Welcome to thebackpacker.com
create account login
U.N. Oil For Food Scandal Grows.
To add this thread as a favorites, you need to first login.
Strat, your gonna love this...
"The "Oil for Food" program that the United Nations started in 1996 to help the citizens of Iraq, is turning out to be the largest scandal in human history. Under the program, Iraq was allowed to sell oil for purchasing food and medical supplies for Iraqi people in general. The first major flag that comes up is the fact the U.N. Secretary General, Kofi Annan, appointed a Swiss company that his son was a consultant at, a contract to review what was shipped to Iraq. No one brought up this huge conflict of interest. The Oil for Food program became a cash cow for the U.N. who received 2.2% commission on every barrel of oil sold, which accounts for over $1 billion dollars in revenue. French and Russian companies were also profiting in the amounts of $3.7 billion and $7.3 billion respectively. No wonder these countries vetoed every decision to take Saddam out of power. George Bush should rename the "coalition of the willing", to the "coalition of the honest."
Rest of story
This is a good read...a very interesting site as well...everytime I think they lean to one side or the other they surprise me.”
“Someone better tell John Kerry.”
“I've been following this for some time now.
mtnsteve - the France lovers will hate you for this thread and it will soon drop from sight.”
“So the documents relating to the yellow cake uranium weren't forged, links to al Qa'ida have been established and the WMD have been found?
Has George been hooked up to a polygraph yet?
“The Oil-for-Food Scam: What Did Kofi Annan Know, and When Did He Know It?
For years, the United Nations Oil-for-Food program was just one more blip on the multilateral landscape: a relief program for Iraq, a way to feed hungry children in a far-off land until the world had settled its quarrels with Saddam Hussein. Last May, after the fall of Saddam, the UN Security Council voted to lift sanctions on Iraq, end Oil-for-Food later in the year, and turn over any remaining business to the U.S.-led authority in Baghdad. On November 20, with some ceremony, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan lauded the program’s many accomplishments, praising in particular its long-serving executive director, Benon Sevan. The next day, Oil-for-Food came to an end.
But it has not ended. Suddenly, Oil-for-Food is with us again, this time splashed all over the news as the subject of scandal at the UN: bribes, kickbacks, fraud, smuggling; stories of graft involving tens of billions of dollars and countless barrels of oil, and implicating big business and high officials in dozens of countries; allegations that the head of the program himself was on the take. In February, having at first denied any wrongdoing, Sevan stopped giving interviews and was then reported to be on vacation, heading into retirement. By March, the U.S. Congress was preparing to hold hearings into Oil-for-Food. Kofi Annan, having denied any knowledge of misdeeds by UN staff, finally bowed to demands for an independent inquiry into the UN program, saying, "I don’t think we need to have our reputation impugned."
The tale has been all very interesting, and all very complicated. For those who look yearningly to the UN for answers to the world’s problems, it has provoked, perhaps, some introspection about the pardonable corruption that threatens even the most selfless undertakings. For those who believe the UN can do nothing right, Oil-for-Food, whatever it was about, is a delicious vindication that everyone and everything at the world organization is crooked, the institution a fiasco, and politicians who support it fit for recall at the next electoral opportunity.
The excitement may be justified, but a number of important facts and conclusions have gone missing. Oil-for-Food, run by the UN from 1996 to 2003, did, in fact, deliver some limited relief to Iraqis. It also evolved into not only the biggest but the most extravagant, hypocritical, and blatantly perverse relief program ever administered by the UN. But Oil-for-Food is not simply a saga of one UN program gone wrong. It is also the tale of a systematic failure on the part of what is grandly called the international community.
Oil-for-Food tainted almost everything it touched. It was such a kaleidoscope of corruption as to defy easy summary, let alone concentration on the main issues. But let us try.
Oil-for-Food had its beginnings in the UN sanctions imposed on Iraq following Saddam Hussein’s August 1990 invasion of Kuwait. These prohibited UN member states from trading with Iraq until the regime had satisfactorily disarmed. Saddam refused to comply, and in the aftermath of the first Gulf war the sanctions remained in place. (Even under sanctions, Iraqis were theoretically allowed to import essential foods and medicines, but Saddam’s repressive system prevented them from earning the necessary foreign exchange.) Reports fed by Saddam’s regime soon began to surface that the sanctions were imposing severe suffering on ordinary Iraqis. The UN, then led by Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar, broached the idea of allowing Iraq to sell oil in limited quantities, strictly to buy relief supplies.
At first, Saddam resisted this, too. But in the mid-1990’s, perhaps because he was feeling the pinch, or quite likely because he had by then seen ways and built up the leverage to turn such a plan to his advantage, he finally agreed. On April 14, 1995, the UN (then under Boutros Boutros-Ghali) passed Resolution 986, authorizing as a "temporary measure" what become known as the Oil-for-Food program, and then spent months working out with Saddam the details of implementation.
From the start, the program was poorly designed. Saddam had blamed the fate of starving Iraqi children on the sanctions regime and specifically on the United States. Seeking to address these charges, the Clinton administration went looking for a compromise; with the Secretariat in the lead, the Security Council agreed to conditions on Oil-for-Food that were, to say the least, amenable to manipulation. Saddam, the author of the miseries of Iraq, was given the right to negotiate his own contracts to sell Iraqi oil and to choose his own foreign customers. He was also allowed to draw up the shopping lists of humanitarian supplies—the "distribution plans"—and to strike his own deals for these goods, picking his foreign suppliers. The UN also granted Saddam a say in the choice of the bank that would mainly handle the funds and issue the letters of credit to pay these suppliers; the designated institution was a French bank now known as BNP Paribas.1
To be sure, the UN reserved for itself the authority to reject Saddam’s proposed contracts and his plans for distribution of goods inside Iraq; to control the program’s bank accounts; and to ensure that Saddam’s buying and selling were in compliance with the UN’s humanitarian plan. As spelled out in Resolution 986, oil was to be sold "at fair-market value," and the proceeds were to pay solely for goods and services that would be used "for equitable distribution of humanitarian relief to all segments of the Iraqi population throughout the country."
To all this, the UN added another twist. Unlike most of its relief programs, in which both the cost of the relief itself and UN overhead were paid for by contributions from member states, Oil-for-Food would in every respect be funded entirely out of Saddam’s oil revenues. The UN Secretariat would collect a 2.2-percent commission on every barrel of Iraqi oil sold, plus 0.8 percent to pay for UN weapons inspections in Iraq.
If the aim of this provision was to make Saddam bear the cost of his own obstinacy, the effect was to create a situation in which the UN Secretariat was paid handsomely, on commission, by Saddam—to supervise Saddam. And the bigger Oil-for-Food got, the bigger the fees collected by Annan’s office. Over the seven years of the program, oil sales ultimately totaled some $65 billion. On the spending side, the UN says $46 billion went for aid to Iraq, and $18.2 billion was paid out as compensation to victims of Saddam’s 1990-91 occupation of Kuwait. As for commissions to the Secretariat, these ran to about $1.9 billion, of which $1.4 billion was earmarked for administrative overhead for the humanitarian program (the UN says it turned over $300 million of this to help pay for relief, but no public accounting has ever been given) and another $500 million or so for weapons inspections in Iraq. Discrepancies in these numbers can be chalked up to interest paid on some of the funds, exchange-rate fluctuations, or simply the murk in which most of the Oil-for-Food transactions remain shrouded to this day.
