French bank, officials said yesterday.
The mysterious activities over the handling of the U.N. account at the French banking giant BNP Paribas, where $100 billion worth of oil-for-food transactions flowed until the war, has emerged as a central focus of several investigations in the wake of the massive bribery-kickback scandal that has rocked the world body at its highest levels.Link via Jack's Newswatch
United Nations custody of the account was so secretive and unusual that even Saddam, who stole $10.1 billion from the program and bribed sympathetic pols with some of the proceeds, pressed unsuccessfully to have the account transferred out of the bank he originally insisted handle the program, said Claude Hankes-Drielsma, the British businessman advising Iraq's Governing Council on the issue.
"The key question in this investigation is, what was the relationship between the U.N. and this French bank?" Hankes-Drielsma added.
And from today, U.N. Let Saddam Rob Us Blind: Kurds:
March 25, 2004 -- WASHINGTON - The United Nations allowed Saddam Hussein to shortchange Iraqi Kurds out of billions of dollars from the scandal-plagued oil-for-food program, and funds for the oppressed population mysteriously vanished after the war, The Post has learned.(Link via Roger Simon.)
Howar Ziad, the Kurdish liaison to the United Nations, revealed in an interview new details about the extent of mismanagement and corruption within the $100 billion U.N. humanitarian program - portions of which were mandated to be spent in the semiautonomous Kurdish provinces of northern Iraq.
"We don't know what happened to the money," Ziad said. "We have been requesting for months a straightforward accounting of how the accounts operated and how they were managed. But we have not received a reply from the U.N."
Ziad accused U.N. bureaucrats of "political appeasement" of Saddam's greedy regime, and said they ignored longstanding complaints by the Kurds about corruption within the program that resulted in vital aid not reaching the people most in need.
Bit by bit, it will come out.
Mar. 19 - William Safire in his NY Times column Scandal at the U.N. credits the Claudia Rosett article in the Times last year with alerting him to the scandal and began his own investigtion.
Safire quickly outlines the hidden kickbacks, the secrecy and the corruption and concludes:
Under mounting pressure, this week the U.N. let it be known that its laughably titled Office of Internal Oversight Services would look into the matter. An internal whitewash? Not nearly good enough.See here for a link to the NY Times Rosett column as well as other pieces on the UN Oil for Food program.
Will the Security Council appoint an independent counsel to clean house in an inept or corrupt Secretariat? No, because France and Russia had their hands in the kickback till.
But free Iraq, backed up by the U.S., is not helpless. Our Congress supplies 22 percent of the U.N. budget, and we have a right to an accounting. Chairman Henry Hyde, of House International Relations, calls this "an outrage" and will arrange for a G.A.O. briefing this week, to be followed by open hearings in April.
The NY Post also ran a column on the scandal with a report from the GAO that
Saddam Hussein stole a staggering $10.1 billion from the humanitarian U.N.-run oil-for-food program - billions more in thievery than earlier estimates, a congressional investigation revealed yesterday.Read the whole thing.
UPDATE: Mar. 20 09:02: CNN reports that Annan is calling for an independent inquiry into the UN Oil for Food program. In writing!
Feb. 28 - Damien Penny says it all in this post about a NY Times article by Susan Sachs (which will appear in tomorrow's edition) about the UN sponsored Oil for Food Program ponderously but accurately titled Hussein's Regime Skimmed Billions From Aid.
In the high-flying days after Iraq was allowed to sell its oil after 10 years of United Nations sanctions, the lobby of the Rashid Hotel in Baghdad was the place to be to get a piece of the action.Okay, that's more than I intended.
That was where the oil traders would gather whenever a journalist, actor or political figure would arrive in Iraq and openly praise Mr. Hussein. Experience taught them that the visitor usually returned to the hotel with a gift voucher, courtesy of the Iraqi president or one of his aides, representing the right to buy one million barrels or more of Iraqi crude.
"We used to joke that if you get one million barrels, you could make $200,000," Mr. Faraj, of SOMO, added, referring to a period when the vouchers sold for about 20 cents per barrel. "And yet the ones who got it were those people who used to come here and praise Saddam for his stand against imperialism."
