June 23, 2006

Terror Watch

June 23 - CTV reports that Saudi Arabia shootout kills 6 'militants' (another was arrested) after security forces "stormed a suspected al Qaeda hide-out":

One policeman was also killed in the clashes, it said.

The statement, carried by the official Saudi news agency, said security forces chased seven members with "deviant thoughts" who "belong to the astray bunch" to a house in Riyadh's al-Nakheel district. The Saudi government often refers to al Qaeda members as individuals with "deviant thoughts."

The house was "a hideout for crime, corruption, and a base for the plots of aggression and outrage," the statement said.

Why do the pronouncements from these guys always make me groan as much as did those incessant quotes from Chairman Mao's Red Book back in the day?

June 24 - 19:01 CTV reports that 17 were wounded in the attack and over 40 suspects have been arrested in sweeps after the raid.

Maybe the Saudis were feeling a bit left out what with all the arrests in Toronto, Britain, heavy action in Afghanistan and the recent U.S. arrests of 7 plotters:

Five of the suspects were arrested Thursday in Miami, after authorities swarmed a warehouse in Miami's poor Liberty City area, a federal law enforcement official said.

One person was arrested in Atlanta on Thursday, and another person was arrested before yesterday, according to CNN. (Bolding added)

(That last sentence made me giggle because I was expected a place, not a date, but it can't be that funny if I have to explain it.)

Most of the chatter on Fox is actually worth listening to because they are doing a great job of speculating about things that can only make wanna-be terrorists nervous -- like the rumour that the head of the terror cell was an FBI agent.

Our guys in Iraq continue to rack 'em up: on Monday a senior Al Qaeda operative and 3 others were detained (no names released.)

Sorry, I shouldn't be happy. I should be sombre, and Weighted With The Enormity Of It All, but I'm not. Maybe it's because it's Friday, maybe it's because we ducked another bullet, but more likely it's because Ace is hot on the story:

You will not be surprised that the "timing" of these "arrests" of "terrorists" is being "questioned."
His link to Allah is, as always, beyond funny.

Here's your CanCon and a return to seriousness: when I read the CNN headline (on the World page) "Rights boss: Stop terror abuse" I actually thought ... but no, alas, it was just

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, taking aim at the war on terrorism, reminded all states on Friday of their duty to ban torture and give all security detainees a fair trial.

In a speech to the United Nations Human Rights Council, Arbour also voiced concern at the alleged existence of secret detention centres, saying they facilitate abusive treatment.

Although she mentioned no names, her remarks were clearly aimed at the United States and its allies in their "war on terror" launched after the September 11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people in 2001.

"It is vital that at all times governments anchor in law their response to terrorism," Arbour told the 47-member state body ahead of the U.N.'s International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, being observed next Monday. (bolding added)

Your timing sucks, bitch. Consider

The torture and murders of two soldiers who, by all legal definitions, qualified for protection under the Geneva Convention: Private Thomas Tucker and Private Kristian Menchaca.

A government worthy of condemnation: Sudanese militias kill hundreds in Chad
Car bomb in Philippine market place kill 5, wounds 10 in a probable attempt to kill the governor of the southern province;
Tamil Tigers Caught Laying Sea Mines:

A POWERFUL explosion occurred off the coast north of the Sri Lankan capital Colombo today, with police saying it was probably a sea mine planted last week by Tamil Tiger rebels.

The explosion was heard about 15km from Colombo, near the site where police on Saturday arrested five Tigers in diving gear who were laying sea mines, Sri Lanka's police chief Chandra Fernando said.

"There are no reports of casualties. We are investigating," Fernando said.

"Last week we had information that there were eight sea mines. Seven were accounted for but we had not found one. The blast today is probably that mine."

Officials said sea mines were similar to limpet mines but magnetically attached to a ship's hull and could be triggered to explode by a time-delay fuse or by remote control.

One of the five arrested divers had swallowed cyanide and committed suicide to prevent being questioned, and another two who took cyanide were taken to hospital.

The terror attack links are in fact relevant to Arbour's admonition to "governments" as these terror attacks were undertaken by groups that intend to take state power. This one, howerver isn't because it relates to a man who, pre-Spider Hole, actually held state power and lied to the U.N.: Hundreds of WMDs found in Iraq.

And the NY Times continues their normal job of assisting the terrorists by revealing a clandestine program intended to follow the money:

WASHINGTON, June 22 — Under a secret Bush administration program initiated weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, counterterrorism officials have gained access to financial records from a vast international database and examined banking transactions involving thousands of Americans and others in the United States, according to government and industry officials.

Data provided by the program helped identify Uzair Paracha, a Brooklyn man who was convicted on terrorism-related charges in 2005, officials said.
The program is limited, government officials say, to tracing transactions of people suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda by reviewing records from the nerve center of the global banking industry, a Belgian cooperative that routes about $6 trillion daily between banks, brokerages, stock exchanges and other institutions. The records mostly involve wire transfers and other methods of moving money overseas and into and out of the United States. Most routine financial transactions confined to this country are not in the database.

Viewed by the Bush administration as a vital tool, the program has played a hidden role in domestic and foreign terrorism investigations since 2001 and helped in the capture of the most wanted Qaeda figure in Southeast Asia, the officials said.

I wonder if they are referring to Hambali. who provided the money, or to Canadian Mohammed Mansour Jabarah, who paid the bombers directly for the Bali bombing. *
The program, run out of the Central Intelligence Agency and overseen by the Treasury Department, "has provided us with a unique and powerful window into the operations of terrorist networks and is, without doubt, a legal and proper use of our authorities," Stuart Levey, an under secretary at the Treasury Department, said in an interview on Thursday.
Maybe liberals are so shrill about the rights of terrorist because they also enable terrorists.

(Louise Arbour is a Canadian, if that needed clarification.)

*09:46 - FoxNews TV says it was probably Hambali.

12:23 - Newsbeat1 has a nice list of terrorists killed or captured since Zarqawi's death.

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April 02, 2006

Speaking about the U.N.

Apr. 2 - Claudia Rosett asks - and answers - Commentary - How Corrupt Is the United Nations? Keeping up with U.N. scandals is definitely a full-time job, and there are some worrying implications about Ted Turner's foundation and the influence it wields.

David Warren doesn't pull any punches here:

one can’t refer to a “low point” in an institution that is morally bottomless
in his latest essay about the total failure of the U.N. to deal with Iran.

(Via Newsbeat1)

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March 01, 2006

Congo and Chad

Mar. 1 - Two news items with one striking similarity: U.N. troops in 'heavy fighting' with Congo militia and U.N.: Chadians flee to Sudan's Darfur.

The striking similarity can be dispensed with in a few words: colossal U.N. failure. The fighting in Congo ended nearly 3 years of inaction and was begun in preparation for June polls. That means they've given themselves 3 months to restore order in a section of the country that is most noted for its disorder and does nothing about the disorder in the rest of the country and, in short, it seems more like a public relations endeavour than a serious attempt to end the fighting permanently:

Thousands of Congo government soldiers and hundreds of U.N. peacekeepers battled ethnic militia fighters on Tuesday for control of an eastern town, killing some government troops, the United Nations said.

U.N. peacekeepers backed up by helicopter gunships and mortar fire fought alongside the national army to retake control of Tchei, 60 kilometers (37 miles) southwest of Bunia in Ituri district, where militia violence has killed 60,000 people since 1999.


Long accused of doing little to stop fighting in Congo despite peace deals that officially ended a five-year war in 2003, the U.N. has adopted a more robust approach in recent months, aiming to cut militia activity ahead of polls starting in June.

"There are quite a few Congolese soldiers wounded and a few have died," Reichen said, adding that one U.N. soldier had also been hurt though not by enemy fire.


Peacekeepers and Congolese government troops are trying to end chronic violence by a range of different local and foreign armed groups left behind after years of warfare that has killed an estimated 4 million people since 1998, mainly through war-related hunger and disease.

Ituri has seen some of the worst militia violence.

The militia involved in Tuesday's fighting was formed last year from the remnants of rival Hema and Lendu ethnic groups.

Experts say they have resisted disarmament and rejected any form of government or U.N. authority in Ituri to protect their economic interests, which include some mining activities as well as the ability to raise taxes from local civilian populations.

I'm crossing my fingers and assuming that it is the government that is trying to raise taxes and not the U.N., but that may be naive.

The fact that no U.N. peacekeepers were harmed in the fighting is not necessarily a wise thing in a conflict in which the combatants respect manly men. As we Americans have learned to our sorrow, discretion can be confused with appearing weak and no one respects an armed force that seems obsessively fearful of casualties; perceptions as those serve to embolden the enemy, which for some reason doesn't respect those who appear to run away because of or in order to avoid their own bloodshed. (It's not a far stretch to believe that the insurgency in Iraq sustains itself by drawing on the experience of past U.S. withdrawals once blood was shed. We -- or rather the members of our military and support personnel -- are paying for those past mistakes today.)

Furthermore, offering support while staying way behind the battle lines is bound to look cowardly as well as hypocritical. Real allies stand shoulder to shoulder literally as well as figuratively.

The second item is more alarming in that it is a new development of an already bad situation:

Fighting between soldiers and rebels in eastern Chad is sending civilians fleeing into Sudan's Darfur, site of one of the world's bloodiest conflicts over the past three years, the U.N. refugee agency said Tuesday.

Human rights groups have said Chadians are also targeted by cross-border attacks by Sudanese militia. The refugees fleeing the fighting in Chad is "further evidence of the spreading insecurity that now straddles this increasingly insecure region," UNHCR spokeswoman Jennifer Pagonis said.

Most of the Chadians in Sudan are women and children.

Chad hosts about 300,000 refugees who fled the conflict between rebels and Sudanese government forces and militias in Darfur. Sudan has accused Chad of harboring Darfur rebels, who have tribal ties across the border, while Chad has said Sudan backs Chadian insurgents.

Read the whole thing. The complicated tribal associations defy geographical boundaries and maybe, if the international community had any real guts, they'd shred the old boundaries and encourage countries to form on the basis of shared heritages, languages and ethnicity. (Please note the maybe. It's just a thought but it may be more workable than trying to scold the combatants into nationalist sentiments.)

The article notes that the African Union passed over Sudan for rotating chair at their January meeting due to their "concerns over Darfur, Sudan's relations with Chad and its human rights record" which, as things stand, is probably the strongest measure initiated against Sudan by any group over these past few years.

In truth, I doubt the U.N. can resolve the problems of these two countries precisely because it lacks resolve (unless it comes to censuring Israel. Then they're all action.)

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February 28, 2006

Nuthin' from nuthin' means nuthin'

Feb. 28 - You got to have somethin' if you want support from us! La la la!

(If this musical outburst appears unseemly it's on account of all is right with the world because Jimmy Carter and I are on opposite sides again. Thank goodness. Those brief days of agreement were scary.)

Jimmy Carter, Kofi Annan, UNHR Commissioner Louise Arbour*, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch support a severely compromised U.N. proposal to create a new human rights council within the U.N. and John Bolton doesn't (U.S. Opposes U.N.'s Planned Rights Panel.)

John Bolton is holding out for a proposal tough enough to exclude nations that abuse human rights from the panel. His line of reasoning seems reasonable: the inclusion of so many countries that did not practice human rights discredited the current U.N. Commission on Human Rights to the point of rendering it absurd, so why repeat the fiasco?

Support for the proposal seems to stem from fatigue and resignation:

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and other supporters of the compromise warned that there is no better deal to be struck and that the U.S. strategy could undermine their efforts to create an improved, though imperfect, human rights body. "I think we should not let the better be the enemy of the good," Annan told reporters Monday in Geneva.
That Kofi can obfuscate with the best of them. His homily, in that that the compromise cuts the legs off the proposed panel, suggests that unnecessary (and unethical) amputation is the "good," and that choosing a whole and healthy body is the "better."
The United States and the United Nations have been pressing for nearly a year to create a strengthened human rights council to replace the 53-member Human Rights Commission. The reputation of the Geneva-based panel, which helped draft the landmark Universal Declaration of Human Rights, has recently been tainted by the frequent election of members with dismal human rights records, such as Sudan and Zimbabwe.
and Egypt. and China. and Cuba. Aw heck. Membership list from 2001-2005 and membership from 1947-2003 broken down regionally is here.

Senior U.S. and U.N. officials had sought to prevent countries with poor rights records from joining the new organization by raising the membership standards and requiring a two-thirds vote of the 191-member General Assembly for any nation's admittance. But the proposal met stiff resistance, and the current draft resolution would require members to be elected by an absolute majority -- at least 96 countries.

The new panel has the same problem as the current commission: it will be too easy for countries with poor human rights records to be on it. And this is the huge fraking clue:
Annan, who discussed the human rights council Sunday with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, appealed Monday for the United States to "join the vast majority of governments who seem ready to accept" Eliasson's proposal. He and other supporters said the proposal constituted a serious improvement on the existing Human Rights Commission.
(Let's just skip over the peer pressure. Most of those countries are not our peers anyway.) The majority of governments represented at the U.N. are totalitarian governments -- and they support this compromise because

a) they've seen the light and meekly realize they must respect human rights;

b) they're suicidal;

c) they know it's just a coat of cheap paint over mouldy walls.

They noted that provisions to subject all council members to scrutiny of their human rights record would discourage countries with poor records from joining. They also said that council members suspected of abusive behavior can be suspended by a vote of two-thirds of the U.N. membership present.
Two of the supporters, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, already subject every country to scrutiny and publicize their findings. And to what effect? Nary a blush, much less reform. Get real.
The new council would consist of 47 members selected by secret ballot on the basis of "geographical distribution" and committed to "uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights."
The only democratic country in the Mid-East is Israel. Second-runner up is Iraq. Any bets on how many votes either of those countries will receive?

*Louise Arbour is a Canadian.

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October 24, 2005

Reactions to the Mehlis Report

Oct. 24 - I wish I could report on official Canadian reaction to the Mehlis Report but thus far there hasn't been any. The rest of the world isn't waiting for Canada, though, and Detlev Mehlis, who was commissioned by the U.N. to investigate the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, will be addressing the United Nations Security Council tomorrow. It seems likely that the imposition of sanctions on the Assad government will, at the very least, be brought up (U.S., Britain press for action against Syria) :

Diplomats at the United Nations and in Washington said U.S. and French officials have been talking with Russia and other nations about anti-Syria resolutions to put before the Security Council, including the possibility of punitive economic sanctions.
Seems France is still on board, which is good (however deeply I may distrust them.)

It's not really so surprising that Canadian officials haven't commented yet, especially as you'd never know the Mehlis Report was all that damning if you read the CBC webpage today (nor would you find a link to an earlier story on that report.) But you can trust the CBC to emphasize the anti-American element in the following story: pro-government demonstration in Syria today:

In a country where protests are rare, a rally in support of the Syrian government virtually shut down central Damascus Monday.

Among the hundreds of thousands of people at the rally – and a similar event in the northern city of Aleppo – there were government employees let off work for the occasion and students released from classes with the government's blessing.

Imagine: government blessed demonstrations! I haven't seen anything like it in that region since Saddam ruled Iraq. (Do reporters in Syria travel with "minders?" Just asking.)
They chanted anti-American slogans to protest a United Nations report released last week that said Syria and Lebanon played roles in the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri on Feb. 14. (Emphasis added)
They dislike the findings of a U.N. report written by a German so they chant anti-American slogans. I could be really, really wrong but I am beginning to wonder if this might have been a "staged" event.

The CBC fills us in on more items from the report:

The same report also scolded Syria for its less-than-full co-operation with the United Nations investigation.

[I deleted intervening paragraphs which are not about the report's contents but the CBC report is copied in full in the extended entry for your reading pleasure.]

Syria vigorously denies the allegations in the U.N. report, dismissing its contents as politicized gossip.

The CBC does not report that Detlev Mehlis concluded that leading members of the Syrian and Lebanese governments were involved in the assassination nor does it note that last-minute alterations suppressed the names of several leading Syria officials (including members of Bashir Assad's immediate family) raising suspicions that Kofi Annan had broke his pledge not to interfere. In fact, the CBC doesn't even mention that a computer "gaffe" enabled recipients of the report to retrieve the deleted names.

Imperative No. 1 at the CBC is to suppress any news that makes the U.N. look bad or, failing that, downplay it. (Imperative No. 2 is to hype news that makes the U.S.A. look bad; note the lead picture on their Indepth Lebanon page!) That's part of the reason why some of us are somewhat cynical when CBC reporters are named to the Senate or appointed Governor-General. When your job as a reporter includes tainting the news or even failing to report the news, The News Canadians Trust isn't very trustworthy and neither are its reporters.