Whether Saddam should have enjoyed the right to dispose of all Iraqi oil was never questioned. In Iraq, oil was the province of a state monopoly, which Saddam in effect claimed for his own, and on that basis was the UN deal struck. The arrangement actually helped strengthen Saddam’s chokehold at home. With sanctions effectively forbidding all other foreign commerce, Iraq’s only legitimate trade was whatever flowed through Saddam’s ministries under the supervision of the UN program. Thus the UN gave to Saddam the entire import-export franchise for Iraq, taking upon itself the responsibility for ensuring that he would use this arrangement to help Iraq’s 26 million people. The success of the program depended wholly on the UN’s integrity, competence, and willingness to prevent Saddam from subverting the setup to his own benefit.
This was perhaps an impossible brief. But the Secretariat eagerly shouldered the burden, accepting along with it the commissions that flowed straight from Iraq’s oil spigots. Introduced as an ad-hoc deal, Oil-for-Food soon took on the marks of a more permanent arrangement. It was a project in which Annan had a direct hand from the beginning. As Under-Secretary General, he had led the first UN team to negotiate with Saddam over the terms of the sales under Oil-for-Food. The first shipment went out in December 1996; the following month, Annan succeeded Boutros-Ghali as Secretary-General.
Nine months later, in October 1997, Annan tapped Benon Sevan, an Armenian Cypriot and longtime UN official, to consolidate and run the various aspects of the Iraq relief operation under a newly established agency called the Office of the Iraq Program (but usually referred to simply as Oil-for-Food). Sevan served as executive director for the duration, reporting directly to Annan. The program was divided into roughly six-month phases; at the start of each phase, Sevan would report and Annan would recommend the program’s continuation to the Security Council, signing off directly on Saddam’s "distribution plans."
An issue that would later become important was how, precisely, the responsibilities for executing the program were parceled out between the Security Council—a committee of fifteen member states—and the Secretariat, run by Annan. All of Saddam’s proposed contracts flowed through the Security Council, which doubled as the Iraq "sanctions committee." But in practice, the fifteen member governments were mostly on the watch for so-called dual-use items: goods that might be used to make weapons.
As it turned out, only two of the five permanent, veto-wielding members appear to have done any overseeing at all. These were the UK and the U.S., both of which had almost no direct business with Saddam’s Iraq. The UN representatives of the other three—France, Russia, and China—devoted their energies chiefly to urging expansion of the program and forwarding the paperwork submitted by the many contractors in their respective nations whom Saddam had selected as his buyers and suppliers. As for the ten rotating members of the Security Council, some—like Syria—were among Saddam’s favored trading partners, while most of the others lacked the resources to keep track of the huge volume of business the program soon generated.
If final responsibility lay anywhere at all, it lay with the Secretariat. It was this body that fielded a substantial presence in Iraq (the U.S., apart from weapons inspectors ejected early on, had none), employing at the height of the program some 3,600 Iraqis plus 893 international staff working in Iraq for the nine UN agencies coordinated by the Oil-for-Food office; another 100 or so were employed back in New York. The Secretariat was the keeper of the contract records and the books, and controller of the bank accounts, with sole power to authorize the release of Saddam’s earnings to pay for imports to Iraq. The Secretariat arranged for audits of the program, was the chief interlocutor with Saddam, got paid well for its pains, and disseminated to the public extremely long reports in which most of the critical details of the transactions were not included.
One of the first changes introduced by Sevan was greater secrecy. According to John Fawcett, the co-author of a 70-page report on Saddam’s finances released in 2002 by the Washington-based Coalition for International Justice, the UN had been fairly open about the specifics of Saddam’s contracts during the first year of the program. From about 1998 on, however, it categorized the most germane details as "proprietary"—carefully guarding Saddam’s privacy in his business deals. Thus, there was no disclosure of such basic information as the names of individual contractors or the price, quality, or quantity of goods involved in any given deal—all vital to judging the integrity of contracts.
Instead, the Office of the Iraq Program released long lists representing billions of dollars in business but noting only the date, country of origin, whether or not the contract had been approved for release of funding, and highly generic descriptions of goods. Typical of the level of detail were notations like "electric motor" from France, "adult milk" from Saudi Arabia, "detergent" from Russia, "cable" from China. Who in particular might be profiting, or at what price, was kept confidential. Nor did the UN disclose interest paid on the Oil-for-Food accounts at BNP Paribas or (possibly) other banks, which toward the end of the program held balances of more than $12 billion. Nor did it ever share with the public the details of how the $1.9 billion in commissions flowing from Saddam for aid and arms inspections (the latter were discontinued from late 1998 to late 2002) were spent by the UN Secretariat.
The year 1998, the first full year of the program under Sevan’s directorship, is of special interest in this connection. For starters, if evidence cited in the Wall Street Journal turns out to be correct, this was the year in which Saddam’s government may have begun covertly sending gifts of oil to Sevan himself by way of a Panamanian firm. It was also the year in which the UN terminated a contract with a UK-based firm, Lloyd’s Register, for the crucial job of inspecting all Oil-for-Food shipments into Iraq, and replaced it with a Swiss-based firm, Cotecna Inspections, with ties to Kofi Annan’s son Kojo. At the time, neither Cotecna nor the UN declared these ties as a possible conflict of interest, which they were.2
Also in 1998, at Sevan’s urging, the UN expanded Oil-for-Food to allow Saddam to import not just food and medicine but oil-industry equipment, and at Annan’s urging more than doubled the amount of oil Iraq was allowed to sell, raising the cap from roughly $4 billion to more than $10 billion per year. That same year, after much hindering and dickering, Saddam threw out the UN weapons inspectors—forbidding their return until the U.S. and Britain finally forced the issue four years later.
This brings us to 1999-2000, when, following Sevan’s urging, the program expanded yet further; with more funds devoted to the oil sector, and with the weapons inspectors gone, the UN now removed the limits on sales. In 2000, Saddam enjoyed a blockbuster year. By this time he was not only selling vastly more oil but had institutionalized a system for pocketing cash on the side.
It worked like this. Saddam would sell at below-market prices to his hand-picked customers—the Russians and the French were special favorites—and they could then sell the oil to third parties at a fat profit. Part of this profit they would keep, part they would kick back to Saddam as a "surcharge," paid into bank accounts outside the UN program, in violation of UN sanctions.
By means of this scam, Saddam’s regime ultimately skimmed off for itself billions of dollars in proceeds that were supposed to have been spent on relief for the Iraqi people. When the scheme was reported in the international press—in November 2000, for example, Reuters carried a long dispatch about Saddam’s demands for a 50-cent premium over official UN prices on every barrel of Iraqi oil—the UN haggled with Saddam but did not stop it.
Beyond that, Saddam had also begun smuggling out oil through Turkey, Jordan, and Syria. This was in flagrant defiance of UN sanctions and made a complete mockery of Oil-for-Food, whose whole point was to channel all of Saddam’s trade. The smuggling, too, was widely reported in the press—and shrugged off by the UN. In the same period, Saddam imposed his own version of sanctions on the U.S., demanding that Oil-for-Food funds be switched from dollars into euros. The UN complied, thereby making it even harder for observers to keep track of its largely secretive and confusing bookkeeping.