When Dr. Khidr Abbas became Iraq's interim minister of health six months ago, he discovered some of the effects of Mr. Hussein's political manipulation of the oil-for-food program.
After a review of the ministry's spending, he said, he canceled $250 million worth of contracts with companies he believes were fronts for the former government or got contracts only because they were from countries friendly to Mr. Hussein.
They were paid millions of dollars, said Dr. Abbas, for drugs they did not deliver, medical equipment that did not work and maintenance agreements that were never honored. Iraq, he added, was left with defective ultrasound machines from Algeria, overpriced dental chairs from China and a warehouse filled with hundreds of wheelchairs that the old government did not bother to distribute.
Yasmine Gailani, a medical technician who worked at a lab specializing in blood disorders, said the political manipulation resulted in deliveries of drugs that varied in quality and dosage every six months.
At one point, she said, the lab was instructed to only buy its equipment from Russian companies, adding, "So we would have to find what we called a Russian `cover' in order to buy from the manufacturer we wanted."
Her husband, Kemal Gailani, is minister of finance in the interim Iraqi government. Last fall, he said, he confronted a United Nations official over the quality of goods that Iraqis received in their monthly rations during the sanctions.
"We were looking at the contracts already approved and the U.N. lady said, `Do you mind if we continue with these?' " he recalled. "She was talking as if it was a gift or a favor, with our money of course. I said, `Is it the same contracts to Egypt and China? Is it the same cooking oil we used to use in our drive shafts, the same matches that burned our houses down, the same soap that didn't clean?' She was shocked."
Dr. Abbas, a surgeon who left his practice in London to return home to Iraq, said he was preparing lawsuits against some of the drug and medical supply companies he said were allowed to cheat Iraqis. He would also like to stop dealing with any company that paid kickbacks, but he said he realized that might not be practical.
But he would like to give them a message.
"I would say to them, it was very cruel to aid a dictator and his regime when all of you knew what the money was and where it was going," he said. "Instead of letting his resources dry up, you let the dictatorship last longer."
UPDATE: If you haven't done so yet, read Claudia Rosett's article in the Opinion Journal A New Job for Kay.
UPDATE: West Coaster Roger Simon is all over The Big Heist and again urging that the UN opens the books.
Feb. 27 - This controversy isn't going away; Claudia Rossett works some numbers and find that those for the Oil for Food program don't add up (with many thanks to reader Sammie for the link.)
Open the books! What is so hard to understand?
Maybe those who talk about the international community and international law should consider how dangerous that is when the UN, which purports to represent that internationalization, refuses to be accountable for the money that goes through its books.
No self-respecting country or people would tolerate such arrogance from its own government.
UPDATE: No surprise that Roger L. Simon is on the case.
Jan. 23 - Elizabeth Nickson
What if we had a real press? One that was actually competitive, and free-thinking, not skewed by the need to suck up to bureaucrats and MPs? And be honest now, hundreds of millions of dollars can trigger extreme amounts of sucking up. If the press were free here, it would mean actual stories would be told, that you wouldn't have to force yourself to buy a Canadian magazine out of patriotism, you'd actually want to because, strange new concept, it was interesting.(Link via Relapsed Catholic.)
It was a great shame for journalists all across the country, for instance, that the Bloc Quebecois, not our so-called media, had to break the story about the revolting 40% increase in federal government spending over the past five years. There was a 90% increase in the Justice Department budget, 129% in legal services alone. What on God's green earth would they be doing with that money?
Why don't we know more about the connection between the Desmarais family, TotalFinaElf, the Bank Paribas, Jacques Chirac, and the UN's Oil for Food program? Given the relationship between the Desmarais family and Chretien, did that have anything to do with our refusal to join the war in Iraq? If this were the States, that story would be front and centre for months. Why do we not know more about the $250,000 the Canadian government gave to Human Concern International, an Ottawa-based organization headed by Ahmed Khadr who is reputed to have links with Osama bin Laden. Khadr used the money to open refugee camps in Pakistan that CSIS now says were used to aid Islamic fighters waging holy war in Afghanistan.