Although the news report says that there have been calls for U.N. sanctions, no specific country was named (the article does quote President Bush's response to the report, though.) I think it odd that the CBC completely ignored the involvement of both the French and the British not only because of the shared British and French heritage of Canada but also because the two countries are permanent members of the UNSC. Some might think that when 3 out of 5 permanent members are attempting to build a U.N.-based response against Syria that such an event would be newsworthy.

Same old, same old. For the CBC, it's always All. About. America. and not about, say, the Lebanese (or the Iraqis, for that matter) unless it's about a Syrian response which is All. About. America.

The CBC was so anxious to be even-handed that it didn't even mention the response in Lebanon to the report, unlike the AP, Michael Totten and Expat Yank Robert (and the latter has posted some very moving photos of the commemorative ceremonies at Hafrik's grave that were held last Friday.)

14:25: This CTV report on the Syrian demonstrations contains considerably more information about the Mehlis report although no names of suspected perpetrators are mentioned nor is the revelation that the report was altered to removed key names.

There's also a sobering analysis over at Canada Free Press by J. Grant Swank, Jr.: Syria: Murder & mayhem, but who cares? in which he expresses why he believes the Syrians will not be rising up to oust Assad. He makes several good points and, when you come right down to it, this isn't really about internal matters in Syria but that country's behaviour in Lebanon over the past few decades as well as their support of terrorist groups that attack Israel and (I suspect) Iraq.

The following is the CBC report about today's demonstration in Syria:

Syrians turn out for pro-government rally
Last Updated Mon, 24 Oct 2005 10:28:18 EDT
CBC News

In a country where protests are rare, a rally in support of the Syrian government virtually shut down central Damascus Monday.

Indepth: Syria

Among the hundreds of thousands of people at the rally – and a similar event in the northern city of Aleppo – there were government employees let off work for the occasion and students released from classes with the government's blessing.

They chanted anti-American slogans to protest a United Nations report released last week that said Syria and Lebanon played roles in the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri on Feb. 14.

FROM FEB. 25, 2005: UN investigates Hariri assassination

The same report also scolded Syria for its less-than-full co-operation with the United Nations investigation.

Syria is intent on countering growing criticism over the affair, which includes calls for U.N. sanctions against the administration of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

United States President George W. Bush has labelled the report "deeply disturbing," and called on the U.N. Security Council to act immediately to reprimand Syria.

"Syria Will Never be Another Iraq," read one banner hoisted by protesters at Monday's rally. "Wake up Arabs, Your Turn Will Come Soon," said another.

Syria vigorously denies the allegations in the U.N. report, dismissing its contents as politicized gossip.

Detlev Mehlis, the U.N.'s lead investigator, is scheduled to address the United Nations Security Council Tuesday.

Hariri vigorously opposed Syria's domination of Lebanon. He and 20 others were killed when powerful bombs went off near his car in Beirut in early February.

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October 22, 2005

U.N. allegedly doctored report on Hariri assassination (Updated)

Oct. 22 - It is becoming increasingly evident why corrupt governments (like that under the Liberals in Canada) are so comfortable with the workings of the U.N. They have so much in common: lack of transparency, lack of proper accounting controls over expenditures, no whistle-blower protection, a patronage system that rewards corruption, and a brazen willingness to cling to power no matter what the cost - even when it means tampering with their own reports. But covering up a murder? That may be a new low even for the U.N. (as we don't actually know that there is a Rwandan flight recorder in Kofi's safe.)

I wrote yesterday about shame and cited the CNN article that alleged that members of Bashar al-Assad's family were involved in the assassination of Lebanese statesman Hafrik Hariri, but it has now emerged that those allegations were supposed to be suppressed by the office of the U.N. which is yet one more indication of how very unworthy the U.N. is of the esteem many hold for it - unless of course they're thieves or thugs.

Those who doubt the allegations of tampering with the Volcker Report on the U.N. Oil-for-Food Program have another fine mess to rationalize away. From the [London] Times Online: UN office doctored report on murder of Hariri:

THE United Nations withheld some of the most damaging allegations against Syria in its report on the murder of Rafik Hariri, the former Lebanese Prime Minister, it emerged yesterday.

The names of the brother of Bashar al-Assad, President of Syria, and other members of his inner circle, were dropped from the report that was sent to the Security Council.

The confidential changes were revealed by an extraordinary computer gaffe because an electronic version distributed by UN officials on Thursday night allowed recipients to track editing changes.


But the furore over the doctoring of the report threatened to overshadow its damaging findings. It raised questions about political interference by Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary- General, who had promised not to make any changes in the report.

One crucial change, apparently made after the report was submitted to the UN chief, removed the name of President al-Assad’s brother, Maher, his brother-in-law, Assef al-Shawkat, and other high-ranking Syrian officials.

The final, edited version quoted a witness as saying that the plot to kill Mr Hariri was hatched by unnamed “senior Lebanese and Syrian officials”. But the undoctored version named those officials as “Maher al-Assad, Assef Shawkat, Hassan Khalil, Bahjat Suleyman and Jamal al-Sayyed”. (Emphasis added)

It should be noted that the author of the report, Detlev Mehlis, denied that anyone "outside of the report team influenced these changes and no changes whatsoever were suggested by the Secretary-General.” But then he would say that, wouldn't he, and it doesn't explain the changes that were reportedly made after the report was delivered Annan but before the report was presented to the U.N.S.C.

Hmm, I wonder where does Annan's deputy assistant, Louise Frechette, was at the time? One's second-in-command plays many roles and not all of them are above-board, as anyone who's ever tangled with bureaucracy can attest, and the second-in-command is often deemed expendable when scandal explodes beyond any possible level of containment.

The big question is why would officials at the U.N. tamper with the report? and at who's behest? It's easy to assume that there was a quid-pro-quo at work, but who stood most to gain?

The easy assumption is that, in the name of stability, the U.N. does not wish to see Assad's government fall. That argument was used during the lead up to the Iraq War but, as was later revealed, there were far more persuasive economic reasons (which included billions of dollars collected by the U.N. itself for "administrative fees") to prop up Saddam than a reverence for stability, mass graves and human rights violations notwithstanding. But Assad does not have the same degree of international protection as did Saddam, and even though Arab states may wish to protect him they would surely be wise enough by now to recognize when it's best to leave a sinking ship.

This is only a blog and I'm allowed personal pique, so I vote for France as the ones who stand most to gain by protecting Assad - in part because I really hate those bastards, and in part because I really don't trust them. All the strong words coming out of France about their determination to track down the murderers of Hariri and their support for Lebanon were very nice and made for great press so long as unnamed persons were suspected but now the dots connect all the way to Assad's immediate family (I guess it would be a cheap shot to point out here that France does have a history of collaboration with fascism, so I'll forbear.)

Words really can come back to haunt us. France has been forced into a corner from which all the nuancing in the world cannot extricate them (although I suspect they'll try) so they may now have to actually live up to their promises.

Who says history is dead?

As an aside, the computer "gaffe" itself is very interesting, no?

(Free registration may be required to read the Times Online. I really don't remember at this point which online periodicals required my registration and which were quickly accessible. Sorry about that.)

(Via Neale News.)

Oct. 22 - 01:06: Michael Totten reports from Lebanon on the response there to the Mehlis Report and has some great photos. I find the one of someone scrawling on a wall "And the truth shall set you free" to be particularly apt.

Posted by Debbye at 10:14 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 13, 2005

Eye on the U.N.

Oct. 13 - Great article: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde at the U.N..

The inability of the U.N. to declare that acts of terrorism against Israelis are terrorism highlights why the U.N. has no true moral credibility. They talk and they meet and they issue inoffensive platitudes - unless they're attacking Israel or the USA. So why does the American taxpayer continue to fund that body?

Eye on the U.N. might be a good site to bookmark (passing on some good advice from Newsbeat1 where I got this link.)

Posted by Debbye at 09:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 26, 2005

The value of Unasked Questions

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.

Salim Mansur, always a favourite around here, doesn't mince words: Paul Martin out of touch in reference to Martin's speech to the U.N. (text of speech here.)

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.

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."

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.

Has anyone asked why Martin felt it necessary to plagiarize the president of the United States?

Claudia Rosett writes The Buck Still Hasn't Stopped (link via Newsbeat1) that the "definitive report" issued by the Volcker Inquiry is "hefty" but not definitive.

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.)

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.

Not asking the right questions could be due to oversight or ineptitude, right? Right.

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 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.

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:
He also maintains it failed to delve thoroughly into his claim that the problems with decision writing were widespread.

“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.”

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.

After all, if you don't ask, you won't know. Nor will we.

Posted by Debbye at 04:54 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

September 15, 2005

Terrorism and world poverty

Sept. 15 - The U. N. continues to dither over defining terrorism and taking a firm stand for freedom. Iraq President Talabani had no difficulty in identifying it during his response (scroll down) to Bush's welcome speech to the White House on Tuesday:

We have also people who are in -- (inaudible) -- who are cooperating with Iraqi forces, and with American forces against terrorism. It is a good signal that our people start to understand that terrorism is the enemy of Iraqi people before becoming enemy of Americans. They are killing our civilians, or innocent children. They are destroying our mosques -- church, everywhere, regardless of what may happen to the people.
Yesterday's terror attacks in Baghdad continued the sad connection with the dead of Sept. 11 in New York, March 11 in Madrid, and July 7 in London: those whose only crime was going to work were murdered by the same merciless group as took the lives of those seeking employment. And what is employment if not a means to secure income to meet the necessities of yourself and your family?

Those who were killed because they have or seek jobs join the fallen of Beslan who were guilty of no more than attending school and the many victims of terror attacks who were guilty of no more than shopping at a local market, enjoying a vacation in Bali, or working in the tourist industries of Bali, Egypt and Kenya.

There is much truth to assertions that poverty plays a role in recruiting to terrorist organizations, but doesn't that beg the question as to why many terrorist actions seem to be intended to further poverty?

Member countries of the United Nations may be unwilling unable to define terrorism, but most of us can see that one of terrorism's goals is to defeat the hopes of people who want to better their lives.

I never thought it probable that the U.N., in which a majority of the member nations are dictatorships, would actually stand up for freedom and human rights anyway but it is interesting to note that terrorism is - properly, in my view - being framed as being a major obstacle to ending world poverty. It seems to me that the British proposal to the U.N. is aimed not only at the bureaucrats, rock stars and NGOs but also to everyday people, most of whom can connect dots and who rely on their common sense more than deconstructionist obfuscations.

Given today's attacks in Iraq in which at least 30 were killed, President Talabani's address to the U.N. in which he asked that the world help defeat terrorism resound all the more eloquently.

On a related note, for those who find it hard to believe that al Qaeda attacks people simply because they want to be free today's roadside bombing in Kabul and the timing of yesterday's attacks in Iraq as well as the threats leading up to last January's elections there should at least be suggestive:

The wave of bombings, which began shortly after dawn and continued until about 4 p.m., coincided with Iraqi lawmakers announcing the country's draft constitution was in its final form and would be sent to the United Nations for printing and distribution ahead of an Oct. 15 national referendum. Sunni Muslims, who form up the core of the insurgency, have vowed to defeat the basic law.
A final thought: the leadership of Iraq continues to impress me with their steadfast refusal to be goaded into a civil war. An old Civil Rights song urged we "keep our eyes on the prize / hold on" and today's Iraqis are exhibiting that kind of resolve. They are truly heroes.

Let Freedom Ring!

[FYI: President Bush's speech to the UNSC is here. British PM Tony Blair's address to the U.N. summit is here (with thanks to Robert for the latter link.) Also, President Bush is not impressed with the UNHRC and blasts them (link via Neale News.)]

Posted by Debbye at 06:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 18, 2005

The Real UN Blog

June 18 - Given the discussion over the House bill requiring that the U.S. withhold funding from the U.N. until some long overdue measures for fiscal accountabiliy and whistle-blower protection are implemented, it is imperative that we take a sober look at the vital role of the U.N. in today's world.

Blair Hansen wrote something a while back that I think worthwhile to read in the light of this debate: The Real UN Blog. It puts everything into the proper context.

(I really hope he starts posting again.)

Posted by Debbye at 10:27 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 15, 2005

The future of the U.N. (updated)

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.

"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 other words, the U.N. is only as good as the members, and the majority of member countries are dictatorships.
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."


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.

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.

Posted by Debbye at 03:55 AM | Comments (1)

June 08, 2005

HR committee passes bill on reforming the U.N.

June 8 - By a vote of 25-22, the House International Relations Committee passed a U.N. Reform Bill, short-titled The United Nations Reform Act of 2005 (.pdf) which ties U.S. funding of the U.N. to reforms in that institution.

From Fox,

Among the reforms demanded are new accountability measures, the establishment of an independent oversight board with broad investigative authority through the Office of Internal Oversight Services and new procedures to protect whistleblowers. The OIOS, under the bill, would have the authority to initiate investigations into mismanagement and wrongdoing, establish procedures to protect U.N. employees or contractors who report allegations of misconduct and establish policies to end single-bid contracts.
I guess it hardly need be noted that many of those reforms are also needed in Canada.
"Scandals involving the Oil-for-Food program, peacekeeping operations, the World Meteorological Society, the World Intellectual Property Organization, as well as alleged wrongdoing by high-level staff have illustrated the systemic weaknesses in the U.N.'s current oversight efforts," reads a statement from Hyde's office outlining the bill's main points.

U.S. lawmakers also want new rules for financial disclosure, including forcing senior U.N. officials to declare their financial interests. They also are asking for an ethics office to be created to ensure those officials don't take advantage of their position overseeing certain measures to line their own pockets.

The reform act also insists on more stringent codes of conduct for U.N. peacekeepers and stronger investigation of allegations of rape and abuse on U.N. missions. It mandates that the United Nations adopt a single, enforceable, uniform code of conduct for all personnel serving in peacekeeping missions and that peacekeepers are trained on the requirements of that code. The code also should be translated into the native language of the peacekeeping troops, the bill says.

Additionally, the Hyde bill calls for the creation of a centralized database to track cases of misconduct to make sure those individuals aren't sent on future peacekeeping missions. Alleged misconduct should be independently investigated by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Office of Internal Oversight Services, according to the bill.

Democrats opposing the bill believed that the reforms should not be tied to U.S. funding.

U.N. officials responded as one might expect:

The United Nations would not comment on specific reforms, but U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the organization itself have been "very clear" on the issue of tying U.S. funds to U.N. reform and that "withholding as a tool for reform is not one we feel works."

Posted by Debbye at 06:21 PM | Comments (6)

June 05, 2005

Joseph Stephanides - fall guy?

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.

Posted by Debbye at 03:01 AM | Comments (1)

May 10, 2005

Unaccountable bureaucracies

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...

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.

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.

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.

Posted by Debbye at 01:45 PM | Comments (5)

April 22, 2005

Saddam, Martin and Strong

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.

Posted by Debbye at 09:26 PM | Comments (2)

April 21, 2005

Maurice Strong steps down

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.

Back to Strong (see here and here for background to the story behind this story):

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.

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.

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.

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.

Posted by Debbye at 04:53 PM | Comments (4)

April 16, 2005

Bribery investigation in Swiss U.N. Building Contract

Apr. 16 - I can't find a source other than the NY Times at this point: Swiss Investigates Possibility of Bribery in U.N. Contract:

A Swiss judge is investigating possible bribery charges involving a $50 million contract to renovate the headquarters of a Geneva-based United Nations agency, according to government documents and Swiss and American officials.

Jean-Bernard Schmid, the Geneva-based judge who has led the criminal inquiry, said in a telephone interview on Friday that his investigation was focusing on Michael Wilson, who was a consultant to the company that won the renovation contract at the World Intellectual Property Organization.

Mr. Wilson, a Ghanaian businessman, has been identified by investigators as a business associate of Kojo Annan, the son of Kofi Annan, the United Nations secretary general. The judge said Kojo Annan was not a target of the investigation.

Investigators said the judge was trying to determine if Mr. Wilson had bribed a senior official at the United Nations agency to win the renovation contract. Edward Kwakwa, the agency's legal counsel, said Khamis Suedi, a top official at the intellectual property agency, acknowledged having received 325,000 Swiss francs, about $270,000, from Mr. Wilson, but said the money was from a private business venture that had no connection to the agency's construction contract. In an interview, Mr. Suedi said he had had nothing to do with the awarding of the contract.


Mr. Wilson's relationship with Kojo Annan was cited in a recent report issued by the United Nations commission investigating its oil-for-food program in Iraq. According to the commission, Mr. Wilson was a vice president at Cotecna Inspection S.A., a company that worked for the oil-for-food program, and Mr. Wilson helped get Mr. Annan a job at the company.