As Oil-for-Food grew in size and scope, the U.S. mission to the UN began putting a significant number of its relief contracts on hold for closer scrutiny. Both Sevan and Annan complained publicly and often about these delays, describing them as injurious to the people of Iraq and urging the Security Council to push the contracts through faster. What Sevan did not convey was that, by 2000, complaints had begun reaching him about Iraqi government demands for kickbacks from suppliers on the relief side. These (according to a recent report in the Financial Times) Sevan simply buried, telling complainants to submit formal documents to the Security Council through their countries’ UN missions (something they had no incentive to do since Saddam would most likely have responded by scrapping the deals altogether).
By 2002, the sixth year of the program, it was no longer credible that the UN Secretariat could be clueless about Saddam’s systematic violations and exploitation of the humanitarian purpose of Oil-for-Food. On May 2, in a front-page story by Alix M. Freedman and Steve Stecklow, the Wall Street Journal documented in detail Saddam’s illicit kickbacks on underpriced oil contracts, noting that "at least until recently, the UN has given Iraq surprising influence over the official price of its oil." In fact, against the resistance of Russia, France, China, and the UN Secretariat, the U.S. and Britain had been trying to put a halt to the kickbacks through an elaborate system to enforce fairer pricing—but with only limited success. Sevan, clearly aware of the scam, was quoted in the Journal article as saying he had "no mandate" to stop it.
Apparently, however, there was a near-boundless mandate for the Secretariat to expand the scope of the spending. A mere fortnight later, on May 14, 2002, the Security Council passed a resolution cutting itself out of the loop entirely on all Oil-for-Food contracts deemed humanitarian, and giving direct power of approval to the Secretary-General. Henceforth, the Security Council would confine its oversight to items of potential dual use, such as chemical spraying equipment, or forbidden goods like highly enriched uranium, nuclear-reactor components, and the like. Unimpeded responsibility for the "humanitarian" aspect of the program fell to Annan.
The next month, "humanitarian" became a broad category indeed. On June 2, Annan approved a newly expanded shopping list by Saddam that the Secretariat dubbed "Oil-for-Food Plus." This added ten new sectors to be funded by the program, including "labor and social affairs," "information," "justice," and "sports." Either the Secretary-General had failed to notice or he did not care that none of these had anything to do with the equitable distribution of relief. By contrast, they had everything to do with the running of Saddam’s totalitarian state. "Labor," "information," and "justice" were the realms of Baathist party patronage, propaganda, censorship, secret police, rape rooms, and mass graves. As for sports, that was the favorite arena of Saddam’s sadistic son Uday, already infamous for torturing Iraqi athletes.
Then came the autumn of 2002, when President Bush delivered his warning to Saddam to comply with sixteen previous UN resolutions to disarm, and the U.S. persuaded the Security Council to pass a seventeenth. Though there was by this time no dearth of damning information in the public domain, Oil-for-Food rolled on. On September 18, the Coalition for International Justice released its heavily researched report, Sources of Revenue for Saddam & Sons, documenting rampant corruption and smuggling under UN sanctions and Oil-for-Food, warning of an Iraqi shift from "informal, on-the-sly deals" to increasingly "brazen and formal government-to-government arrangements," and asking how, "given . . . the world’s largest humanitarian program ever, can there remain shortages of basic medicines and foodstuffs" in Iraq? Four months later, with Saddam still defiant and war looking likely, Annan signed a letter to the Security Council in which, among other things, he approved the use of $20 million in Oil-for-Food funds to pay for an "Olympic sport city" and $50 million to equip Saddam’s propaganda arm, the Ministry of Information.3
By then, of course, debate over Iraq was raging in the Security Council, and the U.S. and Britain were bitterly at odds with France and Russia. Annan weighed in publicly on the side of the latter, urging yet more time and tolerance. He did not mention his own interest as the boss of a massive relief program funded by Saddam. Neither did he mention that Saddam’s commercial deals heavily favored French and Russian companies, though he had access to actual numbers about those deals that, thanks to UN secretiveness, the public did not.
On March 17, with the U.S.-led coalition poised to invade, Annan pulled his international staff out of Iraq. Three days later, as coalition forces rolled into Iraq, he expressed regret that war had come "despite the best efforts of the international community and the United Nations." Describing the UN as the keeper of international "legitimacy," he assured the Iraqi people that, as soon as possible, the UN would be back to do "whatever it can to bring them assistance and support."
Following the fall of Saddam’s regime, the U.S.-led coalition decided that Iraq had experienced enough of UN-style "assistance and support," at least as far as Oil-for-Food was concerned. With Russia and France suddenly willing to go along, perhaps to avoid scrutiny of Oil-for-Russia and Oil-for-France, the Security Council voted unanimously on May 22 that the program should be wound down. No more oil revenues were to flow in, but the UN Secretariat was to continue administering the remaining relief contracts until November, when any unfinished business would be turned over to the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Baghdad.
At that stage, Oil-for-Food had close to $13 billion in BNP Paribas’s Iraq accounts, most of it set aside to pay for contracts already approved. During the summer and early fall, the New York office began tidying up loose ends, renegotiating, "prioritizing," and basically removing the graft elements from the remaining contracts before handover to the CPA. In these efforts, the UN got some prompting from the U.S. Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA)—the agency that has been auditing Halliburton’s recent activities in Iraq.
From the thousands of remaining contracts, the DCMA (together with the Defense Contract Audit Agency) culled a batch of 759 of the largest deals, valued altogether at $6.9 billion. The reviewers estimated that among these contracts, almost half were overpriced by about 21 percent, for a total of $656 million that Saddam’s regime had overpaid. This was in all likelihood the kickback component, part of which the suppliers were meant to share illicitly with the regime. Dryly, the DCMA’s report adds that, in the course of its researches, "Some items of questionable utility for the Iraqi people (e.g., Mercedes Benz touring sedans) were identified."
By the time the Oil-for-Food office was finished renegotiating its contracts, it had scrapped more than a quarter of them. Some of the reasons, listed in UN public documents, are intriguing. There was, for example, the Syrian supplier of "spare parts for rotating equipment" whom it was "not possible to contact"; the Lebanese vendor of "welding machines" who was "unwilling to accept the 10-percent deduction"—i.e., a price minus the bribe-plus-kickback; and the Jordanian seller of school furniture whose contract had to be dropped because "company does not exist and the person in charge moved to Egypt."
Then came the formal ceremonies to which I have already alluded. On November 19, Sevan’s office put out a press release praising Oil-for-Food as "one of the most efficient of UN programs." On November 20, Annan chimed in with his own praise for Oil-for-Food, paying tribute to the staff and "particularly to its executive director, Benon Sevan." On November 21, almost seven years after setting up shop as a temporary and limited measure to bring food and medicine to hungry people in Iraq, the program shut down, handing the CPA a royal mess.