Let me tell you why we don't have a free press. If we did, things would change for our plushy elites pretty fast. As economist Roger Cass observed in his December newsletter, the C-Wave, the free and vibrant discussion of ideas in the States has meant that the Democratic party is shrinking. From over 50% of registered voters identifying as Democrats in the late 70s, they now stand at 34%. Conversely, the number of registered Republicans has risen, from 20% in the late '70s to 33% today. Even-steven. A free and vital exchange of ideas. A close observation of government operations, actual reporting on what works and what doesn't.
Jan 1 - A Dec. 30 article in the LA Times on how Banned Arms Flowed Into Iraq Through Syrian Firm is full of surprises, and most gratifyingly, specifics.
These are representative of how adept the Saddam regime was at circumventing UN sanctions:
- Russia's Millenium Company Ltd. signed an $8.8-million contract in September 2002 to supply mostly American-made communications and surveillance gear to Iraq's intelligence service. The company's general manager in Moscow later wrote to suggest "the preparation of a sham contract" to deceive U.N. weapons inspectors, documents show.Naturally, I headed straight to see what Roger L. Simon would have to say about this latest evidence of corruption in the Oil-for-Food program.
- Slovenia's STO Ravne company, then a state-owned entity, shipped 20 large battle tank barrels identified as "steel tubes" to SES in February 2002. The next month, Slovenia's Defense Ministry blocked the company from exporting 50 more tank barrels to Syria. Overall, STO Ravne's secret contract called for delivering 175 tank barrels to Iraq.
I don't mean offense when I say that Simon's response was predictable (he's been a steady champion of the need to investigate that program) but the source of the story is interesting:
One of my favorite new website/blogs THE AMERICAN THINKER has an interesting article on the LA Times scoop regarding Syria's funneling arms to Saddam.Evidently this expose originated with a reporter for the German news magazine Stern. The reporter, for reasons we can only guess at, turned his information over to the LAT who then spent three months corroborating it.Intriguing much? The American Thinker clears up some how this investigative report came to be placed in the hands of the LA Times.
Further surprises are in the comments, and the (unfortunately unverifiable) reports from people who have experience working with the UN.
One of the commenters supplied a link to an Opinion Journal Sept. 2002 piece about the program by Claudia Rosett. She puts things into perspective with her first sentence:
Who is Saddam Hussein's biggest business partner?(LA Times link via Instapundit, American Thinker link via Roger L. Simon.)
The United Nations. The same U.N. whose secretary-general, Kofi Annan, stands as one of the chief ditherers over removing Saddam. Here are the ingredients of a conflict of interest.
UPDATE: The Globe and Mail here reports on the Canadian connection.
Dec. 27 - This should provide plenty of ammunition for those who already think Canada is an amoral nation of free-loaders: U.S. policy on Iraq reconstruction bids is not justified, Canadians say.
A strong majority of Canadians feel the United States is not justified in refusing Iraq reconstruction contracts to companies from Canada and the other countries that did not support its war effort there, a new poll suggests.Obviously, I don't know how truly accurate this poll is, nor how maniupulative the questions. But we have the interpretation of the poll from the good old Globe and Mail, ever the revisionists:
Seven in 10 Canadians - 71 per cent - believe that Canada should not be excluded from bidding on projects to rebuild the Middle Eastern country, according to a survey conducted by Ipsos-Reid for The Globe and Mail and CTV.
Residents of Quebec are the most adamant, with four out of five of those polled agreeing that the United States was not justified in making this decision.
Almost as many British Columbians - 77 per cent - offered the same opinion, as did 69 per cent of Atlantic Canadians.
Companies from countries including Canada, Germany and France - critics of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq - were told that they need not apply for any of the $18.6-billion (U.S.) worth of new contracts being awarded to rebuild the country.Critics? More like obstructionists. More like used a corrupted oil-for-food program to help Saddam and his bloody regime get around UN sanctions in exchange for lucrative oil contracts despite the costs to the Iraqi people the program was supposed to protect.