After both men left Cotecna, they became partners in a consulting business in Africa, according to investigators in the United States and Europe. Kojo Annan's lawyer, Clarissa Amato, declined comment for publication.

The Swiss investigation concerns Mr. Wilson's activities in Geneva. Mr. Kwakwa said Mr. Wilson had been an intern at the intellectual property agency "decades ago" when his father was posted in Geneva as an ambassador from Ghana. Mr. Kwakwa said that more recently Mr. Suedi told officials there that he and Mr. Wilson had been doing work that involved "benevolent, nongovernmental organizations." Mr. Kwakwa said the outside work had been approved by the agency.

Rough night. Need sleep.

In a March interview, Mr. Suedi said that he and Mr. Wilson had done some consulting work in connection with the prospective purchase and management of hotels in Tanzania, but that it "hadn't worked out."

Officials said that after opening the investigation last year, Judge Schmid ordered Mr. Wilson jailed for nine days, during which investigators reviewed his computer files and bank records. Investigators said he was released after he agreed to cooperate with the inquiry and acknowledged having received a large consulting fee from the BPS construction consortium - comprising Béric S.A., Perret and Seydoux-DMB, - that renovated the headquarters. He also acknowledged having made a payment to Mr. Suedi.

The agency is one of several United Nations agencies and affiliated organizations whose management practices have recently been criticized by internal and outside reviews. A review published in February by United Nations officials in New York recommended substantial changes in the agency's budgeting and personnel policies.

"The inspectors believe a headquarters review and needs assessment should be undertaken urgently," says the review, a copy of which is posted on the agency's Web site.

Posted by Debbye at 10:06 AM | Comments (2)

April 15, 2005

American arrest in U.N. Oil-for-Food scandal

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.

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.)

The story in the Washington Post says much the same:
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.

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.

Any Canadian who read the NY Times or Washington Post today is probably speculating too!

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.

Posted by Debbye at 10:19 AM | Comments (8)

April 14, 2005

David Brooks, meet Wretchard

Aprl. 14 - David Brooks has a straight-forward style that I really love. He uses words like "squishier" and phrases like "arcane fudges" that cut across the blather of nuance - which is basically the art of saying nothing but to say it well - and makes his points squarely and unequivocally.

Today's column is a gem (Loudly, With a Big Stick.) In the course of explaining why John Bolton will make a terrific Ambassador to the U.N., (he's there to represent the U.S.A., remember?) he explains why Americans will never accept some lofty world government and, at the risk of breaking a great many trans-nationalist hearts, exposes the primary reasons why people who love liberty and self-rule would never accept it either.

We'll never accept it, first, because it is undemocratic. It is impossible to set up legitimate global authorities because there is no global democracy, no sense of common peoplehood and trust. So multilateral organizations can never look like legislatures, with open debate, up or down votes and the losers accepting majority decisions.

Instead, they look like meetings of unelected elites, of technocrats who make decisions in secret and who rely upon intentionally impenetrable language, who settle differences through arcane fudges. Americans, like most peoples, will never surrender even a bit of their national democracy for the sake of multilateral technocracy.

Second, we will never accept global governance because it inevitably devolves into corruption. The panoply of U.N. scandals flows from a single source: the lack of democratic accountability. These supranational organizations exist in their own insular, self-indulgent aerie.

We will never accept global governance, third, because we love our Constitution and will never grant any other law supremacy over it. Like most peoples (Europeans are the exception), we will never allow transnational organizations to overrule our own laws, regulations and precedents. We think our Constitution is superior to the sloppy authority granted to, say, the International Criminal Court.

Fourth, we understand that these mushy international organizations liberate the barbaric and handcuff the civilized. Bodies like the U.N. can toss hapless resolutions at the Milosevics, the Saddams or the butchers of Darfur, but they can do nothing to restrain them. Meanwhile, the forces of decency can be paralyzed as they wait for "the international community."

Fifth, we know that when push comes to shove, all the grand talk about international norms is often just a cover for opposing the global elite's bêtes noires of the moment - usually the U.S. or Israel. We will never grant legitimacy to forums that are so often manipulated for partisan ends.

The last paragraph is direct:
Sometimes it takes sharp elbows to assert independence. But this is certain: We will never be so seduced by vapid pieties about global cooperation that we'll join a system that is both unworkable and undemocratic.
"Vapid pieties!" Alas, I know them well. I've encountered most of them living in a member of the Axis of Weasels and Adscam Country.

With a terrific sense of contrast, Wrethard examines the French disenchantment with the EU Constitution taking a Guardian article as his base line and expands it into a post that parallels the Brooks column which, although they pursue different paths, come to similar conclusions about the sense of what it is to be a "nationality."

He calls passage of the EU Constitution a "Faustian bargain"

{French] People are beginning to understand the document before them but the political salesmen are determined to offer any combination of rebates, coupons, special offers and financing to get the final signature on the contract of sale. Stephen Benet's "The Devil and Daniel Webster" speaks of the belated remorse that so often follows Faustian bargains, though like as not there will be no reprieve from the consequences of this deal.
There is no Plan "B" to ratifying the Constituion, so "the field [is] open to the first European leader able to articulate a viable and alternative trajectory for the nations of the old continent."

Although Wretchard explains a great many economic and political reasons why the French might reject the EU Constitution, I believe the answer may be far more basic: they don't want to stop being that indefinable thing that makes them unique which would happen were they to relinquish self-rule.

I think the French (as are the British, Dutch, and most especially the Eastern European countries who are unwilling to trade Soviet dominance for French dominance) are actually expressing a yearning they dare not admit to because it would make them just like us Yanks: love of country, love of those intrinsic matters that define them as unique, and love of being (don't laugh) French.

[Note the final paragraph in the Guardian article! They feel they need to cheat to win, which is most definitely not a sign of confidence.]

Posted by Debbye at 07:23 AM | Comments (2)

March 23, 2005

Oil-for-Food to pay Sevan's legal fees

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.

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.

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.

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."

Posted by Debbye at 02:21 AM | Comments (4)

March 20, 2005

Don't mess with Australian diggers

Mar. 20 - Investigations into allegations of sexual exploitation by U.N. peacekeepers has brought this to light: in 2001, an Australian digger who reported allegations of abuse in East Timor had to be defended and Diggers drew guns during a confrontation with Jordanian troops.

Australian digger Corporal Andrew Wratten had been told by some children that Jordanian peacekeeping troops had offered them food and money for sex.

"Wratten informed PKF (peacekeeping force) that he had been receiving complaints from local children about Jorbatt (Jordan Battalion) abuse," said a senior UN official who was based in Oecussi at the time.

"A Jordanian officer in HQ informed Jorbatt that he had ratted on them. Wratten and his guys manning the helo (helicopter) refuelling pad in Oecussi town started getting threatened.

"There was one occasion where Aussie Steyrs were pointed at Jorbatt and Jorbatt M-16s pointed at Aussies."


Corporal Andrew Wratten had to be evacuated and Australian commandos sent to protect Diggers in Oecussi, an East Timorese province in Indonesian West Timor, after he told the UN of the pedophilia that occurred in May 2001.

The Australians drew their Steyr assault rifles after being confronted by Jordanians armed with M-16s, in an escalation of verbal threats triggered by the betrayal of Corporal Wratten by a Jordanian officer in the Dili headquarters of the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor.

Two Jordanian peacekeepers were expelled in July, 2001, after an investigation into the abuse.

As no Jordanian is quoted in the above story, we don't have their side as to what happened and the Jorbatt involved may not even have been aware that they were protecting pedophiles.

Posted by Debbye at 08:48 PM | Comments (26)

March 18, 2005

UN Whistleblower blasts Oil-for-Food

Mar. 18 - Whistle-blower: 'Gaping holes' in oil-for-food:

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.

"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.

Mullick was a data analyst for the U.N. program, and his duties included monitoring the humanitarian shipments into Iraq.
"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.

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.)

So who did he alert? Was it Frechette?

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!
Oh, Freedom!
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.

Posted by Debbye at 06:11 PM | Comments (2)

March 15, 2005

Everything you ever wanted to know about Power Corp.

Power Corp chart.jpg
Kevin Steel, Western Standard

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.


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.

Read the whole thing. Email the link to your friends.

Posted by Debbye at 07:35 AM | Comments (0)

March 01, 2005

Frechette blocked UNSCAM probe

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.

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.)

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.

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.)

Posted by Debbye at 04:27 PM | Comments (33)

February 03, 2005

UN envoy horrified by attacks in Darfur

Feb. 3 - The top U.N. envoy in Sudan, Jan Pronk, has urged that peace be achieved before the January 2006 African Union summit which is to be held in Khartoum (Darfur attacks horrify U.N. envoy.)

He noted something that has been fairly obvious to most people who've been following the situtation in Darfur:

Pronk said one of the most worrying points of the report was that these human rights abuses were continuing during the investigation, between November and January.
He's right to be worried, because those engaged in the genocide crimes against humanity don't care about the investigation, the report or the U.N.

I'm sorry if I seem snippy. I'm sure the U.N. envoy means well, but attacks on civilians by the Janjaweed have been widely reported for nearly a year yet the situation remains unchanged and the U.N. continues to dither, delay and argue definitions rather than look at what is being done to the (former) inhabitants of the Darfur region.

Maybe the U.N. should change it's motto to "It's Your World (Until Someone Makes you Re-Locate.")

Pronk did have some good words to say about the African Union troops dispatched to the region as truce observers and urged that more be sent, and although he stopped short of accusing the Sudanese government of complicity, he did urge them to stop making low flights over the areas because it might give the impression that they are doing reconnaissance for the Jajaweed.

Posted by Debbye at 07:19 AM | Comments (0)

December 02, 2004

U.S. Ambassador Danforth resigns

Dec. 2 - U.N. Ambassador John Danforth resigns. No explanation given thus far, but it certainly is curious.

Posted by Debbye at 07:20 PM | Comments (23)

November 23, 2004

150 sex abuse cases charges in Congo Peacekeeping

Nov. 23 - Michelle Malkin calls it The U.N.'s Abu Ghraib, citing an item from Reuters: U.N.: 150 sex abuse charges in Congo peacekeeping.

The United Nations is investigating about 150 allegations of sexual abuse by U.N. civilian staff and soldiers in the Congo, some of them recorded on videotape, a senior U.N. official said on Monday.

The accusations include pedophilia, rape and prostitution, said Jane Holl Lute, an assistant secretary-general in the peacekeeping department.

Lute, an American, said there was photographic and video evidence for some of the allegations and most of the charges came to light since the spring.


In May the United Nations reported some 30 cases of abuse among peacekeepers in the northeastern town of Bunia, where half of the more than 10,000 soldiers are stationed.

Last month, one French soldier and two Tunisian soldiers were sent home, U.N. officials said. Three U.N. civilian staff were suspended.

So action has been taken: some peacekeepers have been sent home, 3 U.N. staff members were suspended and an inquiry has been initiated. It resembles Abu Ghraib because here too the story was broken after corrective measures had begun, but I think it unlikely the photographic and video evidence will receive the same (if any) exposure as the infamous ones from Abu Ghraib (I wouldn't want to be the only person not to say that!)

Needless to say Kofi Annan is shocked and outraged, but as the article notes,

The United Nations has jurisdiction over its civilian staff but troops are contributed by individual nations. Consequently, the world body has only the power to demand a specific country repatriate an accused soldier and punish him or her at home.
The fact that Reuters has reported on it is significant, but this isn't the first report of sexual abuse by U.N. peacekeeping troops in the Congo. When I followed a trackback to Malkin's post to U.N. Seraglio in the Congo getting little attention at Captain's Quarters he cited his May 25 post UN Implements Sex-For-Food Program In The Congo from a report in The Independent (which is possibily about cases referred to in the 6th paragraph of the Reuters article?)

It will be easy to blame Kofi Annan for the growing pile of scandals that are plaguing the U.N. from Oil-to-Food, to possible attempts by IAEA head Mohammed El Baradei to influence the U.S. election, to the reports of misbehaviour at best and criminal behaviour at worst by the very troops sent to protect innocent people but which in fact victimize them. It will, in fact, be too easy to place the lion's share of blame onto one person and a few flunkies and then, feeling absolved, quickly move on.

But the problem isn't just Kofi Annan. The problem is the U.N. itself, which is composed of unelected, unscritinized, and unaccountable people. They presume to usurp moral authority from legally elected governments, pander to dictators and statists, and are as corruptible as all humans - and in that last all-important detail we find that dangerous flaw to which we are all subject (you know, the one about the inevitability of power corrupting mere mortals.)

I hope I'm not breaking any, er, blogiquette by posting a link to a May 2 Telegraph article UN threatens authors of 'racy' expose take from one of the Captain's commenters on the May post. The article says:

The United Nations has threatened to fire two officials who wrote an expose of sleaze and corruption during its peacekeeping missions of the 1990s.

Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary-General, is understood to have favoured an attempt to block publication of the memoir, Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures, a True Story from Hell on Earth, due to be published next month.

Still reeling from the Iraqi oil-for-food scandal, officials in the upper echelons of the UN are alarmed by the promised revelations of wild sex parties, petty corruption, and drug use - diversions that helped the peacekeepers to cope with alternating states of terror and boredom.


The co-authors, who met in Cambodia in 1993 and later worked in Haiti, Kosovo, Liberia and Somalia, claim that petty corruption over expense accounts and living allowances was rife.

Ms Postlewait was in her early thirties when she went on her first trip abroad for the UN, supervising elections in Cambodia. There, she soon worked out that she could save enough money from her expense account to set herself up nicely back in New York. In other frauds, UN staff were said to quote blackmarket currency exchange rates to pad out their expenses.

The authors also complain that they encountered "bureaucratic betrayal" on missions, as the UN allegedly struck cynical deals with corrupt local officials.

Much as we might fondly imagine otherwise, people who work for the U.N. are not saints but people with all the fallibilities - including greed and pride - that beset each of us.

(Via Michelle Malkin and following the trackback to Captain's Quarters.)

14:09 From this post at Friends of Saddam's, it seems AP has picked up the story with some notable additions:

The United Nations mission in Congo has about 10,500 soldiers and police as well as 1,000 international staff from 50 countries. It began in 1999. Investigators are now checking the 15 other U.N. peacekeeping missions around the world to see how widespread the problem is, Lute said.

Allegations of sex abuse and other crimes have dogged U.N. peacekeeping missions almost since their inception in 1948. It's been difficult to clamp down because the United Nations doesn't want to offend the relatively small number of nations who provide most of its peacekeeping troops.


In recent years, the United Nations has tried to clear up sex abuse problems by putting more emphasis on training peacekeepers - known as "blue helmets" for their distinctive headgear - and re-emphasizing codes of conduct.

But Lute said those efforts have not kept pace with the massive growth in peacekeeping missions, and their complexity - where soldiers often are deployed in highly volatile, lawless areas rather than manning clearly defined truce lines.

Lute said U.N. leaders were now determined to get tougher. On Friday, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he was "absolutely outraged" by the allegations.

So-called "personnel conduct officers" have been sent to the missions in Congo, Burundi, Ivory Coast and Haiti. (Bolding added.)

That last sentence forces me to wonder if there have been allegations in those places as well.

Posted by Debbye at 12:45 PM | Comments (7)

November 22, 2004

Salim Mansur

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.

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.

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.

Posted by Debbye at 03:59 AM | Comments (0)

November 18, 2004

Another warning for Sudan

Nov. 18 - Annan has issued the 'Strongest warning' yet to the government and rebels in Sudan and expressed disappointment that they had not adhered to a cease-fire agreement signed previously.

The U.N. has not really dealt with the ongoing murder and "relocations" in Sudan beyond admonitions to play nicely, but

The council is expected to adopt a resolution on Sudan Friday.

The council's draft resolution is holding out a carrot of development aid, including debt relief for all parties, once a north-south pact is sealed. But so far there is no sign of a stick other than U.S. sanctions.

There are divisions on the 15-member council. Russia, China, Pakistan and Algeria object to strong language in a draft declaration condemning the atrocities in Darfur.

Earlier, the four abstained on a council resolution threatening an oil embargo if the Sudanese government failed to rein in the militias and hold them accountable for human rights atrocities.

In September, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell -- who has called the violence in Darfur a genocide -- accused the four countries of valuing business with Sudan over humanitarian concerns.

China's protective attitude toward the Sudan government may be due to the fact that they are the largest purchaser of oil from Sudan and have contracts for exploration and development in that country.

The U.N. is caught again in an ongoing atrocity of a member state, and
I doubt I'm the only person to point out that there haven't been massive demonstrations in front of Sudan embassies or the U.N. Although it's only been 10 years since the genocide in Rwanda and less than a year since dignitaries attended solemn commemoration ceremonies there and intoned "Never Again," the international community merely watches as it happens again.