Sevan had assured the Security Council that, along with control of the more than $8 billion in funds and contracts still to be administered, the CPA would get "the entire Oil-for-Food database." In fact, the transfer was incomplete. Plenty of contract information was missing. So Byzantine were the BNP Paribas accounts that, rather than risk interrupting relief deliveries, the CPA simply left them under the management of the UN treasurer, who until almost a year after the fall of Saddam never got around to sending any current bank statements, let alone prior records.4
Meanwhile, however, the Iraqi Governing Council had itself begun to pore over records of the Saddam regime from various ministries, and former Baath officials were also starting to talk. On December 5, a British adviser to the Council, Claude Hankes-Drielsma, wrote from Baghdad to Annan, urging the UN to "take the moral high ground" and appoint an independent commission to investigate profiteering under Oil-for-Food.
Not a moment too soon: now the revelations were beginning to flow rapidly. On January 25 of this year, the Iraqi newspaper Al-Mada published a list, reportedly recovered from the Iraqi oil ministry, of some 270 individuals and entities in some 50 countries who were alleged to have received vouchers good for oil from Saddam Hussein. The list was an eye-opener. It included the former French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua, British MP George Galloway, Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri, the Russian nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a large number of Russian oil companies, the Russian state, and the Russian Orthodox Church. It also included the family name of the head of the UN Oil-for-Food program: Sevan.
Those named in Al-Mada’s list ignored, denied, or dismissed it on grounds that they had legitimately bought oil from Saddam. As for Sevan, he categorically repudiated the notion that he had ever received oil or oil money from the Iraqi regime, while Annan, in a statement more artfully hedged, said: "As far as I know, nobody in the Secretariat has committed any wrongdoing." A spokesman for the UN Secretariat repeated the by-now usual line that Oil-for-Food had been the most audited program at the UN—"audited to death" was the exact phrase—and in late February the Oil-for-Food office released a seven-page statement clearly aimed at deflecting blame for any graft involved with the program.
According to this official account, the Secretariat had no responsibility for confirming that contract-pricing was fair, or that suppliers were legitimate (that was the job of Saddam and the UN country missions); no responsibility for implementing the program (that too was the job of Saddam); no responsibility for either spotting or stopping corruption by Saddam via Oil-for-Food contracts (that was the job of the Security Council); and no awareness of unauthorized oil exports (though the office confirmed its knowledge of "media reports on alleged violations"). By the light of this clarification, indeed, it was hard to tell what the Oil-for-Food program was, in fact, responsible for, beyond controlling the opaque bank accounts, checking that the contracts—honest or not—were properly punctuated, watching Saddam do whatever he chose, and collecting a 2.2-percent commission on his oil.
And so we arrive at the denouement—at least so far. On February 29, the New York Times published a long news article based on "a trove of internal Iraqi government documents and financial records" unearthed by the Iraqi Governing Council. The article described oil traders lugging suitcases full of illicit cash to the ministries and cited stacks of evidence showing that, through Oil-for-Food, Saddam’s regime had squirreled away billions for itself while ordinary Iraqis received expired medicines and substandard rations.
Still the UN hung tough. On March 3, Hankes-Drielsma notified Annan that Iraqi authorities had asked an auditing firm, KPMG International, and a law firm, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, to prepare an independent report. In his letter, Hankes-Drielsma explained his reasoning:
Based on the facts as I know them at the present time, the UN failed in its responsibility to the Iraqi people and the international community at large. The UN should not be surprised that the Iraqi people question the UN’s credibility at this time and any future role for the UN in Iraq. It will not come as a surprise if the Oil-for-Food program turns out to be one of the world’s most disgraceful scams and an example of inadequate control, responsibility, and transparency, providing an opportune vehicle for Saddam Hussein to operate under the UN aegis to continue his reign of terror and oppression.
On March 10 came confirmation that Annan’s son Kojo had held a consultancy with Cotecna right around the time the company won the UN job to inspect goods coming into Iraq. On March 11 came an article in the Wall Street Journal detailing further links between Saddam’s oil largesse and Sevan. The following week came word that Congress would hold hearings on Oil-for-Food. And on March 19, having ignored, stonewalled, and denied, Annan finally conceded that "it is highly possible there has been quite a lot of wrongdoing," and called for an independent inquiry.
As the various audits, investigations, and hearings gear up to delve into the saga of UN involvement in Saddam’s Iraq, we may learn even more about his worldwide net of corruption. With skill, we may locate some of the billions he is believed to have salted away under UN oversight. With luck, we may get to this money ahead of the terrorists with whom he consorted—if they have not gotten to it already. Already known, for example, is that two firms doing business with Saddam through Oil-for-Food were linked to financier Ahmed Idris Nasreddin, now on the UN’s own watchlist of individuals "belonging to or associated with" al Qaeda.
But let us retain our focus. That Saddam Hussein was a monster and a corrupt monster is not news. That he would exploit, for massive personal gain, a humanitarian program meant to relieve the miseries of his countrymen is horrifying but hardly astonishing. Nevertheless, any investigation that confines itself to detailing the abundantly evident corruption of Saddam Hussein will have missed the point.
What lies at the core of this story is the United Nations, and how it came to pass that an institution charged with bringing peace and probity to the world should have offered itself up—willingly, even eagerly—as the vehicle for a festival of abuse and fraud.
To begin with, Oil-for-Food was an enormous venture in central planning, the biggest project of its kind launched in many a decade and one that utterly ignored the lessons about such systems learned at agonizing cost over the past century. The UN Secretariat, in its well-paid arrogance, set out to administer virtually the entire economy of Iraq. Under its eye, all legitimate trading privileges became the franchise of a tyrant who laid first claim to every barrel of oil and every dollar (or euro) of proceeds. How could Oil-for-Food not help consolidate Saddam’s grip on power? Nevertheless, it was with this grand thief of Baghdad that the UN cut its humanitarian deal, chalking in a fat commission for the Secretariat.
Nor did anyone in the UN system so much as lift an eyebrow, even after questions began to be raised. Last November, before the Security Council of the United Nations, the organization’s Secretary-General proclaimed it a splendid achievement that the UN had legitimized a scheme by which 60 percent of Iraq’s population depended entirely on the rationing cards of a totalitarian state. This was an event that should have seized the vaunted international community with horror. Instead, from out of the mouth of the Angolan ambassador who that month was chairing the UN Security Council there issued only unctuous praise for "the exceptionally important role of the program in providing humanitarian assistance to the people of Iraq."
But all that is only prelude. The scope of UN dereliction is much broader, encompassing factors institutional, personal, and, finally, political.
It is true that Oil-for-Food managed to deliver to Iraqis some portion of what it promised. On sales totaling $65 billion, some $46 billion (by Annan’s uncheckable reckoning) went for "humanitarian" spending. Of this amount, an official total of $15 billion worth of food and health supplies—the original rationale for the program—had been received by the time Saddam fell. The actual figure was no doubt considerably less if you factor in the kickbacks and spoiled goods; from the remainder came the equipment for Saddam’s oil monopoly, the construction materials, the TV studio systems, the carpets and air conditioners for the ministries, and all the rest.
But at what cost? Are we supposed to conclude that, in order to deliver this amount of aid, the UN had to approve Saddam’s more than $100 billion worth of largely crooked business, had to look the other way while he skimmed money, bought influence, built palaces, and stashed away billions on the side, at least some of which may now be funding terror in Iraq or beyond?