More like Oil. For. Palaces. Tatoo that and wear it with all the shame it deserves.
More like acted as a go-between for Saddam and North Korea for the illegal purchase of missiles. (Hey there UNSC member Syria, how much is oil costing you now that the illegal pipeline is turned off?)
More like sold Saddam weapons and plastic shredders to use against Iraqis and keep him in power.
More like supplied Saddam with enough money to keep his torturers and police state apparati in clover.
More like sent military experts to advise Saddam on his military planning.
Tell me: as Canada did not support the Iraq War, just what justifies Canadian bids on those contracts?
Canada's PM Chretien travelled to UNSC member Mexico to enlist their support against regime change in Iraq. (Read the article, it may stimulate a few memory cells.)
Chretien (who is also connected by marriage to a family that controls majority interest in France's TotalFinaElf) collaborated with the countries of the Axis of Weasels, Syria and Saddam Hussein to maintain the pretenses of the oil for food program all the while circumventing the stipulation that the proceeds be used to purchase food, medical supplies, and those things needed to keep the electrical and water supplies functional.
The UN took a 2.2% cut to help foster the illusion. Kofi Annan personally signed off on all expenditures under that program, yet the proponents, including PM Martin, of the "international community" have the balls to proclaim themselves best suited to conduct a trial of Saddam in the international court dominated by frigging Belgium?
A change in faces in the Cabinet does not reflect a change in policy, PM Martin, except to the deliberately delusional. It's still the same Canadian Parliment, a majority of which voted not to support the US and only reluctantly, and with much prodding from the Canadian Alliance, voiced lukewarm support that Saddam had been removed as more mass graves were uncovered.
PM Martin, in the name of Canada, is whining that Canadians want a) US tax dollars and b) to turn Saddam, the man Chretien and Parliament tried desparately to keep in power, over to an international court run by the very people who collaborated with Canada's former PM Chretien to keep Saddam in power with the approval of the Canadian Parliament.
Weasels they were, and weasels they remain.
Yet Chretien, in the name of Canada, had ordered Canadian ships in the Persian Gulf not to detain Saddam or any members of his family if they were caught fleeing Iraq despite a truckload of reports from international human rights organizations that accused them of torture and murder.
That is all way, way beyond "criticism."
Canada wants better relations with the US? On the surface, the Martin government will get it. But if Canadians want better relationships with Americans, which would mean restoring trust, it keeps getting more elusive. The US electoral system and our separation of powers guarantees that the will of the American people will be heard in Washington DC, and no elected official forgets that.
Like it or not, this poll is guaranteed to earn contempt from Americans, because the perception will be that when it comes to lucrative contracts paid for by US taxpayers, 71% of the "morally superior" Canadians are eager to hop aboard the gravy train.
Furthermore, too many Americans know that when it comes to self-defense, Canada is too freaking cheap to spend money on her own defense capabilities so US forces will have to
babysit provide security for any Canadian contractors in Iraq.
How can Canadians convince Americans that they are worth it? I live here, and even I can't be persuaded that US soldiers should risk their lives to defend greedy Canadian contractors.
Damned right I want that money to go to countries like Bulgaria and Thailand. Bulgarian and Thai soldiers were killed today, and I am grateful for their sacrifices and to their people. We share something with them we don't share with Canada: the willingness to bear the heavy burdens.
We know who are friends are, who we can count on, and who stands tall in this world. I am overjoyed that we are building stronger and closer relations with them as well as with the British, Australians, Italians, Danish, Poles and Spanish, and if I regret that Canada is not numbered among them, it doesn't mean I'll overlook Canada's lack of moral imagination and give her a pass.
One last time: the US is not the one on trial. The rest of the world is.
Nothing can long withstand those who passionately love freedom. If the day comes when we do fall, we'll go down fighting and give future generations such examples of courage and determination as to light their souls with our passion.
UPDATE: I usually enjoy Ralph Peters' columns, but this one has me fuming because it appears the US is again stiffing the Poles. I have an idea: let's not do that. We're still trying to shake off the stench of Yalta. (It is an excellent column, by the way. I just hate the message.)