Posted by Debbye at 05:34 PM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2004

Ivory Coast update

Nov. 11 - Things aren't going too well in Ivory Coast: Foreigners Evacuated From Ivory Coast but there will be talks:

The mayhem, checked only intermittently by Gbagbo's government, has been unanimously condemned publicly by Gbagbo's fellow African leaders and drawn moves toward U.N. sanctions. It threatens lasting harm to the economy and stability of Ivory Coast, the world's top cocoa producer and once West Africa's most peaceful and prosperous nation.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa said that President Thabo Mbeki (search) would open the talks Thursday in Pretoria.

Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad said Ivorian rebel and opposition leaders, including former prime minister Alassane Outtara, will arrive in Pretoria on Thursday for the talks.

South African Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said a resolution to the crisis was critical.

"A full scale war in Ivory Coast could affect a lot of other countries in the region," she told a parliamentary committee on foreign affairs in Cape Town. "We need to contain it in Ivory Coast and bring it under control, or it could turn into a regional problem."

The violence began Saturday when Ivory Coast warplanes killed nine French peacekeepers and an American aid worker in an airstrike on the rebel-held north in three days of government air attacks that violated a more than year-old cease-fire in the country's civil war.

France wiped out the nation's newly built-up air force on the tarmac within hours. The retaliation sparked a violent uprising by loyalist youths who took to the streets waving machetes, iron bars and clubs.

Including the airstrike, the turmoil since Saturday has claimed at least 27 lives and wounded more than 900. The toll, likely incomplete, includes the 10 victims of the airstrikes, five loyalists whose bodies were shown on state TV, and 11 loyalists and one Ivorian security force member received Monday and Tuesday by hospitals. Ivory Coast presidential spokesman Alain Toussaint said 37 loyalists had died.

I'm not being flippant about the situation, because this does indeed impact on Ivory Coast's neighbours, but the failure to actually resolve the situation has kept that region simmering for the past three years and unresolved conflict tends to harden lines rather than soften them.
At the United Nations, France revised a U.N. Security Council resolution Wednesday to give Ivory Coast more time to resurrect a peace process with northern rebels or face an arms embargo and other sanctions, diplomats said.

The decision to push back the deadline from Dec. 1 to Dec. 10 was made at the request of the United States, which thought Ivory Coast's government and the rebels needed more breathing room to return to the peace process, diplomats said on condition of anonymity.

The "condition of anonymity" part translates to "grain of salt" but I would suspect that talks would be useless until there is a willingness by both side to actually work at sharing power, and Pres. Gbagbo has a poor record on that score.

Nov. 18 - 19:45: Pres. Gbagbo says they are not at war with France and appealed to the USA:

The Ivorian leader also appealed to the world's superpower to intervene on his government's behalf -- helping him with France, and with disarmament of rebels holding Ivory Coast's north.

"Americans have a good role of mediation to play ... since the French conducted themselves the way they did," he said.

"Americans can serve as a unifying force and Americans can bring pressure to bear so that disarmament takes place."

I trust the US government won't take the bait. The minute we go in it will be called a quagmire.

Despite the arms embargo the U.N. imposed Nov. 15, Gbagbo plans to rebuild his air force and the rebels have vowed to fight on.

Posted by Debbye at 11:38 AM | Comments (3)

November 08, 2004

Annan speaks

Nov. 8 - It just wouldn't be right to end the weekend without noting the latest nonsense thoughtful pronouncement uttered by the U.N.'s Secretary-General: Annan Warns Assault May Affect Vote:

UNITED NATIONS — U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan (search) warned U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq that new military campaigns in Fallujah and other insurgent strongholds could jeopardize upcoming elections, according to a letter obtained Friday.

In the letter dated Oct. 31, Annan told American, British and Iraqi leaders that the United Nations wants to help prepare for the elections, scheduled for the end of January, but fears a rise in violence could disrupt the process.

"I have in mind not only the risk of increased insurgent violence, but also reports of major military offensives being planned by the multinational force in key localities such as Fallujah," Annan wrote in the letter, obtained by The Associated Press.

What-freaking-ever, Kofi. Some people would think that securing Fallujah would, you know, lead to a more stable Iraq (unless you support the "insurgents," in which case you would naturally be disturbed that they are being removed.)

But I am also aware that Def. Sec. Rumsfeld was correct in pointing out that, although it's not the best scenario, elections could be held without the participation of Fallujah and other spots that remain "insurgent" hotbeds. Somehow, I suspect Kofi doesn't like that option either, though.

Is it possible that Kofi is against elections whatever the scenario? Couldn't be, could it? Surely he's not among those dictators and tyrants that fear the spread of democracy to the Middle East, is he?

Like many over here, I'm following the news from Fallujah and other hot-spots but unlike Kofi, I'm rooting for victory rather than the kind of stability (read stalemate) the U.N. promotes in Kosovo and Ivory Coast.

Pray for those who serve, and remember how much we owe them. Semper fi!

Posted by Debbye at 01:05 AM | Comments (5)

October 28, 2004

Those missing explosives wrap-up (for now)

Oct. 28 - Okay, I had some dinner (it's a shift work thing) and have had time to try to let this thing settle. The fact remains that the IAEA inspectors cannot have inspected the explosives if the bunkers were sealed, so the repeated assertions that they "inspected the explosives" is simply untrue - the inspectors merely looked at the seals.

I'm willing to attribute the inaccurate assertions of "inspected the explosives" to careless wording by the New York Times and other news media, but if the ABC story that the bunkers were readily accessible without breaking the seals holds up and we remember the NY Sun article stating that the IAEA refused to destroy the explosives despite the urging of the inspectors, some of the statements in that NY Sun article suddenly seem more than speculative:

On Monday, a spokesman for the American mission at the United Nations questioned the timing of the release of the material on the part of Mr. ElBaradei. Rick Grenell told the Sun's Benny Avni the "timing seems puzzling."

After a behind-the-scenes battle inside the State Department this summer, the Bush administration opted to reject Mr. ElBaradei's bid for a third term as director general of the atomic energy agency.

At the time, Washington was collecting intelligence - disputed by some agencies - that Mr. ElBaradei was providing advice to Iran on how to avoid sanction from his organization for its previously undisclosed uranium enrichment programs.

Mr. al-Baradei has publicly urged the Iranians to heed an earlier pledge to suspend enrichment, but he has also opposed America's policy of taking Iranian violations to the U.N. Security Council. Mr. al-Baradei has announced he will nonetheless seek a third term. Nominations for the director general position close on December 31. [Emphasis added.]

The bolded portion of the article is a bombshell but really, why shouldn't we consider that possibility? The investigations into the U.N. Oil-for-Food program revealed a bureaucracy without accountability, and had coalition forces not liberated Iraq and removed the Saddam regime, we would never have known about the extent to which that program was corrupt, the inspections would have gone on until they declared Iraq disarmed, and the sanctions would have been lifted. Saddam would have resumed his quest for WMD (including nuclear capability) and the world would have been in mortal danger.

Suddenly Hans Blix is no longer merely irritating and Mohammed El Baradei is no longer merely pompous. They are two incredibly powerful men who literally had the world in their care and dropped the ball. The question is if it was due to negligence or corruption.

The case for war has suddenly, in retrospect, been altered. (No, I don't think the president lied, but I've always assumed that the government concealed information - not out of malevolence toward the American people but because that is the nature of being at war.)

Many of us who supported the war had some lingering hope for the inspection process but recognized that regime change, which is to say removing Saddam and his psychotic sons, was the only right thing to do. But now we are faced with the fact that Iran and N. Korea have or are close to having nuclear capability and it was done on the El Baradei's watch.

The mood of the American electorate as both El Baradei and Benon Sevan are revealed to be incompetent at best or corrupt at worst will not bode well for the U.N. The one poll that hasn't been conducted lately is to assess the confidence of Americans in the U.N., but the most recent ones had indicated growing disillusion with that organization, and that will be a consideration when voters cast their ballot for "American unilateralism with staunch and valiant allies" or "global test."

Five.More.Days. Judging by the past four days, it will be longer than a lifetime.

Posted by Debbye at 12:04 PM | Comments (0)

October 25, 2004

Kosovo update (depressing)

Oct. 25 - This report on the Kosovo elections is sharply critical of the failure of the U.N. and the recent elections (Kosovo poll reveals failure of UN rule) which were notable for their apathy and the boycott by Serbs:

Early results from the weekend's general election showed that five years of UN rule had only deepened ethnic divisions as Kosovo's voters signalled their despair with the Balkan province's administrators.

Barely more than half of Kosovo's 1.4 million voters went to the ballot box. While the province's majority ethnic Albanians were struck by apathy, its 130,000-strong Serb minority was seized by anger and completely boycotted the poll.

Only a handful of Serbs voted, following calls from Vojislav Kostunica, the Serbian Prime Minister, and the Serbian Orthodox Church to stay away. Mr Kostunica described the election as a "failure".


A victory for the moderate Albanian LDK party of current President Ibrahim Rugova was indicated by early results but it has once again fallen short of an outright majority and will have to form a coalition.

Once formed, the local government will have a slim portfolio of responsibilities, while all meaningful power remains with the UN.

The provisional result equates to a maintenance of the political status quo by default, as both Kosovo's bitterly opposed ethnic Albanians and Serbs signalled their dissatisfaction with foreign rule.


At the moment, though run by the UN, Kosovo is still officially part of Serbia and a land which Serbs have cherished for centuries.

Long happy to do nothing, Kosovo's international administrators were stung by riots in March that made clear that maintaining the stand-off was counterproductive. Now Kosovo appears deadlocked.

Not the most postitive outlook.

Posted by Debbye at 12:24 PM | Comments (0)

July 02, 2004

Saddam's hearing and the U.N. in Sudan (updated)

July 2 - The Toronto Sun isn't overlooking the ugly nature of Saddam on the cover of today's online edition although they do seem to favour the insanity explanation: Iraq's Mad Man on Trial. The AP story they've printed on Saddam's appearance before the court , Madman gives a piece of his mind, is definitely not sympathetic and reminds us that Saddam was pulled out of a hole. (I, for one, never get tired of remembering that!) Today's Sun also carries the AP story Hang him, Iraqis urge, which indicates that Iraqis are fully aware that he is getting the open trial he denied to so many others and are gratified to see him before a court for his crimes.

I feel the lack of the word "high" from that last title. I'm not sure why: hanging is hanging and elevation shouldn't be all that relevant, but all the same I want them to hang him high.

Is it too much to hope that the drumbeats of those who declare the Iraqis are incapable of trying Saddam will die down? (Probably.) At least this hearing has re-focused attention on the mass graves and years of torture that was, for many of us, a primary cause for the forcible removal of Saddam.

Is Saddam Hussein a mad man? Or was he power mad? The simplest explanation for those who abuse power is probably the correct one: they do so because they can. Our forefathers certainly understood that danger when they placed so many checks and balances onto our political system. [One article of interest in today's NY Times is by Simon Sebag Montefiore, Tyrants on Trial, which draws some interesting parallels between Saddam and Stalin, although he delves into the psychology of the two men more than to my liking.]

[Update July 3 - 00:40: Totally whacky Captioned Saddam pics! Rock, Paper, Scissors ... (thanks to Rocket Jones for the link.)]

The best read in today's NY Times is another excellent article by John Burns. He writes:

At the start, the young Iraqi investigative judge, his identity shielded from disclosure by Iraqi and American officials fearful of his assassination, stared straight back at Mr. Hussein, barely 10 feet away, and said plainly, "former president."

"No, present," Mr. Hussein said. "Current. It's the will of the people."

"Write down, in brackets, `former president,' " the judge told the court clerk.

This debate over his status is not just defiance on Saddam's part, but essential to his defense in some countries:
Mr. Hussein's point, repeatedly, was that it was unthinkable for him to be charged for his actions as Iraq's leader, since that gave him immunity, and, he implied, the defense that even murder or military aggression was justified if he deemed it in Iraq's interest.
In some countries, as the USA, presidents are accountable before the law. In others, such as France, they aren't accountable during their times in office although they can be prosecuted after they step down.

As I surmised yesterday, Saddam has been watching enitrely too much CNN:

He told the judge, "You know that this is all a theater by Bush, to help him win his election."
Expect this to become a constant accusation from the left as they will undoubtably spin all gains in Iraq as being about our election rather than Iraq's future.

The alternative explanations are much simpler: we honour our committments, and we genuinely believe in liberty.

Burns makes the connection that many of us make and must not be lost during the election spin that will accompany much of the analysis not only of this preliminary hearing but of the handover as well:

There were echoes of past war crimes trials at Nuremberg after World War II, and at The Hague after the wars of the 1990's that ravaged the former Yugoslavia, when one after another of the men argued that he could not be held personally accountable for actions ordered by others, or carried out in the name of the "leadership," meaning Mr. Hussein and a handful of men in his innermost circle. All they had done, several defendants argued, was to follow orders or assent to actions they had no power to halt, even as high-ranking military or intelligence officials or as members of the Revolutionary Command Council, the country's most powerful and feared political body.

One who took this approach was Tariq Aziz, the 68-year-old former deputy prime minister, a Chaldean Christian who conducted many of Iraq's foreign negotiations, including the failed efforts to head off the Persian Gulf war after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Mr. Aziz cut a figure of unshakable self-confidence in power, stalking the marble halls of Baghdad's palaces pulling on a cigar, boasting until the last weeks before the American attack in March last year that he and other government leaders would be "shadows" by the time American troops arrived in Baghdad, uncatchable. In fact, he gave himself up shortly after Mr. Hussein's government was toppled.

At Thursday's hearing, he, like many others, was a shadow, in another sense, of his former self. His shoulders bowed, his head forward, he mopped his brow, bit his lip, blew his nose, and wrung his hands. He sat through the hearing with the chain used to manacle him dangling at his waist. Once a man who prided himself on his well-cut suits, he seemed not to notice the chain nestling against his ill-fitting, American-bought suit.

The swaggering thugs that looted and terrorized the Iraqi people are now revealed to be mere mortals who, having lost their lionized status, are being treated like the criminals they are and being held to account for their crimes. One has to wonder what people in countries like Iran and Zimbabwe think as they witness a murderous dictator and his once-merry band brought before the people they once terrorized and are forced to face justice.

Don't underestimate the value of broadcasting Saddam's trial to the world. It's going to give a lot of people ideas and maybe even hope.

Citing the precedent of Nuremburg invokes many principles: that genocidal murderers will not be given free passes just because they delegated murder to subordinates, that "following orders" is no defense (note that it wasn't an acceptable defense for the Abu Ghraib defendents), and that the world must not stand by while genocide occurs.

Contrary to the song, two out of three is bad. The U.N. has become an after-the-fact prosecutor of war criminals, thus glossing over it's feckless inability (or unwillingness) to prevent war crimes.

The situation in the Darfur region of Sudan is finally gaining widespread attention and the vanity that accompanies the U.N. as an internationally recognized font of legitimacy has been exposed for the facade that it is.

Again, from the NY Times an article by Marc Lacey

EL FASHER, Sudan, July 1 - There were only donkeys milling around in a soggy, trash-strewn lot on Thursday afternoon when the United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan, and his entourage arrived at what was supposed to be a crowded squatter camp here in the troubled Darfur region of Sudan.

Gone were the more than 1,000 residents of the Meshtel settlement. Gone as well were their makeshift dwellings. Hours before Mr. Annan's arrival, the local authorities had loaded the camp's inhabitants aboard trucks and moved them.

"Where are the people?" Mr. Annan was overheard asking a Sudanese official who was accompanying his tour of Darfur, the region in western Sudan where the government has been accused of unleashing armed militias on the local population to quell a rebel uprising.

Al Noor Muhammad Ibrahim, minister of social affairs for the state of North Darfur, explained that the camp on Mr. Annan's itinerary no longer existed. He said the government had relocated its residents the evening before, sometime after United Nations officials had paid a visit at 5 p.m. on Wednesday in preparation for a stop by Mr. Annan.

"It's not because the secretary general of the United Nations is here that we moved them," Mr. Ibrahim insisted as incredulous United Nations officials looked on. Mr. Ibrahim said the conditions were too grim for the people there and that humanitarianism, not public relations, had motivated him to act. "We did not like seeing people living like that," he said.

Mr. Annan, who did not leave his vehicle, stayed silent as visibly agitated aides argued with the Sudanese authorities about the sudden relocation. The government urged Mr. Annan to visit another settlement, a nearby camp with far better conditions which Secretary of State Colin L. Powell had toured Wednesday during his brief stop in Darfur.