No, something was at work here other than passive acquiescence. At precisely what moment during the years of Oil-for-Food did the UN Secretariat cross the line from "supervising" Saddam to collaborating with him? With precisely what deed did it enter into collusion? Even setting aside such obvious questions as whether individual UN officials took bribes, did the complicity begin in 1998, when Saddam flexed his muscles by throwing out the weapons inspectors and when Oil-for-Food, instead of leaving along with them, raised the cap on his oil sales? Did it come in 1999, when, even as Saddam’s theft was becoming apparent, the UN scrapped the oil-sales limits altogether? Or in 2000 and 2001, when Sevan dismissed complaints and reports about blatant kickbacks? Did it start in 2002, when Annan, empowered by Oil-for-Food Plus, signed his name to projects for furnishing Saddam with luxury cars, stadiums, and office equipment for his dictatorship? Or did the defining moment arrive in 2003, when Annan, ignoring the immense conflict posed by the fact that his own institution was officially on Saddam’s payroll, lobbied alongside two of Saddam’s other top clients, Russia and France, to preserve his regime? Certainly by the time Annan and Sevan, neck-deep in revelatory press reports and standing indignantly athwart their own secret records, continued to offer to the world their evasions and denials, the balance had definitively tipped.
Annan’s studied bewilderment is itself an indictment not only of his person but of the system he heads. If anyone is going to take the fall for the Oil-for-Food scandal, Sevan seems the likeliest candidate. But it was the UN Secretary-General who compliantly condoned Saddam’s ever-escalating schemes and conditions, and who lobbied to the last to preserve Saddam’s totalitarian regime while the UN Secretariat was swimming in his cash.
Annan has been with the UN for 32 years. He moved up through its ranks; he knows it well. He was there at the creation of Oil-for-Food, he chose the director, he signed the distribution plans, he visited Saddam, he knew plenty about Iraq, and one might assume he read the newspapers. We are left to contemplate a UN system that has engendered a Secretary-General either so dishonest that he should be dismissed or so incompetent that he is truly dangerous—and should be dismissed.
The final perfidy, though, is not personal but political. The UN, in the name of its own lofty principles, and to its rich emolument, actively helped sustain and protect a tyrant whose brutality and repression were the cause of Iraqi deprivation in the first place. What can this mean? The answer may be simply that, along with its secrecy, its massed cadres of bureaucrats beholden to the favor of the man at the top, its almost complete lack of accountability, external oversight, or the most elementary checks and balances, the UN suffers from an endemic affinity with anti-Western despots, and will turn a blind eye to the devil himself in order to keep them in power. Certainly there is much in its history and its behavior to support this view.
Perhaps, then, the complicity was there all along, built in, and was merely reinforced year after year as the UN collected the commissions and processed the funds that transformed Oil-for-Food into the sleaziest program ever to fly the UN flag and the single largest item on every budget of all nine UN agencies involved, plus the Secretariat itself. That, in the end, may be the dirty secret at the center of the Oil-for-Food scandal.
And is this the same United Nations that, now, we are planning to entrust with bringing democracy to Iraq?
Claudia Rosett, who contributes a bi-weekly column on foreign affairs to the Wall Street Journal’s online edition, OpinionJournal.com, is a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and an adjunct fellow of the Hudson Institute.
1 As of 2001, one of the largest shareholders in BNP was Iraqi-born Nadhmi Auchi, among Britain’s richest citizens. In the 1980’s Auchi had brokered business deals for Saddam; last year he was convicted in France of illicit profiteering as part of the huge Elf oil scandal. The UN says the Oil-for-Food contract was awarded to BNP on a strictly competitive basis.
2 According to a spokesman at the UN Secretary-General’s office, Kojo Annan had been a trainee at Cotecna from December 1995 to February 1998, and two months later was back at work for the firm as a consultant; his consultancy, which lasted until December 1998, thus coincided with the period during which the UN would have been receiving and reviewing bids for the Oil-for-Food inspection job. Both Kojo and Kofi Annan have denied that Kojo’s consulting work was in any way related to the UN.
3 This is especially significant in light of the role that would be played by Saddam’s televised propaganda during the war. In the event, Saddam may have had to rely on equipment brought in earlier under Oil-for-Food from places like France and Jordan. He was unable to take delivery of TV studio equipment ordered from Russia and approved and funded by the Secretariat on February 7, 2003, just six weeks before the war. But that was not for want of Kofi Annan’s approval.
4 Not only the occupation authority but the Iraqis themselves have failed to penetrate the UN wall of disdain, although it is their own money they wish to know about. The Iraqi Central Bank began requesting copies of the relevant BNP bank statements in July 2003. Not until late March of this year, after I aired the matter in a piece in National Review Online, was there some halting sign of movement in the UN treasurer’s office. Similar stonewalling—no accounting given, no access to statements—has met the repeated efforts of Kurds in northern Iraq to find out what happened to about $4 billion in separate allocations owed to them under Oil-for-Food.”
“What about Dubya's War-For-Oil program?
How many American boys have died in pursuit of it?”
“War for oil?”
“We didn't go to war for oil...
we went to war because of al Qaeda,
no, thats not right...
we went to war because Saddam was an evil man, no that wasn't it either..
we went to war to free the Iraqi people...uh, no that wasn't it either..
we went to war to give democracy a foot hold in the middle east...
well, no, that still wasn't the reason...
Why the hell did we go to war?
Oh yea, all those weapons of mass destruction we were told he was going to use any time now.
“I suspect that oil was another reason....not one mentioned at the time though.”
“weak old dead horse, steve”
“Yea, it's legs quit kicking when they didn't find any WMD.
Remember, that was why we got into this mess in the first place.”
“How soon they forget...LOL”
“April 23, 2004
Text of Nationally Televised Address to Iraq by Ambassador Paul Bremer
Iraq faces a choice.
You could take the path which leads to a new Iraq, a peaceful, democratic Iraq, an Iraq of political freedom and economic opportunity, an Iraq where the majority is not Sunni, Shia, Arab, Kurd or Turcoman, but Iraqi. This is the path to a bright and hopeful future.
Or you could take the path which leads to the dark Iraq of the past where violence and fear rule, where power comes from a gun, and where only the powerful and ruthless are secure.
Thousands of conversations with you over the past year have made me certain that the vast majority of Iraqis reject the brutality and darkness of the old days. You have told me you want a new Iraq that honors the best of your past, but provides freedom, equality and opportunity for all.
The Coalition shares your vision of Iraq's future, a future of hope. Working together we can create the future you want.
But we have much to do as we walk this path.
The enemies, domestic and foreign, of your bright future are trying to force you to take the path that leads backwards to brute force, division and hatred. These anti-democratic forces will not disappear by themselves, but working together we can defeat them. We in the Coalition will do our part to restore security. But you must do your part, too.
If you do not defend your beloved country it will not be saved.
For the past three weeks my Coalition colleagues and I have asked Iraqi citizens all across the country--workers, students and professionals-about the current situation. Our military commanders are meeting regularly with local sheiks and notables to get their views on ways to reduce tensions. Your fellow citizens recommended ways to reduce tensions in Iraq.