"Of course, it is of concern," that the government had moved so many people so suddenly, Mr. Annan said later in an interview. "We are trying to sort it out."

It is impossible for me to read this story and not have a snarky reaction, but that diminishes the real human tragedy of the situation in Darfur.

[Update 18:08: Ouch! Michelle Malkin is calling the relocations the Sudanese Shuffle.]

I think the USA has her hands full right now with Iraq, the nuclear threats from Iran and North Korea, and the missions in Bosnia, Kosovo, Haiti, etc. It's time for the enlightened international community to prove it's mettle by stepping up to the plate in Sudan (and no, I don't see that happening.)

Sadly, this would have been a perfect opportunity for Canada to assert herself as the world's foremost peacekeeping nation, but the years of neglect for the military up here have taken their toll and the true victims are people like those in Darfur.

21:23: This links to the Annan story at the Washington Post for anyone searching for the story past the NY Times's miserly expiration date.

Posted by Debbye at 12:29 PM | Comments (5)

June 12, 2004

The feckless UN in Iraq, Serbia and Iran

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.

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)

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.
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.

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)

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.

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.

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.

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.
Now top UN officials are under investigation. Mr Soussan hopes the shock will force a major debate on how to deal with rogue regimes.

"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.

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?
If such major questions have to wait, a little more transparency would help, for starters.

"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)

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.

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.

Posted by Debbye at 05:39 PM | Comments (4)

June 08, 2004

Iraq sovereignty a fait accompli II

June 8 - I'm torn between being thrilled for the Iraqi people and wanting to say "duh" (Unanimous U.N. Approval of Iraq Plan.)

There are a few wrinkles according to some of the quotes from member nations of the UNSC in the article, yet none of those wrinkles seem to have been supported by modifications to the resolution and can be dismissed as empty rhetoric.

Despite the victory, four members of the G-8 summit -- France, Germany, Russia and Canada -- have said they won't send troops.
Canada has no troops she can commit, and given the Russian deployment in Chechnya I doubt it would be advisable to bring Russian troops in. As for France, well, there's that accordian on a deer hunt meme ...

I saw a clip on MSNBC with Pres. Bush and PM Martin in which the President mentioned soft wood lumber and Canada's contribution to the war on terror. Martin reiterated Canadian support of the US war on terror.

The President also said that Canada is strongly cooperating on finding ways to cooperate, which I read to mean that Canada continues to prefer cooperating quietly and without public awareness. The Liberal Party has put themselves in an increasingly awkward situation. Lord help them if there should be a terrorist attack here before the elections. The mood has changed, the Tories have pulled ahead in the polls, and Paul Martin may be the only Canadian who remains oblivious to that fact.

Hubris. Martin and the Liberal Party can look it up.

The original draft is here (heh, with "spelling appearing to follow British usage." Sometimes Fox coverage is somewhat embarrassing.)

Posted by Debbye at 05:17 PM | Comments (0)

May 26, 2004

Towards a free Iraq

May 26 - Monday night, President Bush made the first in a series of speeches in which he will lay out plans for implementing the goals of Operation Iraq Freedom, the role we are playing, and the steps to transfer power to the Iraqi people (Troops Are in Iraq to Make It Free.) The text of the speech is available here.

Our coalition has a clear goal, understood by all -- to see the Iraqi people in charge of Iraq for the first time in generations. America's task in Iraq is not only to defeat an enemy, it is to give strength to a friend — a free, representative government that serves its people and fights on their behalf. And the sooner this goal is achieved, the sooner our job will be done.
The president laid out five steps for achieving this goal. The first is the transfer of power to Iraqis. U.N. Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi will be working with Iraqis to set up an interim council including a President, two Vice-Presidents, a Prime Minister, and 26 Ministers. 12 government ministries are already under the control of Iraqis.
All along, some have questioned whether the Iraqi people are ready for self-government, or even want it. And all along, the Iraqi people have given their answer. In settings where Iraqis have met to discuss their country's future, they have endorsed representative government. And they are practicing representative government. Many of Iraq's cities and towns now have elected town councils or city governments - and beyond the violence, a civil society is emerging.
The foundation for a free society comes from the bottom - grass roots democracy - and establishing Iraqi control over local, day-to-day government is what will build the confidence of Iraqis that they can take control of their country and build it for the betterment of their and their children's futures.

The second step is to establish security and stability. I think that is the most difficult and most exciting of the tasks at hand, because implementing that step will ultimately involve a transfer of power as well, although it now takes the shape of partnership, itself a signficant if risky endeavour. Referring to the steps taken in response to events at Fallujah:

We want Iraqi forces to gain experience and confidence in dealing with their country's enemies. We want the Iraqi people to know that we trust their growing capabilities, even as we help build them. At the same time, Fallujah must cease to be a sanctuary for the enemy, and those responsible for terrorism will be held to account.
Somebody referred to the failed uprisings fomented by the Sunnis and Muqtada al-Sadr as "the dog that didn't bark," referring to the things that haven't happened as more indicative of the state of affairs in Iraq than those things that have happened and which have been reported.

The Sunnis have not revolted in significant numbers. Shi'as have not joined Muqtada al-Sadr. The indignation over Abu Ghraib has been exploited everywhere but with noticeable silence from Iraq itself.

Only the future will be able to adequately judge the steps taken by the US and her allies to establish consensual government in a Mid-east country. I doubt the debate will end soon, but I remain committed to the cause.

Read the president's speech and judge for yourself. As we have said so often, the ability to read the documents ourselves rather than rely on the filter of others is one of the most exciting gifts of the internet.

Posted by Debbye at 07:12 PM | Comments (0)

May 21, 2004

Raid on Chalabi's House

May 21 - Much has been made of the raid on Chalabi's house yesterday (U.S. mililtary raids Chalabi's home, with more here and here) but there was also this CPA briefing.

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?

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.

The briefing also explains the relationship between the Iraqi police, investigations, and at what point Bremer takes a role.

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?

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.

David Frum has an post on the Chalabi raid and, in fact, Chalabi himself here.

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.

May 22 - 00:02: More thoughts from Adam Daifallah vis this Shotgun post, Roger Simon, and Stephen at Friends of Saddam.

Posted by Debbye at 06:45 PM | Comments (0)

May 20, 2004

Australia (Football) Rules

Mah 20 - Ozguru is liable if my fall off my chair resulted in any injury ... he's got two posts that require Hazard to Your Gravity warnings: Insufficient Corruption and Real Footy.

I've seen those men in the white suits on the rare airing of Australian football. It's freaking surreal.

Posted by Debbye at 06:44 PM | Comments (2)

May 18, 2004

UNSCAM and Canada

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.

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.

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.
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.

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.

The involvement of Arthur Millholland is unproven; Martin ties to the Desmarais family is common knowledge.
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.

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.

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.

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.

Posted by Debbye at 03:54 AM | Comments (8)

May 15, 2004

Failure of the U.N. Mission in Chad (updated: and Kosovo and Eritrea)

May 15 - If the prisoner abuse was a "body blow" to US efforts in Iraq, what is the following to U.N. efforts in Chad, and, by extension, to anything they might undertake in Iraq?

Chad's poor left to help each other:

In the past year, Tine's population has more than doubled as refugees have poured out of the Darfur region of western Sudan, fleeing Arab militiamen mounted on horses and camels who are waging a campaign of ethnic cleansing against their black Muslim neighbours.

Many could only watch as members of their families were executed by the Janjaweed, as the militiamen are known. Most lost their possessions when their houses were burned down. All were exhausted after walking for days through the desert.

Sudan, by the way, is the new chair for the U.N. Human Rights Commission.

The United Nations has described the war in Darfur as the world's worst humanitarian crisis at the moment.

It is running an emergency relief programme for Darfur refugees but will not operate on the border, saying it is too dangerous.

Families have been waiting for up to two months, their lives at risk from shelling, cross-border militia raids and water shortages, to transfer to UN camps 20 miles into Chad.

Aid workers from other agencies have accused the UN of inefficiency and perhaps worse.

"What is going on here is very dark," said one western aid worker at a non-UN agency.

"Money seems to have disappeared. Who knows whether it has been stolen or whether it has just disappeared in the UN machine. The inefficiency is astounding."

Refugees cannot walk into the half-empty camps. Regulations demand that they must be turned away if they do.

It would seem that the United Nations has run out of money. Lorries supposed to transport refugees to the camps lie stranded as there is not enough for fuel. Drivers have been on strike because they have not been paid for a month.

Do you suppose that the murky doings and theft that accompanied the Oil for Food scandal was just business as usual at the U.N.?

Don't look for any NY Times editorials demanding that Kofi Annan resign, though, or for Sen. John Kerry to denounce the U.N. for its failure in leadership. It's been a four-year long election year, after all, and the U.N. represents that International Community which holds The High Moral Ground.

May 17 - 18:02: Looks like the missions in Kosovo, Serbia and Eritrea have produced a booming sex trade in those regions.

Posted by Debbye at 04:27 PM | Comments (0)

May 03, 2004

The United Nations

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.

Posted by Debbye at 01:50 PM | Comments (0)

May 01, 2004

The U.S. and Canada on the U.N.

May 1 - Appears UNSCAM isn't going unnoticed by the Bush administration. Glad Jack's Newswatch caught these while I was putting out fires yesterday: 'Hang' U.N. Oil Ra$cals:

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?

Read this and this and see if you can figure it out.

Maybe Martin took flip-flop lessons from Sen. Kerry ...

May 3 - 13:47: Roger Simon and commenters have more on Martin's speech here.

Posted by Debbye at 09:52 AM | Comments (0)

April 29, 2004

UN orders stop to WMD trade

Apr. 29 - This is all very nice, UN moves to prevent spread of WMD black market, but how does that square with this report wherein Kofi said the U.N. didn't have a mandate to stop oil smuggling out of Iraq despite the sanctions and despite the fact that the biggest importer of oil that bypassed the sanctions was UNSC member Syria?

Kofi's got some explaining to do.

Posted by Debbye at 12:33 PM | Comments (0)

April 27, 2004

UNSCAM (Updated)

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.

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?
You just know where he's going. Keep the pressure on.

Posted by Debbye at 07:23 PM | Comments (0)

April 26, 2004

Who pays for UN peacekeeping?

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.

[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...

Note that the $11bn figures doesn't include Gulf War I or Kosovo.

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.

Posted by Debbye at 11:11 AM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2004

Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, France

Apr. 19 - There were persistent rumours throughout last winter that a spring offensive would be launched against Syria, possibly in Lebanon. Many bloggers, including me, backed off when we suddenly realized that the rumours were probably true.

One of the older rumours asserted that WMD were hidden in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. My oldest complains that we Americans communicate as much by what we don't say as by what we do say; for example, I interpreted the president's joke about searching his office for WMD as saying Yes, we are still looking for them. I also interpret the fact that the administration has not said that there were no WMD in Iraq as asserting that intelligence still believes that they were there and the rumours and spin around WMD are a smokescreen to confuse the enemy.

Saddam's WMD weren't central to my support of the Iraq War; removing Saddam and Iraq's geographical position were. Nevertheless, finding them is a priority. The fact that Jordan hasn't released specifics about the chemicals that were to be used in the thwarted attack is suggestive but inconclusive and highly frustrating. Is the lack of specificity to hide intelligence or to produce rumours? Take your pick.

Despite the certainty stated by King Abdullah of Jordan that Assad was not involved in the thwarted terrorist attack, the firefights on the Syrian border with Iraq are extremely suggestive: either Assad isn't doing anything to stop them or he is passing information to both the Jordanians and the US.

I think it more likely he is trying to do both, but my view is skewed by the fact that I don't trust him.

Apr. 22 11:30 Further speculation that this could be connected to Saddam's missing WMD.

Wretchard concludes

Indeed, it is virtually certain that Al-Qaim, Ramadi and Fallujah and the road network from Baghdad constitute a single "front" centered on Syria, whose principal axis is the Euphrates itself. Operations in Fallujah cannot be understood without putting it in the context of the wider area.
Read the report on the front at al-Ramadi by Oliver North: Back in Iraq if you haven't already done so not only for a military analysis of what is happening there but also to restate what is a major strategy in Iraq: encouraging the people there to participate in their own nation building.

That practice is contrary to the politics of victimology. For all the modern psychobabble about "empowerment," our touchy-feely philosophers back away from actually allowing people true power over their lives. It's all very well to claim you feel my pain, but insulting when you're causing it.

The US media, with notable exceptions, continues bewail that the U.N. isn't going to take charge. The American people who follow the news, meanwhile, are watching the stymied independent U.N. investigation as well as the Senate investigation into the U.N. Oil for Food program and more questions about the viability of the UN are being raised.

[Aside: I noted that Glenn Reynolds has referred to it as UNScam.]

In the classic definition of conservative, those trying to preserve institutions and social attitudes despite their lack of relevance but strictly for preservation's sake are the conservatives. The U.N. is an excellent case in point, and the argument that it should be preserved "because we don't have anything better" is a classic conservative argument; a classic liberal response would be "let's build a better institution."

Do we need new definitions? Maybe liberal-conservative and conservative-liberals might fit the reality if not the emotional.

Sometimes I think the real war is between the Departments of State and Defense. Michael Ledeen has a brilliant essay in the Opinion Journal The Iranian Hand that notes revelations by the Italian intelligence agency

That the war being waged by Shiite militants throughout Iraq is not just a domestic "insurgency" has been documented by the Italian Military Intelligence Service (Sismi). In a report prepared before the current wave of violence, Sismi predicted "a simultaneous attack by Saddam loyalists" all over the country, along with a series of Shiite revolts.
The Italians knew that these actions were not just part of an Iraqi civil war, nor a response to recent actions taken by the Coalition Provisional Authority against the forces of Sadr. According to Italian intelligence, the actions were used as a pretext by local leaders of the factions tied to an Iran-based ayatollah, Kazem al-Haeri, who was "guided in his political and strategic choices by ultraconservative Iranian ayatollahs in order to unleash a long planned general revolt." The strategic goal of this revolt, says Sismi, was "the establishment of an Islamic government of Khomeinist inspiration." The Italian intelligence agency noted that "the presence of Iranian agents of influence and military instructors has been reported for some time." Our own government will not say as much publicly, but Donald Rumsfeld and Gen. John Abizaid, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, have recently spoken of "unhelpful actions" by Iran (and Syria).


The editor of the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Seyassah recently wrote a front-page editorial saying that Hezbollah and Hamas were working with Sadr, "backed by the ruling religious fundamentalists in Tehran and the nationalist Baathists in Damascus." No classified information was required for that claim, since Sadr himself has publicly proclaimed that his militia is the fighting arm of both Hezbollah and Hamas. Nonetheless, the State Department still doesn't believe--or won't admit publicly--that there's a connection between Sadr's uprising and Iran's mullahs. Just last week, State's deputy spokesman, Adam Ereli, told reporters that "We've seen reports of Iranian involvement, collusion, provocation, coordination, etc., etc. But I think there's a dearth of hard facts to back these things up."

One wonders what Foggy Bottom's analysts make of Sadr's recent visit to Iran, when he met with Hashemi Rafsanjani (the No. 2 power in the regime), Murtadha Radha'i (head of intelligence for the Revolutionary Guards) and Brig. Gen. Qassim Suleimani (the al-Quds Army commander in charge of Iraqi affairs). And what might they say about the fact that much of Sadr's funding comes straight from Ayatollah al-Haeri, one of the closest allies of the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei?

Ledeen is being rhetorical. We know how Foggy Bottom thinks: maintain the illusion of friendship and cooperation whatever the cost, including lives.
Above all, they [the American people] want to hear our leaders state clearly and repeatedly--as Ronald Reagan did with the "Evil Empire"--that regime change in Iran is the goal of American policy. Thus far, they have heard conflicting statements and mealy-mouthed half truths of the sort presented by Mr. Ereli, along with astonishing proclamations, such as the one by Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, in which he averred that Iran is "a democracy." (One wonders whether he will liken Muqtada al-Sadr to Patrick Henry.)
Fortunately, we don't have to rely on the State Department for news out of Iran. Feminists in particular might take note of this story from The Student Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran which recounts the rescue of a woman who was taken into custody for "non-Islamic comformity."

The details of the evidence which led to the issuing of an arrest warrant for Muqtada al-Sadr in the murder of Abdul Majeed al-Khoei poses one glaring question: to what extent, if any, was Iran implicated in that murder? Al-Sadr has openly proclaimed his solidarity with Hezbollah and Hamas - based to the east and to the west of Iraq - and I think it more likely that his solidarity was a statement of fact rather than an attempt to form a coalition.

Mr. Armitage (and the State Department) might also read the open letter to Congress of March 11 before he pronounces Iran to be a democracy. As for Sen. Kerry's blunderous call to drop sanctions against Iran, he will probably try to flip-flop-flip on that too but certainly the pro-democracy forces in Iran won't be fooled.

I suspect that cleaning up State will be a post-election endeavour given Bush's victory, but the cost of allowing them to continue to set their own policies may turn out to be high indeed.

I include France in this because of a that French passports are missing: 10,000 in February (6,300 were stolen on Feb. 3 and 3,000 disappeared on Feb. 10.) The story also notes that

The Feb. 3 incident, the FBI said, also included the theft of 5,000 blank French driver's licenses, 10,000 blank car ownership certificates, 25 titres de voyages (Geneva Convention travel documents) and 1,000 international driver's licenses without any identification numbers.
There are reasons other than terrorist-related to steal passports, of course, and the number of French passports missing is minor compared to Canada's 25,000 annual rate.

Relationship to Iran? Possibly none, or possibly another dot to the French-built nuclear facility.

Aside: Stealth posting is a pain. I don't have the time necessary to paintakingly link everything from past events much less draw definitive conclusions from current events.

But I doubt I really need to connect things for most readers and do it more to clarify my own thoughts.

Disclaimer over. And I am so far behind in my (ahem) real work.

Posted by Debbye at 11:32 AM | Comments (0)

April 03, 2004

Sudan: Rwanda or Kosovo (Updated)

Apr. 3 - A short while ago there was a lot of talk - lots and lots of talk - about how badly Kofi Annan felt that he did nothing to stop the massacres in Rwanda (actually, he did "something": he ordered the withdrawal of a large body of UN troops.)

April 7 marks the anniversary of the bloodshed, but naturally the "world leaders" aren't going to attend the memorial service in Rwanda, all too Bloody Typical, as Paul notes.

There have been several danger signs in Sudan with claims that Arab militias are forcing black Africans out of their villages and into refugee camps in neighbouring Chad, and the UNSC is having a meeting about it.

"I have no reason to believe that the government is actively planning it, but I have reason to say that little is done to stop it, and therefore it seems as if it is being condoned," Jan Egeland, the world body's humanitarian affairs chief, said after briefing the Security Council.

"Scorched-earth tactics are being employed throughout Darfur, including the deliberate destruction of schools, wells, seed and food supplies, making whole towns and villages uninhabitable," he said, describing an "organized campaign" that has driven hundreds of thousands from their homes and triggered "one of the world's worst humanitarian crises."

Following his briefing, the 15-nation council issued a statement calling on the Sudan government and rebel groups to protect civilians in the northeast African nation, help aid workers gain access to needy regions, agree on a humanitarian cease-fire and "reach a political settlement to the dispute."

Darfur peace talks opened this week in N'Djamena, the capital of neighboring Chad, where the United Nations says tens of thousands of Darfur refugees have fled.

But the talks have gotten off to a slow start, with the first few days devoted to "talking about talks," Egeland said.

US diplomats say that representatives from Pakistan and Algeria "watered down" the resolution, the two countries deny it, and, in short, the UN shows how vital and effective it is when dictatorships control the agenda in the name of multilateralism.

The Sudanese government this week arrested a leader of the Opposition and several others on charges they had tried to overthrow the government, but even so, Sudan's U.N. ambassador, Elfatih Mohamed Ahmed Erwa, says the claims of the UN are exaggerated.

Egeland noted that the situation in the Sudan should not be compared Rwanda as the inhabitants are being forced out of the area but not being killed.

Am I supposed to feel better that the situation is closer to that in Kosovo, another country in which the UN failed to act?

Remind me again why multilateral institutions like the UN are essential to world peace and the advancing of human rights. As talk is cheap, surely the UN is the biggest 'ho house in town.

23:41: Lt.-Gen. Romeo Dallaire (Ret.) will attend the April 7 ceremony.

Apr. 5 - 23:10: This NY Times piece explains the "talks about the talks" comment:

The most important step now, he said, was to get a cease-fire declared. But reports from Ndjamena, the Chadian capital, where talks were under way, indicated that the combatants' representatives would not even enter the same room. The negotiations had descended into "talks about talks" while people continued to die, Mr. Egeland said.

Posted by Debbye at 09:33 AM | Comments (4)

March 27, 2004


Mar. 27 - I'm running late for work, but this item is one of the reasons I didn't want us going in to Haiti: Caribbean leaders won't recognize U.S.-backed Haitian government.

If the UN backs up US action in Haiti, it will be because that body is just a puppet, right?

Far better than we had let Aristide dither and dally as did former Liberian president Charles Taylor, right?

No. Win. Situation.

I'm late, so check out the blog roll and enjoy the excellent Toronto weather.

Posted by Debbye at 10:17 AM | Comments (0)

March 26, 2004

Rwanda Memorial Conference

Mar. 26 - What happens when UN Sec.-Gen. Kofi Annan and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister share sanctimony and a platform? Absolutely nothing (unless you count me getting a 3-aspirin headache.) The concept of "happens," which presupposes an ability to "act," doesn't exist in their dimension.

But there were a lot of sanctimonious words from both men over their dereliction of duty which led to the Rwanda genocide (At Rwanda Memorial, Annan Takes Blame for U.N.) but which (surprise!) stopped short of actually suggesting some corrective measures:

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Friday opened a memorial conference on the 1994 Rwanda genocide by accepting institutional and personal blame for the slaughter of 800,000 civilians that was initially ignored by world leaders.

"The international community is guilty of sins of omission," said Annan, who was head of the United Nations peacekeeping agency at the time and had asked countries to provide troops.
Next time try to state what the mission was. Some of us still remembered Somalia.
"I believed at the time that I was doing my best. But I realized after the genocide that there was more that I could and should have done to sound the alarm and rally support," Annan said in a speech to open the "Memorial Conference on the Rwanda Genocide."

It was not the first time that the secretary-general had criticized the United Nations and his own mistakes, but he said the painful memory of Rwanda and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the mid-1990s "has influenced much of my thinking, and many of my actions" as head of the world body.

Name a subsequent UN action that was influenced by events in Rwanda, just to humour me. Hint: answering a phone call from the next man assigned to a mission similar to that of Dallaire doesn't count. (Come to think of it, you didn't respond when two peackeepers in the Congro were in trouble, either.)
Canada, which has been a leading organizer of much of the U.N.'s self-examination
Is that another way of saying collective but still unproductive naval-gazing?
over Rwanda, said on Friday that the international community had not yet learned how to build structures capable of withstanding such brutality next time.
Because Iraq doesn't count. That genocide was being funded through the UN Oil-For-Food program.
"Or, to put it more starkly, we have learned what we need to do but I suggest, colleagues, we lack the political will
We? Who we? Not my we, although maybe your we.
to achieve the necessary agreement on how to put in place the type of measures
Predator. Hellfire. End of problem.
that will prevent a future Rwanda from ever happening again," Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham told the memorial conference.
As for Canada, events in Rwanda and Bosnia-Herzegovina startled the government into awareness that if Canada was to lead the world in peacekeeping efforts they would need to re-invest in their military after the deep spending cuts that had reduced Canada's once-proud military to sub-standard. /sarcasm

After all, Chretien's purchase of two executive jets from Bombardier came out of the defense budget, remember? /not sarcasm

And millions of dollars were skimmed by person or persons unknown at the DoD for fraudulent invoices from someone who no longer workds for H-P. /not sarcasm

Many thanks to reader Nik for the link.

UPDATE: Mar. 28 - 10:02: Dalliere recounts his anguish. Note this:

Dallaire, 57, has been widely lauded as a hero for his efforts to draw the UN's attention to what was about to happen in Rwanda in early 1994. He warned that unless more soldiers were sent and his orders changed to allow his troops to use force to prevent slayings, then a massive number of lives would be lost.

Instead, the UN cut its peacekeeping force from about 2,500 international soldiers to just 270. Dallaire and other military officers in Rwanda believe they could have prevented what happened if the United Nations had beefed up its peacekeeping force to 5,000 troops. (Emphasis added)

One might say the UN cut and ran when the going got tough.

UPDATE: Mar. 29 - 01:03: Good article from the Economist Rwanda, Remembered.

Posted by Debbye at 05:06 PM | Comments (12)

March 25, 2004

African Uranium

Mar. 25 - Remember when the Blair government said that Saddam was trying to get uranium from an African nation?

Look what the UN found: Illegal Uranium Mining in Congo, UN Wants Answers.

SHINKOLOBWE, Congo (Reuters) - A mine in Congo that provided uranium for the first atomic bombs is being illegally quarried and the potentially dangerous raw material exported without control, industry experts say. That rang alarm bells with the United Nations Thursday and the U.N. nuclear watchdog said it had asked the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo for more information.

"If there is the possibility that large quantities of uranium are being mined and exported, it is disturbing," said a spokeswoman for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).


"The uranium from Shinkolobwe is mostly uranium-238, and therefore not immediately fissionable," says Professor Fortunat Lumu, Atomic Energy General Officer at Congo's Ministry of Scientific Research in the capital Kinshasa.

"It could only be dangerous in the hands of those countries that have, or are trying to develop, expensive nuclear reactors and laser technologies that can process uranium-238 into highly radioactive materials," he said.

Shinkolobwe was once prospected by North Korea, which sent a team of engineers to the site in 1999, only to be thrown out after Washington put pressure on Congo's government.

Nowadays, local residents say, it is Indian, Pakistani, Chinese and South Korean smelter operators who are buying up the amalgamate compounds for smelting in Likasi -- an industrial town not far from Shinkolobwe -- or for direct export.

Thanks to Nik for sending me the link.

Posted by Debbye at 04:43 PM | Comments (0)

You are what you eat

Mar. 25 - This is somewhat worrisome:

UNITED NATIONS -- The brainpower of entire countries has diminished because of a shortage of the right vitamins, and slipping nutrients into people's food seems to be the only solution, a new UN survey says. To fight the problem, the United Nations is prescribing a whole pantry of artificially fortified foods: Soy sauce laced with zinc, "super salt" spiked with iron, cooking oil fortified with vitamin A.
Some things, like fluoride, have been slipped into our drinking water with beneficial results.

But to take a quasi-idiotarian stance, why would I trust the UN to not slip additives into food that make people more complacent and less likely to rebel? The UN does seem to interpret their charter as preserving the status quo even under dictators, however brutal that status quo may be.

They better not try to slip any tofu onto my pizza. Seriously.

Posted by Debbye at 11:15 AM | Comments (0)

March 20, 2004


Mar. 20 - Two reports in the Daily Telegraph about the arrival of troops from Europe and a quite sobering one about the coordinated attacks on Serbs and the destruction of their homes and farms after they fled - ethnic cleansing, anyone?

There is also a piece in the NRO by Damjan de Krnjevic-Miskovic Kristallnacht in Kosovo. It isn't an objective commentary, but does reinforce something that struck me when the violence first broke out: the accusation that Serbs caused the drowning deaths of the children (one account claimed that Serbs dared the children to swim the river!) was painfully reminiscent of stories like The Prioress's Tale from The Canterbury Tales and the variety of accounts of how Serbs were said to have been responsible for the drownings confirmed my suspicions.Can we all say Incite to Riot? This is so out of the KKK Hand-book (but without the "first liquor the mob up" part.)

CNN reports one version of the drowning story from a UN official (although not as a version!) and also that Putin denounced the attacks and that

Russia's parliament passed a resolution condemning the failure of international organizations to stem the violence in Kosovo and said military forces from Serbia-Montenegro's government should be allowed to help defend the province's Serb population, AP reported.
This poses the question if NATO and UN forces are up to the job. The UK responded quickly and firmly and probably stopped the violence from continuing but that's scant comfort for those who watched their churches and home burning.

Yet those who believe there is an international community really think involving the UN in Iraq would be an improvement there?

UPDATE: Mar. 21 09:35: A report from the other point of view in today's Telegraph here. This article too is pessimistic about the prospect of building Kosovo as a multi-ethic society.

Posted by Debbye at 09:18 AM | Comments (4)

March 17, 2004

The U.N. Card

Mar. 17 - Bob takes apart a recent Globe and Mail piece by Salim Lone, "director of communications for the UN mission in Iraq". Sigh. Bob makes it look so easy.

UPDATE: Mar. 19 10:20: Commenter Sammie pointed to this USAID Mission to Iraq page. Establishing honest and democratic local governance is, for me, the key to success in Iraq. Local control over local affairs is the basis of democratic, accountable government. We call it grass-root democracy, and it safeguards democracy in a country (but it seems the UN is still struggling with the concept that people should have control over their own lives. Bureaucracies are like that.)

Posted by Debbye at 09:02 PM | Comments (2)

March 09, 2004

Kofi Annan in Canada

Mar. 9 - Kofi Annan spoke before the Canadian parliament (Canada is a pillar of the UN, Annan says) and at a banquet held in his honour.

UPDATE: Jaeger has much more on the Annan visit here (Ctrl+F "Kofi comes to Ottawa")

Posted by Debbye at 02:40 PM | Comments (0)

March 03, 2004

UN Chastises Canada

Mar. 3 - UN rips addict haven in B.C.. The UN is calling Canada to account for allowing a safe injection site in Vancouver for claiming the haven is contrary to international agreements to control drug abuse.

I wish the UN would focus on things like child slavery than how Canada choses to try and deal with the difficult problem of drug addiction.

Motes. Beams. Grr.

Posted by Debbye at 04:07 PM | Comments (0)

February 27, 2004


Feb. 27 - France calls for Aristide to quit. Opposition leaders in Haiti have made it clear that Artistede's removal is the only condition under which they will negotiate a settlement.

France had already called for the international community to assemble a force to restore order and urged Aristide consider stepping down.


The Security Council later adopted a statement expressing its deep concern in regard to the deterioration of the political, security and humanitarian environment in Haiti.

So if the international community is unwilling to form a force, will France? They interceded in Ivory Coast, another former French colony, when conditions there deteriorated.

Canada's PM, Paul Martin, has vowed to help Haiti, but Defence Minister David Pratt says that additional military units are unavailable for deployment anywhere. Canadian forces in Haiti have begun evacuating Canadian nationals from the island and are standing by to evacuate more if necessary.

One possibility to peacemaking in Haiti would be the Solomon Islands approach: the neighbouring countries could assemble a force to intervene.

I'm glad the president is keeping the US out of this. It has been entirely too easy for the international community to talk about the need for action but to mean that they expect us to do the hard work. If there really is an international community, let them demonstrate it by their deeds. Thus far the UN has indicated that it won't authorize a peacekeeping force until a political settlement has been reached by the contending parties.

Posted by Debbye at 08:08 AM | Comments (0)

February 26, 2004

Oil Vouchers

Feb. 26 - I have been engrossed in the following MEMRI document Inquiry and Analysis Series - No. 164 - The Saddam Oil Vouchers Affair (courtesy of reader Sandy) during my few breaks these past couple of days.

Although MEMRI doesn't pass judgement as to the veracity of the report published in al-Mada, they seem to be taking the accusations very seriously and include in their report the reactions of those named as taking bribes, those who have refused comment, and what the countries of those charged with accepting the bribes are planning to do.

Another significant fact is that the list was originally in the possession of the State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO) and the Iraqi Ministry of Petroleum is collecting information with the intent of submitting it to Interpol who can investigate the affair further.

The MEMRI document details how Al-Mada stated that the oil voucher program worked:

In general, the vouchers were given either as gifts or as payment for goods imported into Iraq in violation of the U.N. sanctions. The voucher holder would normally tender the voucher to any one of the specialized companies operating in the United Arab Emirates for a commission which initially ranged from $0.25 to $0.30 per barrel, though it may have declined in later years to as little as $0.10 or even $0.05 per barrel because of oil surplus on the market. [7] In other words, a voucher for 1 million barrels would have translated into a quick profit of $250,000-300,000 on the high side and $50,000-100,000 on the low side – all paid in cash. According to Al-Mada, Jordan will seek to tax the illicit profits of citizens who benefited from the sale of the vouchers.

One of the common arguments by recipients of vouchers was that the vouchers paid for goods provided in the framework of the U.N.-administered Oil for Food program. However, under the Memorandum of Understanding governing the program, oil allocations were intended for "end users," meaning those with refineries. Most of the voucher recipients would be considered "non-end users." Moreover, if vouchers were used to pay for goods, it would suggest that these were not authorized by the program and should be considered illicit since all contracts approved by the U.N. were reimbursed from the trust account where the oil revenues were kept, at a French bank, at Iraq's insistence. According to the United Nations: "The oil buyer had to pay the price approved by the Security Council Sanctions Committee into a U.N. escrow account, and the U.N. had to verify that the goods purchased by Iraq were indeed those allowed under the program. But the U.N. had no way of knowing what other transactions might be going on directly between the Iraqi government and the buyers and sellers." [8]

The real eye opener, however, lies in the list of recipients in the Oil Vouchers Program and the large number of Russians implicated in the affair, 46, compared to France, which had 11.