We listened to you and tonight I want to tell you what we plan to do about the issues which are most on your minds: security, jobs, healing the nation's wounds and the political process.
Everyone we spoke to said security was their first priority and that we should use Iraqis to provide security.
Security is our top priority.
The threats to your security come from members of the former regime's intelligence services and Republican Guards, and from foreign terrorists. These groups do not want a democratic Iraq. They must be defeated.
The Coalition has over 130,000 troops providing security in Iraq. We recognize that we cannot provide real security unless Iraqis stand shoulder to shoulder with us.
Our training of an Iraqi Army and an Iraqi police service continues at an extraordinary pace.
Sunday the Minister of Defense announced his appointment of the top Iraqi generals in the new Iraqi Army. Iraqi officers, drawn almost entirely from the many honorable men of the former Iraqi Army, already command these forces. Over 70 percent of all the men in the Iraqi army and Iraq Civil Defense Corps served honorably in the former army. They have asked to serve their country again and we welcome their renewed service. In reconstituting these forces, we have also benefited from the skills of the many who served in armed groups that fought against Saddam's regime. We will continue to welcome these individuals into the army, the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, the police and border guards.
The Minister of Defense informs me that he intends to have a meeting with vetted senior officers from the former regime next week to discuss how best to build the new Iraqi military establishment.
More of these officers with honorable records-from the former army and elsewhere-- will serve in the months ahead as your new Army grows. In the coming months, we will steadily strengthen our security partnership, placing increasing responsibility in the hands of Iraqis. By June 30, Iraqi soldiers in the ranks will report up through an Iraqi chain of command to Iraqi generals.
Every Iraqi can help defeat these threats. The Coalition has instituted a robust rewards program to pay those who provide information about foreign fighters and others threatening your security. If you have such information, you should provide it to the nearest police or military post.
When we transfer sovereignty to an Iraqi government on June 30, Coalition and Iraqi forces will continue to work as partners to defeat the terrorists. These forces, Coalition and Iraqi, will provide you and your families with security.
I understand from my conversations around the country that you are concerned by the situation in Fallujah.
So are we.
The situation in there has calmed in recent days. But those responsible for the lawlessness and unrest that began in Fallujah in February with the murder of 17 Iraqi policemen still bear heavy arms in the streets. Some of these men belonged to the banished instruments of Saddam's repression-- the former intelligence services and former Republican Guards. Others are foreigners working for professional terrorists like Abu Mussah al-Zarkawi. These are the people who have brought death and destruction to Fallujah. And Fallujah cannot be peaceful while such men remain at liberty.
To reduce the suffering in Fallujah I have twice sent my deputy along with Governing Council members to negotiate with the city's leaders. These leaders say they do not support those who are holding the city hostage from within. These talks have eased access to hospitals, allowed ambulances to evacuate the dead and wounded. Medicine and food have come in and we have permitted doctors, police, civil defense members and technicians to enter the city to provide critical services to its citizens.
We call upon the people of Fallujah to support the legitimate Iraqi authorities in bringing this crisis to an end. We hope that they join in ridding the city of heavy military weapons. Those who turn in weapons voluntarily will not be arrested for weapons violations.
The current ceasefire is a good start, but without exception, armed bands in the city must submit to national authority. If these bands do not surrender their military weapons and instead continue to use them against Iraqi and Coalition Security forces, major hostilities could resume on short notice.
Militias also threaten security. Ultimately, Iraq cannot be secure, free and united if people can set up armed militias and define the law of the land to suit their own ambitions. That is why all armed elements in Iraq must be controlled by the central government, not just now, but during the next government and the next and the next.
This applies equally to those armed groups who fought valiantly against Saddam's tyranny. For some time we have been engaged in talks with these groups over how their members can be integrated into Iraq's armed forces or move into civilian life. I urge our partners in these talks to move quickly to comply with the Transitional Administrative Law, including those provisions which prohibit militias and other armed groups.
Militias present a particular problem in Najaf and Karbala. We in the Coalition recognize the holy nature of these cities. I add my voice to those of the religious authorities who have called for disarmament in these holy cities. We are prepared to work with these authorities to achieve disarmament. Armed militias should not be allowed to exploit holy shrines to advance personal political interests.
Earlier this week, a group of professors told me their concerns about those detained by the Coalition. It is a familiar complaint. During the war and since, Coalition forces have detained thousands of Iraqis, and hundreds of foreigners. But we have already released over 75 percent of those detained.
I understand your concerns and want to tell you what we are doing. We have simplified the processing of detainees. All cases are reviewed within 72 hours by an attorney. In many cases, the person detained is released immediately. Two months ago, we established a special board to expedite the review of all detainees. Since then we have released over 2,500 detainees. We give highest priority to reviewing the records of female detainees. Right now fewer than 10 females are detained. Of course we will not release any detainee guilty of serious crimes, as Saddam did when he flooded the streets with criminals in 2002.
Many of you have told us that you are frustrated by the lack of information about individual detainees. So we now publish a complete list in Arabic daily on the Coalition website. This list is available at Coalition Information centers across the country and we are going to post it regularly at the country's police stations and courthouses starting on May 10.
A couple of days ago I met with 25 Iraqi women who told me that their primary concern was security against common criminals. Criminals, many of them released from prison by Saddam Hussein before the war, continue to prey on innocent Iraqis. The answer is to build a highly capable police force and we are doing that. The Coalition, using funds provided by the American people, has embarked on the biggest police training program in history. Two thousand highly trained police officers will graduate from the police academies every month from now until next February. They will make your lives more secure from criminals.
A number of different Iraqi groups have told us of their concerns about border security. These concerns are well founded. Iraq's long borders, especially those with Iran and Syria are difficult to defend and there is evidence that foreign terrorists are coming into Iraq. But here too we are working towards solutions.
When interim government takes office on June 30 that government will have the equipment, staff, training and materials necessary to operate each of its 20 major border crossing points. We expect to have 16,000 Iraqis devoted to border security by June 30. Until that time we are going to limit and control the number of people crossing into Iraq from other nations. Additionally, the Coalition is providing Iraq with sophisticated technical systems to help screen and track foreign visitors.
The lack of security affects everyone, even those not directly touched by violence. Saboteurs and insurgents attack the country's power lines and oil facilities. These attacks deny electricity to you and your family and oil revenues to all Iraqis. We are working with Iraqis to improve protection of your national infrastructure. Today over 20,000 Iraqis in specialized electricity and oil security forces work with Coalition Forces to guard your national property against these attacks.
The second subject we have heard from you about is economic security. For too long, Saddam used economic resources to create divisions between Iraq's people and regions. Some were punished, others were rewarded. Now, we have the chance to correct the terrible economic legacies of the past and ensure opportunities for all Iraqis.
We understand that Iraqis need jobs and the Coalition is working to create them. Since Liberation, the Coalition has completed over 20,000 individual reconstruction projects worth billions of dollars. These projects have employed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis building and renovating schools, orphanages and medical clinics; roads, bridges and dams. Iraqis from Dohuk to Basra have worked on these projects and millions have benefited from them. Thousands of additional projects will be financed by over 19 billion dollars from America.