There are 14 recipients listed from Jordan, and as was noted in the above, al-Mada says that the Jordanian government has announced its intention of taxing the illicit profits of citizens who benefited from the sale of the vouchers. They, at least, seem to believe the allegations.

The document also cites the reactions of the other governments which, predictably vary from silence to explanations to intentions to investigate.

The Arab media has not paid too much attention to the list perhaps because prominent names are on the list and freedom of the press in the Mid-East is not guaranteed, although the Lebanese, Jordanian and Iraqi press have published the list.

Shortly after the fall of Baghdad, rumours were circulating around the blogs about bribes to Arabic news agencies, particularly al Jazeera which many of us noted but, as many of these rumours were unattributed, couldn't give much weight to.

The reaction of one person, however, contains echoes of the allegations made nearly a year ago. Mazen Hammad wrote an op-ed for the Qatari daily Al-Watanunder titled "Publish the Names, May Allah Have Mercy on You!" in which he charged:

"The scandal is growing because it is no secret that hundreds of apartments, Mercedes automobiles, cash and various grants were distributed by Saddam's aides to ministers, under secretaries, journalists, writers and artists.
Obviously I recommend you read the whole thing.

I suspect that people will be inclined to believe or disbelieve the allegations according to their own bias, but if Interpol does investigate will that settle the question?

Posted by Debbye at 07:33 PM | Comments (0)

February 21, 2004

Malaysian connection to Dr. Khan

Feb. 21 - A report prepared by IAEA Director General Mohamed El Baradei for presentation to a board of directors meeting next month is to reveal that Libya made plutonium, according to diplomats (no names are given in the report.)

Libya's success in enriching uranium means that its weapons program was much more advanced than the IAEA had originally believed.

The man who was suspected of being the negotiator and representative for Abdul Oadeer Khan, the Pakistani scientist who sold nuclear technology on the black market to countries as Libya and Iran, is Malaysian resident Buhary Syed Abu Tahir and he admitted Friday that he was the middleman in many transactions on behalf of Khan in his black market network.

According to a statemen issued by Malaysian police, in 1995

"[Khan] had asked B.S.A. Tahir to send two containers of used centrifuge units from Pakistan to Iran," the statement by Malaysian police said.

"B.S.A. Tahir organized the transshipment of the two containers from Dubai to Iran using a merchant ship owned by a company in Iran."

Posted by Debbye at 02:13 AM | Comments (0)

February 17, 2004

Oil Vouchers

Feb. 17 - This is interesting: remember sometime last April when someone in the British Parliament said that PM Tony Blair was "being unduly influenced by a cabal of Jewish advisers"? I had since forgotten the person's name, but it was Father of the House Tam Dalyell, and his name has come up again in documents that have recently surfaced which allege that illicit funds from the Oil for Food program were used to finance anti-sanctions campaigns:

Undercover cash from oil deals went to three businessmen who in turn supported pressure groups involving the ex-Labour MP George Galloway, Labour MP Tam Dalyell, and the former Irish premier Albert Reynolds, it is alleged in documents compiled by the oil ministry, which is now under the control of the US occupation regime.
There's much more, so hop over to the post at Protocols (if blogspotted, run find and "Anti-Semite Was A Saddamist")

I wonder how more willing people would be to believe these documents had Halliburton executives appeared among the names?

(Via Instapundit.)

Posted by Debbye at 08:23 PM | Comments (0)

U.N. vs. the Jews

Feb. 17 - A sobering post over at Daimnation! is another good example of the moral bankruptcy of the UN and it's inability to actually implement the principles to which it claims to be committed. The UN vs. the Jews isn't new news but part of the ongoing critical failure of the UN to be credible.

Sometimes I think the UN really believes it is a government: it prefers to protect popular and well-monied causes rather than actually uphold the rights of people who are actively targeted for genocide (which is only one of the most damning among a large number of failures to prevent genocide.)

Damien's post does force me to re-think my determintion to see the UN relocated in Canada, although I did enjoy the panicked scurrying for cover when MP Dennis Mills also brought it up.

Posted by Debbye at 02:11 PM | Comments (0)

February 16, 2004

U.N. Oil for Food scandal

Feb. 16 - Roger L. Simon has been unrelenting in his insistence that the books of the UN sponsored Oil for Food program be opened for inspection and, despite mounting evidence and accusations of corruption, the UN has refused to do so.

I know why this issue is a burr under my saddle. For one thing, there's a small matter of national pride. For years, the US and UK were accused of complicity in the deaths of thousands of Iraqi babies. Osama bin Laden used this very accusation to justify the war al Qaeda has waged against the USA. Millions of people globally believed it.

The fact that this charge has been proven to be bogus has not (surprise!) elicited any apologies from those who focused much of their agitation and propaganda on this very point. The best reactions seemed to be much along the lines of well, even if you're not guilty of this you are guilty of other things.

Do mention that in any respectable court of law, guys, even as you utter your insistence of words like alleged.

But my anger is even more personal: I actually fell for that crap.

It gets worse. I opposed the '91 Gulf War. I marched in an anti-war march here in Toronto that winter and my sign read "This American says give sanctions a chance." I guess I was already working my way out of leftism, though, because once the war began, I prayed for a quick end but was outraged that we didn't finish the job. I regarded Saddam's brutal crackdown on the Shiite revolt as a crime in which the US was guilty by omission.

No, I'm not throwing any rocks at GHB. I've studied history too long and too thoroughly to dwell on might have beens. What actually happened in history is instructive; what might have happened is the stuff of fiction but not serious analysis.

I recognized early after Sept. 11 that the situation and the human cost from the sanctions in Iraq had to end, which is why I then advocated dealing with Saddam by any means necessary. (The unexpected consequence is that more than 2 years later, my family thinks I'm a freaking genius, but I digress.)

Anyway, if any of you wonder why I keep harping on this issue, that's the reason. It also is why I am so implacably angry at the UN.

This trip down memory lane has been brought to you courtesey of a recent thread over at Tim Blair's wherein a lot of people 'fessed up about their previous lefty sympathies. There are a lot of us out there.

Back to the UN Oil for Food scandel, Roger provides two links in his post on the scandel Oil Spills that raise yet more questions about the program and connect some dots.

The article over at Tech Central Station Oil for Fools looks very closely at the Russian as well as global connections that are accused. Those who would deny any wrong-doing have to face one unassailabile fact:

Third, persistent rumors are worth checking. Stories about Saddam's global payola have been in circulation for years, with nobody investigating.

Similar stories are in circulation about Saudi and Chinese influence-buying. It is high time the law enforcement and intelligence agencies in the U.S. and Europe cooperated in investigating. (Emphasis added)

No Canadian is today in a position to disagree that the failure to investigate is, at this state, of criminal proportions.

The other link Roger provides is to the Radio Free Europe article (categorized under the Organized Crime and Terrorism Watch) Did Saddam Hussein buy support in Russia and the West? (Part 1) which answers a question that has been on my mind, namely how UNSC member Syria and the illegal pipeline that ran from Iraq to Syria might have factored in:

According to the Middle East Media Research Institute's (MEMRI) "Inquiry and Analysis Series, No. 160," of 29 January (http://www.memri.org/bin/opener_latest.cgi?ID=IA16004): "The voucher recipients sold the vouchers to oil traders, who then collected the oil against the vouchers from the Kirkuk-Banias (Syria) pipeline terminal, which was operating in contravention of the Security Council sanctions."

However, it seems feasible that some of these coupons were distributed to friends of the regime who then sold the oil and deposited most of the money into offshore accounts owned or controlled by Hussein or members of his inner circle. A portion of those vast sums might have been kept by recipients as "handling fees."

I recognize that some people reading this have already dismissed the claims, but I ask you: given that you have been lied to repeatedly by those who opposed the war in Iraq, what do you have to lose by considering the possibility that these assertions might be true?

One of the biggest demands among the left used to be "open the books." It remains a good demand. Should public and government funds should be subject to transparent accountability? The tax dollars of billions of people globally are what fund the UN (leaving aside the 2.2% commission that UN charged for administering the Oil for Food project) so I do believe the UN is accountable for how the money is spent.

Unfortunately, it would appear that Kofi Annan, like Adrienne Clarkson, considers himself "above politics" and doesn't it believe it necessary to answer questions as to how millions (billions, in Annan's case) of dollars have been spent.

Considering that the Prime Minister of Canada, Paul Martin, recently proclaimed that Canada's future lies with the United Nations, the fact that both the UN and Canada are embroiled in massive corruption scandels should be at least pause-worthy.

UPDATE: Jay Currie is also calling for an independent audit.

Posted by Debbye at 05:31 PM | Comments (0)

January 30, 2004

Saddam's Oil Voucher Gifts

Jan. 30 - Stephen Green posts and has begun googling the Roll Call of Saddam's alleged pay roll from the list on the ABC news website (Saddam's Gifts.)

(To answer an earlier question, ABC states the list is composed of people who bought oil at a discounted price and then resold it to legitimate brokers or oil companies.)

What's important to me, not surprisingly, are the background of the 2 Americans on the list, so seeing the one googlable (ha!) name, Samir Vincent, was someone who has worked to get the sanctions lifted wasn't a surprise, but seeing his connection to Empower America was the last thing I would have expected.

This is the list provided by ABC:

The Companies of the Russian Communist Party: 137 million
The Companies of the Liberal Democratic Party: 79.8 million
The Russian Committee for Solidarity with Iraq: 6.5 million and 12.5 million (2 separate contracts)
Head of the Russian Presidential Cabinet: 90 million
The Russian Orthodox Church: 5 million

Charles Pasqua, former minister of interior: 12 million
Trafigura (Patrick Maugein), businessman: 25 million
Ibex: 47.2 million
Bernard Merimee, former French ambassador to the United Nations: 3 million
Michel Grimard, founder of the French-Iraqi Export Club: 17.1 million

Firas Mostafa Tlass, son of Syria's defense minister: 6 million

Zeynel Abidin Erdem: more than 27 million
Lotfy Doghan: more than 11 million

Megawati Sukarnoputri: 11 million

Ali Ballout, Lebanese journalist: 8.8 million

The Socialist Party: 22 million
Kostunica's Party: 6 million

Arthur Millholland, president and CEO of Oilexco: 9.5 million

Father Benjamin, a French Catholic priest who arranged a meeting between the pope and Tariq Aziz: 4.5 million
Roberto Frimigoni: 24.5 million

United States
Samir Vincent: 7 million
Shakir Alkhalaji: 10.5 million

United Kingdom
George Galloway, member of Parliament: 19 million
Mujaheddin Khalq: 36.5 million

South Africa
Tokyo Saxwale: 4 million

Shaker bin Zaid: 6.5 million
The Jordanian Ministry of Energy: 5 million
Fawaz Zureikat: 6 million
Toujan Al Faisal, former member of Parliament: 3 million

The son of President Lahoud: 5.5 million

Khaled Abdel Nasser: 16.5 million
Emad Al Galda, businessman and Parliament member: 14 million

Palestinian Territories
The Palestinian Liberation Organization: 4 million
Abu Al Abbas: 11.5 million

Hamad bin Ali Al Thany: 14 million

Prime Minister Shukri Ghanem: 1 million

Foreign minister of Chad: 3 million

The October 8th Movement: 4.5 million

Myanmar (Burma)
The minister of the Forests of Myanmar: 5 million

The Social Democratic Party: 8.5 million
The Communist Party: 6 million
The Socialist Party: 2 million
The FTD oil company: 2 million

Does anyone else find this list depressing? There's always a part of me that wants to be wrong about how cynically corrupt some of these yahoos are.

(Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: JunkYard Dog analyzes the ABC report and comes up with confirmation and more informtion about how the pay-offs worked.

UPDATE: M'kay, the Washington Times might be overstating here (charge of corruption against Chirac) but whatever will they say about this: Ex-French PM Alain Juppe guilty of corruption and more indepth from the NY Times here. Mitterand, d'Estaing . . . I guess it's that law that forbids charges being levied while the official is in office that proves how enlightened the Europeans are compared to us rubes.

Posted by Debbye at 12:50 PM | Comments (0)

January 28, 2004

Canadian named as recipient of oil vouchers

Jan. 28 - According to a story in today's Globe and Mail, a Canadian businessman was named as one of those who received free oil for backing Saddam. Arthur Millholland, president of Calgary-based Oilexco Inc., is said to have received one million barrels of oil.

The allegations of bribery were published in an Iraqi newspaper, Al-Mada, which cited documents obtained from the former State Oil Organisation, or Somo, which the Daily Telegraph (UK) describes as the commercial arm of Saddam's oil ministry.

The Daily Telegraph article focuses on the international nature of the scandal

Saddam Hussein bribed his way around the world, buying the support of presidents, ministers, legislators, political parties and even Christian churches, according to documents published in Iraq.

The list of those who allegedly benefited from Saddam's largesse spans 46 countries.

According to the newspaper al-Mada, one of the new publications that have emerged since the removal of the dictator, Saddam offered each of his friends lucrative contracts to trade in millions of barrels of Iraqi crude under the United Nations oil-for-food programme.

The 270 individuals and organisations alleged to be in his pay included the sons of a serving Arab president, Arab ministers, a prominent Indonesian leader, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, the party led by the Russian nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky and even the Russian Orthodox Church.

There's more, so read the whole thing.

Will this latest allegation force the UN to open the books of the Oil for Food program?

Roger L. Simon has been in the forefront of those urging the books be opened. He posts on this latest development, Naming Names, and also links to Merde in France which in turn links to the Le Monde article about the French connection, so those with working French might want to check it out.

Tim Blair links to the complete list and the translation of the complete list. No Australians have been named but some Austrians (which might explain why initial reports were conflicting) but George Galloway's name appears several times.

One cautionary reminder: we've been down this road of documents recovered in Baghdad provide evidence of corruption and perfidy only to see it fizzle when the documents turned out to be forgeries, so handsprings and whoops of joy are postponed until confirmation.

But, as Capt. Sheridan said, You can't kill the truth. (And yes, I know what his follow-up was, but work with me here, okay?)

UPDATE: Enter Stage Right has more, including a good memory back to an earlier rumour about Swiss bank accounts. Maybe the deal wasn't for actual oil after all, but for the proceeds of undocumented oil sales.

Posted by Debbye at 04:53 PM | Comments (0)

January 23, 2004

Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire testifies in Rwanda genocide trial

Jan. 23 - Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire continued to testify yesterday in the trial of those held responsible for the genocidal massacre of Tutsis in Rwanda and said that World leaders allowed genocide to happen citing the limited UN mandate, small number of troops, failure of Belgium to share intelligence, and indifference by world leaders, specifically mentioning France, Belguim and the U.S.

The Belgian withdrawal from Rwanda following the deaths of 10 of their soldiers caused Somalia Syndrome to come to mind (ref. the Weekly Standard piece Showstoppers) and the inability of the UN to be effective wherever there is a conflict. Sure, it'll go in as soon as all danger has passed, but that's hardly comforting to the dead. Do I even need to mention the Congo and East Timor?

So this item in today's paper about Kofi Annan's acceptance of an invitation to address the Canadian Parliament is both troubling and laughable:

Martin, who met Annan privately at the World Economic Forum in this Swiss Alps resort on Friday, said the invitation to Annan was the first he has made to a world leader because he wanted to underline the importance of the United Nations at a crossroads in its history.

"If the United Nations doesn't work, we are severely hobbled," he told a news conference.

Pardon? If the UN doesn't work? There are two criminal trials going on right now about massacres that happened because the UN doesn't work. Mass graves continue to be uncovered in Iraq because the UN failed to act. The situation in East Timor is fragile because the UN is too timid to engage in food distribution because, well, they're timid.
Martin said in a world where superpowers like China and India are emerging to rival the economic might of the United States, the United Nations will be critical over the next decade in trying to determine how the world is governed.
Now the UN is going to have a role in how the world is governed? Why? By what authority? So a bureaucratic organization in which the majority of countries are not run democratically and are outright kleptocracies will be telling democratic countries what to do?
By inviting Annan to speak to MPs and senators, Martin wants to express the role that Canada can play in achieving change at the United Nations.

"Canada has a very important role to play in the world, it is a proactive role and it is a role that carries a wide number of areas," he said, citing the AIDS crisis in Africa and establishing the rule of law in failed states as examples of areas where Canada has made a difference.