I have told my colleagues in the Coalition to accelerate these projects everywhere in country. We expect that they will create over a million and a half jobs over the next year. I have instructed the Coalition to give priority to Iraqi firms whenever possible in order to create as many opportunities for Iraqis as possible. To date, the firms working on these projects have given contracts to several hundred Iraqi firms. I have also give our military commanders and Coalition offices around the country an additional $500 million to spend on reconstruction projects which can be quickly completed, like fixing roads or schools, and which will provide jobs for you. Already our officials are meeting with provincial and municipal leaders to hear their priorities.
But Iraq's reconstruction requires more than security, more than bricks and mortar, more than jobs.
While this is a time for all Iraqis to work together on the future, some things must not be forgotten, must not be forgiven. You have spoken to us on this subject, too.
I know that memories of Saddam's tyrannies haunt many of you. I have stood at the edge of the mass graves in Hillah. I have looked into the faces of the survivors in Halabja. I have seen the torture chambers and rape rooms in Saddam's prisons. I have seen these things and I think about the horror of them. I think about them, but you have lived them.
It is justice you demand and it is justice you will have.
That is why the Governing Council created the Iraqi Special Tribunal-- to try those accused of grievous crimes during the past administration, people like Saddam, "Chemical" Ali and others. This Iraqi court, run by Iraqis, has just appointed seven judges and five prosecutors. As soon as the court asks us, the Coalition will turn these criminals over to face justice in this Iraqi court.
To further the cause of justice for you, I pledge to give all possible assistance to the Iraqi Special Tribunal as it prepares for these trials. The United States will pay $75 million for the court's annual budget and we will provide judicial training for the newly appointed judges and prosecutors.
This Special Tribunal serves a purpose beyond bringing criminals to justice. The Tribunal becomes a national remembrance for the hundreds of thousands murdered by Saddam's regime.
We must attend to the spirit.We must recall suffering; we must honor sacrifice.
To commemorate those who suffered the atrocities of Saddam's regime, I have directed the establishment of a National Commission for Remembrance. This Commission will be part of a broader effort to come to terms with Iraq's immediate past. The Commission will administer a $10 million fund for remembrance and will consider proposals from across the nation on how best to memorialize the suffering of Iraq's many communities under Saddam. In addition the Commission will seek to raise private funds to establish a national museum in Baghdad to ensure that the nation forever recalls Saddam's depredations. The commission and museum will probably want to focus their efforts on the sufferings during the 1991 Intifada, the 1988 Anfal campaign and Saddam's "Arabization" campaign that savaged Kurds, Arabs and Turcomans alike.
Remembering is indispensable both as a comfort to the oppressed and tyrannized and as a cautionary tale for the future. It is necessary protection against future tyranny, but it is not enough by itself.
The Baath Party poisoned Iraqi political life. Baathism was one of the most brutal instruments of Saddam's tyranny. There is no room in the new Iraq for Baathist ideology, for Baathist criminals. Banning the party and removing from public life those who used it to commit crimes was necessary and remains necessary if we are to achieve your vision of a democratic Iraq.
But many Iraqis have complained to me that debaathification policy has been applied unevenly and unjustly. I have looked into these complaints and they are legitimate. The debaathification policy was and is sound. It does not need to be changed. It is the right policy for Iraq. But it has been poorly implemented. The requirement to join the party was strongly enforced among teachers and university professors. A group of teachers told me yesterday that poor execution of the debaathification process has had a severe impact on teachers and university professors.
We cannot shortchange the children of Iraq. They are your future. I have discussed this matter with the Minister of Education, the Minister of Higher Education and with the Chairman of the Debaathification Commission. We have agreed that decisions made by local appeals committees of the Ministry of Education will be effective immediately. This will allow thousands of teachers to return to work. Thousands more will begin receiving pensions this week. Those primary and secondary school teachers formerly of the rank of firqah members whose appeals have not yet been heard will have their appeal adjudicated within 20 days. I have asked the Commission to handle the cases of hundreds of university professors with the same urgency. Professors who did not use their posts to intimidate others or commit crimes should be allowed to return to work promptly.
You have asked us about the future.
In our consultations, many Iraqi groups asked whether the occupation is really going to end on June 30. They asked what kind of a government will follow.
President Bush promised the Iraqi people that the occupation would end on June 30. And it will end on June 30. But our military forces will remain, working alongside Iraqi forces as partners to provide security after that date.
The Coalition Provisional Authority will dissolve. The Iraqi government that replaces it will be a fully sovereign one, invested with the authority to govern Iraqi until elections are held in January 2005. This government, described by UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, will be made up of competent people of the highest integrity and reflecting the broad diversity of the Iraqi people.
You will determine what kind of government will follow this interim period. The process for you to create a government of your choice is explained in the Transitional Administrative Law.
Under the Transitional Administrative Law, you will have free, fair and national elections for a National Assembly in January. That assembly will have responsibility for choosing a government. The same Assembly will also write Iraq's new, permanent Constitution. In writing your new, permanent constitution the National Assembly will guided but not bound by the Transitional Administrative Law. This will be your constitution. Your elected representatives will write it and you will approve it and it will determine how you are governed.
Much is going to happen in the 10 weeks before Iraqi sovereignty.
In the days and months ahead the Coalition will work with you to provide security, justice and prosperity for all Iraqis.
Such an Iraq will honor Iraq's history, a proud and ancient history stretching back to the beginnings of civilization.
Such an Iraq will honor the generations who came before you.
Such an Iraq will serve the generations who will come after you.
Such an Iraq will place Iraqis securely on the path to a future of hope for all.
Mabruk al Iraq al Jadeed.
“What color is the sky where you live?
Bremer...isn't that the guy that hammered Bush before 9/11 for doing nothing about terrorism?”
“Iraq war opponents fill oil-for-food 'vouchers' list
By David R. Sands
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Companies, politicians and pro-Saddam Hussein activists from countries that opposed the war in Iraq figure heavily in a list of about 270 recipients of suspected oil bribes from Iraq under the scandal-plagued United Nations oil-for-food program, investigators say.
The Russian government, a former French ambassador to the United Nations, the son of Syria's defense minister and the U.N. undersecretary charged with running the oil-for-food program were included on the list compiled by Iraq's state oil ministry under Saddam and published by a Baghdad newspaper in late January.
The discovery of the list has sparked an international debate over the run-up to the Iraq war and a round of global finger-pointing over the extent of mismanagement and corruption in the program.
The secret payments "provided Saddam Hussein and his corrupt regime with a convenient vehicle through which he bought support internationally by bribing political parties, companies, journalists and other individuals of influence," Claude Hankes-Drielsma, a consultant retained by the Iraqi Governing Council to investigate the scandal, told a House hearing last month.
"This secured the cooperation and support of countries that included members of the Security Council of the United Nations — the very body that received over $1 billion in fees to administer the program," he said.
Lawyer John Fawcett helped write a 2002 report by the Washington-based Coalition for International Justice that detailed Saddam's ability to flout international sanctions in the decade after the 1991 Persian Gulf War, using illegal oil sales, bribes and kickbacks on food and aid shipments.
Although investigators caution that the Baghdad list has not been verified and contains at least a few questionable entries, "what's in there pretty much bears out things we already knew," Mr. Fawcett said.