Do the experiences of Maj. Gen. Lewis MacKenzie in Bosnia and Ltd. Gen. Romeo Dallaire in Rwanda count for nothing? Both men were in charge of peacekeeping missions which in essence failed because the UN refused to be proactive and Canada didn't back up its soldiers. The sick part is that the bobble-heads that will be happy because the right words were invoked even though everyone knows they are empty (the words, I mean, not the bobble-heads. No, make that both. What good is a rant without hyperbole?)

Let me get this straight. The Canadian military has been so decimated by cuts that it cannot provide a force even to clear snow in Toronto, but Canada thinks it has an important role in shaping how the world is to be run. Because that's what the world really needs, you know, more impotent nations sitting on the sidelines and criticizing those who do act.

You can't talk the talk with credibility unless you can walk the walk with action, and that means taking risks and standing up for something. Canada chose to sit out Iraq because it wasn't sanctioned by the UN. Fair enough. But an important sub-text in the controversy of the US going into Iraq without UN approval was that the US is expected to be the peacemaker of the world when member nations of the UN are too feckless and cowardly to act - and too freaking cheap to support their own armies.

Well thanks but no thanks. Put your money where your mouths are - literally.

Consider: PM Martin is attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where Iranian President Mohammed Katami happens to be.

Please tell me the investigation into the death of Zahra Kazemi has been discussed. Canada has an important role to play in that particular situation as well, PM Martin, and the prior investigation helped expose the growing split between the Council of Guardians and the elected government. Can we say "Golden opportunity? Proactive role to play in the world?" Sigh.

OT UPDATE: Jay Nordlinger has some interesting comments about both Clinton and Khatami at the World Economic Conference.

UPDATE: And the online headline of the Toronto Star is Canada's Future Tied to UN, PM Says.

DAVOS, Switzerland - The prosperity of Canadians is tied to the rejuvenation of international organizations, especially the United Nations, as the world faces a critical decade that will redefine global relations, Prime Minister Paul Martin said today.
And, become I'm a bitca:
In his speech to a room that was less than half full, Martin said business leaders must get on board with UN efforts to improve both the economies and the social conditions of the world's poorest countries.

Posted by Debbye at 09:53 AM | Comments (2)

January 20, 2004

Dallaire testifies

Jan. 20 - The testimony of Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire at the trials of 4 officers accused of orchestrating genocide during the Rwandan massacres of 1994 for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda is grim and horrifying in its starkness.

Read both articles.

Posted by Debbye at 12:30 PM | Comments (0)

January 19, 2004

Maj. Gen. Lewis MacKenzie on History Channel

Jan. 19 - Did anyone else watch Timelines: Century of Conflict last Saturday on the (Canadian) History channel? We saw it by accident, as Mark was channel surfing, and paused when I asked "is that Maj. Gen. Lewis MacKenzie?" Both MacKenzie and the program were outstanding and much of what was said goes to the heart of the debate over the viability of the U.N. (especially when they send peacekeepers into zones - Bosnia, Rwanda - that are determined to continue warmaking as well as the political and military failure in Somalia.)

In today's news is an announcement that Lt.-Gen. Romeo Dallaire will testify today in the trial of 4 Rwandan army officers who are said to have "masterminded" the slaughter in Rwanda:

Several months before the mass killings began, Dallaire had warned the UN about escalating hostilities and had sought to raid a Hutu militia arms cache. He was overruled by UN headquarters in New York.
500,000 people are estimated to have been butchered in Rwanda in 1994.

UPDATE: As Paul points out in the comments, Dallaire himself believes that the true figure of the massacre was likely 800,000 people, and it was done without guns. I should also like to point out that machetes were the weapon of choice in last year's massacres in the Congo.

Posted by Debbye at 10:48 AM | Comments (0)

January 01, 2004

Syria entry for Russian arms into Iraq

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.

- 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.

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.

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?

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.

(LA Times link via Instapundit, American Thinker link via Roger L. Simon.)

UPDATE: The Globe and Mail here reports on the Canadian connection.

Posted by Debbye at 05:12 PM | Comments (0)

December 16, 2003

Quote of the Day

Dec. 16 - Quote of the day from Spinkiller

There must be a common denominator of international law to peacefully co-exist. But isn't that the role of the United Nations? Sorry, but that is like asking your guidance councilor to stop a home invasion.
Great essay!

Posted by Debbye at 10:21 PM | Comments (0)

December 08, 2003

U.N. control of the internet rejected

Dec. 8 - U.N. control of Web rejected:

GENEVA -- The United States, backed by the European Union, Japan and Canada, has turned back a bid by developing nations to place the Internet under the control of the United Nations or its member governments.

But governments, the private sector and others will be asked to establish a mechanism under U.N. auspices to study the governance of the Internet and make recommendations by 2005.
No, no, no! No governance. Nobody is going to tell me what I can see on the internet: not the UN, the US, or my next-door neighbour. Sheesh.

Okay, it's been a long day at work. But anything the people at the UN can do, my cat can do better. Even double-park.

Posted by Debbye at 06:29 PM | Comments (0)

November 13, 2003

Iran and the IAEA inspectors

Sept. 13 - Seems like you just can't please some folks. Even after highly-respected retired weapons inspector Hans Blix gave Iran his usual "I don't see nuthin' suspicious" free pass, it seems Iran is warning the UN that an international crisis will occur if the IAEA refers the issue of Iran's nuclear program to the United Nations Security Council.

It seems Iran is not happy at the possibility of having sanctions imposed for non-compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

I don't know why it would bother them. It isn't as though others (cough*Saddam*cough) didn't find French, Russian, and German companies willing to do business and violate sanctions with enthusiasm.

And heavens knows the French and German economies need the boost.

Yeah, I hold a grudge. I hold certain grudges a long, long time, particularly when the US is likely to be demonized for whatever suffering may occur to Iranians because of sanctions even as certain countries and the UN reap mega-profits from the imaginative bookeeping that could occur.

We can save on letterhead expenses by calling it Oil-For-Palaces, The Sequel. Maybe I should send the Khatami government TotalFinaElf's telephone number, you know, just in case.

Who me, bitter?

Posted by Debbye at 12:56 PM | Comments (0)

September 19, 2003

Americans wake up

Sept. 19 - Americans are beginning to wake up. Far too many of us have accepted the judgement that, unlike other nations, the USA alone pursues policies that are advantageous to her and her people.

Americans are beginning to realize that, although we and our governments are far from perfect, we are certainly not alone in the pursuit of self-interest but may be unique in that we are not only aware of our shortcomings but even discuss them publicly.

We've gone from accepting the scolding of imaginary "international community" and have begun to see the UN for what it is: a bureaucratic organization where the majority of the members don't even pretend to respect human rights yet think they have moral authority to lecture and dictate to us.

This is an organization in which Libya can chair -- without intentional irony -- the UN Human Rights Committee and that committee can strip Reporters Without Borders of observer status because they held a peaceful demonstration which protested the naming of Libya as chair of that committee.

Further, the UN found itself unable to rise to the challenge Saddam posed as expressed in Pres. Bush's speech to the UN in September, 2002, that it assert its mandate and finally confront Saddam:

Are Security Council resolutions to be honored and enforced or cast aside without consequence?

Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding or will it be irrelevant?

The French have probably done the most to erode American idealism about the UN. Their threats of exercising their veto not only over pre- and post-war Iraq but also to removing the sanctions on Libya over the Lockerbie bombing unless they received additional money from Libya above their previous settlement for a different bombing raised even more questions about the actual purpose as well as integrity of the UN.

Thanks to The Canukistanian for sending me this WSJ Opinion Journal link Do You Feel Lucky, Paris? by Daniel Henninger.

A recent Gallup poll confirms some of the changes that many of us hoped for: Sept. 11 finally got a lot of Americans to wake up and look a bit closer at the true state of the world, and they have drawn their conclusions. (Follow the link for the statistics; the UN's approval rating has dropped significantly.)

A few excerpts from the Opinion Journal article:

Shortly after the [Iraq] war was over, a high official from France's Parliament visited our offices hoping to let bygones be bygones. He said we were all joined in the war on terror and that our countries' long-term interests coincided. He was visiting American editorial boards and going to Washington to see key members of Congress in the belief that if he could convince these influential people--the U.S. networking equivalent of les grandes ecoles--Franco-American relations would revive.

Whereupon he was told: "Sir, there is really not much that we or the members of Congress can do for you. France's problems now are not with America's policy makers but with America's comedians." [Their emphasis]

Nope, no gag order for Jay Leno. And one has to wonder what on earth the French thought their strategy would accomplish except to provide more material for the comedians.

One result of the list the French circulated purporting to prove that they were being slandered was for journalists to point out those articles (usually by themselves) which had been left off and to write even more in hopes of being included on that list. This was a fairly predictable reaction, but I have to wonder: do the French really understand so little about us?

And then there's this:

Well before Iraq, one of the elite criticisms of the U.S., heard mostly in Europe and in the American academy, has been that the U.S. is compulsively trying to "impose its values" on the rest of the world. . . But from Germany and Japan after World War II and on up to Kosovo, Afghanistan and now Iraq, I am aware of only one "value" America has tried to impose and it's not Mickey Mouse. It is democracy, or at a minimum, liberty.
The one place the US maintained troops against the wishes of the people is South Korea, or at least they objected until we actually began to withdraw. Go figure.

But one thing is clear: Americans are seeing the UN and its institutions as if for the first time, and they are shaking off an undeserved legacy of shame and humiliation. We have chosen the option to continue to work to improve ourselves and our country and yes, even the world, but it will be about the things we care about and in the ways we think will work. That is not going to include enriching the coffers of the renowned tyrants and butchers. Those days are over.

We are also seeing Europe differently and now realize that, contrary to their belief, Belguim and France do not speak for all of Europe. There's some new kids in town, and they are not only newer but stronger in their support of democratic institutions and human rights because they had been deprived of them for so long.

(I'm not going to explain the Dirty Harry reference in the title; read the entire article.)

I think the knock-out punch to the UN could come if a free Iraq were to demand an accounting from those who ran the UN Oil-For-Food program and and an explanation not only for the palace trappings but for the weapons and military equipment that the Russians, French, Chinese and, to a lesser degree, Germany imported as food and medicine. And, less we forget, Kofi Annan signed off on all the invoices in the program.

The UN Security Council lost more credibility when Def. Secy. Rumsfeld confirmed that US military forces had turned off the pipeline that was shipping Iraqi oil illegally to UNSC member Syria. By the way, does Syria occupy Lebanon with UN approval? Of course not. Does the UN care? Riiiight.

Information about the workings of the UN, which had never exactly been concealed, is beginning to achieve a prominence that should make wiser UN members a bit nervous. It may take awhile, but the US electorate does have the power to turn off the money taps to the UN which would pretty much spell the end of that institution because the other members are unwilling to support it financially. Even the prospect of moving it to Toronto was dropped when Toronto Mayor Lastman pointed out that it should be done only if the Canadian government was willing to underwrite all expenses.

TotalFinaElf, the Oil-For-Food program with UN oversight (and a 2.2% commission for the UN for that oversight), pre-war sweetheart contracts with Saddam on untapped oil fields by France, Russia and China, and failure to take action that would have forced Saddam to comply with UN resolutions seem to point to some pretty damning complicity, but the Bush administration has not exploited that information yet (although the information has appeared in both the NY Times (linked above) and Canada's Financial Post in a column by Diane Francis (FP link is dead.)

Canada's credibility has been damaged by its connection to the oil company TotalFinaElf. A sizeable oil exploration contract with Iraq was obtained when Saddam was in power by TotalFinaElf, and the majority shareholder in that company is Montreal's Paul Desmarais, whose youngest son, Andre, is married to Chretien's daughter, France. Desmarais has connections to Paul Martin, former Mulroney cabinet ministers and even former Ontario premier and NDP leader Bob Rae. And Chretien's nephew Raymond is Canada's ambassador to France. (Canadians might be very surprised if they read the linked article about Mr. Desmarais and his associates.)

You see, it wasn't the war in Iraq that was "all about oil", it was the opposition to the war that was about oil. Coming to terms with that is going to further lessen the influence of the UN on the United States.

Posted by Debbye at 07:19 PM | Comments (2)

September 10, 2003

Gallop Poll on UN, French on Libya

Sept. 10 -- According to a USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll, U.S. view of U.N. largely negative. Of course, the only thing the UN will be interested in is this:

The dissatisfaction has not led most Americans to want to cut congressional support for the institution: 37% said U.N. funding should be decreased, 50% said it should stay the same and 11% said it should be increased.
But they might want to remember that figure was obtained after the Canal Hotel attack (which would have stimulated sympathy and even hopes that the UN might begin to realize that they too are hated) but before State Secy. Powell sought a new UN resolution and the President's address Sunday evening which restated the challenge to the UN to become more relevant.

There is a solution: the US can refuse to pay for the renovations of the UN building, have NYC condemn the building, and evict the UN.

In other news at the UN front, France is still threatening to veto a proposal to life sanctions on Libya unless they get more money. They are unwilling to accept the consequences of accepting a separate agreement with Libya.

Before the delay was announced, Britain had dared the French to do their worst by promising to put the resolution to a vote. A French veto would scupper a carefully worked out £1.7 billion compensation package for the relatives of 270 people, including 55 Britons, who died when Libyan agents bombed Pan Am Flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988.

The stalemate risked escalating into one of the most damaging disputes to plague UN diplomacy in months.

Angry relatives of those killed in the Lockerbie bombing later denounced France's tactics, complaining after a meeting with Jean-Marc de la Sabliere, the French ambassador, that they were being exploited as "hostages".

"We are being used by the French as a lever to extort more money out of the Libyans," said Bob Monetti, who lost his 20-year-old son, Rick, on the Pan Am flight.

There is probably a lofty, transnationalist principle involved, but the French haven't articulated it yet. Or maybe it's just greed.

(USA Today article via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 09:49 AM | Comments (0)

September 02, 2003

Ottawa requests UNHRC to take up Kazemi case

Sept. 2 -- The investigation into the death of Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi is to be reopened as Charges have been dropped in Kazemi file against the two interogators because the inditements were incomplete.

Meanwhile, Ottawa has asked the UN Human Rights Commission to take up the Kazemi case.
It's nice to know that that the UNHRC, chaired by LIBYA, and which voted to deny consultative status to Reporters Without Borders, will be on the case.

Posted by Debbye at 12:45 PM | Comments (0)

August 20, 2003

Hapless and Screeching Bill Graham

Aug. 20 - Too bad for Foreign Affairs Min. Bill Graham that I read this after I was braced by Bill Whittle's glorious essay on Responsibility, so if you like the Minister, be prepared for some insultin'.

Both he and PM Chretien react to the bombing of the UN offices in Baghdad in ways that make me (temporarily) despair for this wonderful country:

Prime Minister Jean Chretien, speaking at a Liberal caucus meeting in North Bay, expressed condolences to Klein-Beekman's family and called it "absolutely unbelievable" that anyone would attack a UN office.

"These people are there to maintain peace and help people to build back their society ... It's so incredible that you're attacking the UN," he said. "The UN has only one mission -- to bring about peace, settle disputes, bring people together."

Yes, and the Canadian army wants to go only to places were it can spread peace and happiness. And everyone loves the UN - not. Has he forgotten that al Qaeda was stopped from bombing the UN HQ in NYC in the mid-90's?

The UN and its's peacekeepers have certainly not been safe as reported here, and although this may be the first time a successful attacks against a UN office was hit, it was mere months ago that 2 peacekeepers were killed in the Congo which prompted Canada, among other nations, to bolster the mission there.

The money quotes, though, were uttered by Bill Graham:

Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham also found it troubling that the UN had been targeted by Iraqi dissidents.
More troubling than charges that the Saudis tortured Bill Sampson, and the Syrians are torturing Maher Arar? What about the murder of Zahra Kazemi at the hands of the Iranian government?

Furthermore, why does he assume this was done by Iraqi dissidents? Most of us recognize al Qaeda, and even analysts are cautiously accepting the Flypaper theory, calling Iraq a magnet for terrorists who have poured in especially from Syria and Saudi Arabia.

"It's an indication, I think, of desperation on their behalf. I think it's an indication also that we in the world community have to be determined to rebuild Iraq as a free and democratic country where this won't happen." (Emphasis added.)
September 11 happened in a free and democratic country, idiot. In fact, the aim of terrorism is to have such events happen in free and democratic countries, or haven't you noticed that al Qaeda has focused on countries like Indonesia and East Timor which are trying to become free and democratic? And what about Israel, which alone of the countries in the Middle East is free and democratic?

Is everyone out there hoping and praying that the international news media organs don't carry these remarks?

Posted by Debbye at 10:18 AM | Comments (0)