"It's long been clear from the record that Iraq was openly using the oil-for-food program to reward its friends and buy new ones," he added. "It was the French, it was the Russians, it was maybe a hundred countries that were involved."
The list includes a former French ambassador to the United Nations, Jean-Bernard Merimee, who is named twice. It also includes Farras Mustapha Tlass, the son of Syrian Defense Minister Mustapha Tlass.
In addition, it names U.N. Undersecretary General Benon Sevan, a close aide to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
The program, begun in 1996, was designed to address a growing humanitarian crisis in Iraq that Saddam's government blamed on the sanctions. The U.N.-run program was supposed to allow Iraq to use money from oil sales to acquire food, medicine and other aid from a tightly restricted list.
From 1997 to 2002, Iraq sold $67 billion in oil and bought $38 billion in commodities under the program.
But a new General Accounting Office study estimates that Saddam's regime was able to siphon off about $10.1 billion in illegal revenues, through clandestine oil sales ($5.7 billion) and special charges and kickbacks on oil and commodity deals ($4.4 billion).
The leaked Iraqi list of about 270 recipients covers just one year — 1999 — and relates to just one facet of the overall fraud: That is "vouchers" that could be sold by the bearers to legitimate oil brokers and shippers, who then would have the right to purchase and market the Iraqi crude.
Russia, which ardently opposed the war, has by far the most entries on the list, including 1.366 billion barrels allotted to the Russian government alone.
A score of giant Russian oil firms, several Kremlin ministries and even the Russian Orthodox Church are listed as having received the vouchers. The church and many of the companies in question have denied wrongdoing.
Just 10 French organizations and officials are on the oil-for-food list, but they include a top adviser to President Jacques Chirac and France's ambassador to the United Nations in 1999.
French denials of wrongdoing in the scandal have been particularly heated.
Jean-David Levitte, France's ambassador to the United States, rejects the idea that there was an oil-for-food "scandal" and has blamed conservative critics of France and the United Nations for publicizing the list.
In an interview with the Rocky Mountain News last month, he noted that the United States imported far more oil from Iraq than France during the sanction years and that the United States had the right to review every contract approved under the oil-for-food program.
"It is important to understand that nothing regarding Iraq could have been done without the approval of the United States," he argued.
Several questions surround the list.
It is not clear, for example, whether those named actually received the secret vouchers or were simply targeted for bribery. And oil companies that received the vouchers might not have profited directly, but kicked back the money to Saddam and his allies as one more price of doing business with a corrupt regime.
Pro-Iraqi activists in the United States, Britain and other countries that backed the war also showed up on the list.
Antiwar British legislator George Galloway, who already has pressed one successful suit against press charges that he was bribed by Saddam, denied obtaining the vouchers good for 19 million barrels of oil he reportedly was given.
"In my own case, I have never owned, bought or sold oil, or rights to oil, nor has anyone on my behalf," Mr. Galloway wrote in the London Guardian, accusing the anti-Saddam Iraqi National Congress led by Ahmed Chalabi and Republicans in U.S. Congress of pushing false stories.
Mr. Fawcett said the extraordinary range of suspected recipients showed the breadth of Saddam's corruption and his willingness to work with — and pay off — anyone who could advance his cause.
The voucher list includes sympathetic Arab journalists; leading Palestinian militant groups; Communist parties in Russia, Belarus and Slovakia; an adviser to Pope John Paul II; and recipients from 52 countries ranging from Algeria and Austria to Yemen and Yugoslavia.
"One big thing about this list is that it gives the lie to the argument that Saddam was a secular leader who wouldn't work with fundamentalist terrorists like al Qaeda," said Mr. Fawcett.
"Saddam would work with anybody he thought could help him."
The scandal has spawned a number of probes, including one commissioned by Mr. Annan with former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker at the helm. Three congressional committees held hearings on the oil-for-food program last month, and the new Iraqi authority in Baghdad is promising more sensational revelations as Saddam's secret files come to light.
Mr. Annan, yesterday on NBC's "Meet the Press," said any U.N. staff member found to have participated in corruption "will be dealt with severely."
"Their privileges and immunities will be lifted so that, if necessary, they will be brought before the court of law and dealt with, in addition to being dismissed," he said.
Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, Michigan Republican, told a House International Relations Committee hearing last week that the U.N. oil-for-food scandal reminded him of down-home political influence-buying and corruption in his Wayne County district.
"In many ways, we are seeing a political machine that is accused of doing something wrong and the tactics that the machine uses to defend itself are quite similar," he said.
"There will be confusion, distraction and an internal investigation controlled by the machine, the results of which may or may not be for public consumption. And it is all to defend the institution."”
“New Book Details U.N. Incompetence, Scandal
Monday, May 03, 2004
UNITED NATIONS - As U.N. officials scurry to stop publication of "Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Matters" (Miramax Books) by Kenneth Cain, Heidi Postlewait and Andrew Thomson the book’s galleys have already hit the street.
NewsMax recently reviewed the galleys.
While the book centers on the "interpersonal" relationships of the three U.N. peacekeeping employees as they traverse from one hot spot where U.N. peacekeeping operations were underway, the trio details exactly how U.N. operations work.
The picture is not a flattering one.
The book starts with the 1993 United Nations in Cambodia.
There, U.N. personnel are sent to help supervise "open" elections in the embattled nation. However, it seems more than "electioneering" was going on.
Ken Cain, a Harvard law graduate, working legal affairs for the U.N., says the world body's election personnel "looks like the international jet set on vacation."
Cain describes the U.N. personnel working in Cambodia as "young and immortal and together and drunk and stupid."
Speaking of vacations, the writers tell of sex parties in "a villa" in the capital, Phnom Penh "well known for its Friday night parties," supported by U.N. field personnel where alcohol and drugs were commonly used.
A favorite drink, called the "Space Shuttle" was made. Here’s how: "by distilling a pound of marijuana over a six-week period with increasingly good quality spirits. It is a work of love and the final product is an amber-colored liquid that tastes like Cognac. We drink it with rounds of coke."
All of this was done in the open, with senior U.N. personnel doing nothing to stop it.
Another problem in Cambodia centered around the peacekeepers themselves. It is alleged that "peacekeeping troops" sent by Bulgaria were not really military personnel at all.
The authors claim the Bulgarian government, starved for hard currency after the collapse of the Soviet Union, actually cut a deal with a score of prison inmates.
The U.N. has a policy of offering monetary compensation when a member state offers troops to peacekeeping operations. Some of the poorer nations see the U.N. policy as means to generate badly needed foreign aid.
Hence, troops become a cash crop.
In Bulgaria's case, the book alleges that prison convicts were promised "pardons" if they accepted the U.N. assignment.
"The Bulgarian government wanted the money, but didn't want to send their best trained troops. So, the story goes, they offered inmates in the prisons and psychiatric wards a deal: put on a uniform and go to Cambodia for six months, you're free on return."
Scores of criminals took the offer, given military uniforms and sent to become U.N. Blue Helmets.
Ken Cain claims the Bulgarian Blue Helmets were "hated" by everyone in Cambodia. He continues by describing them as: "A battalion of criminal lunatics (who) arrive in a lawless land. They're drunk as sailors, rape vulnerable Cambodian women and crash their U.N. Land Cruisers with remarkable frequency."
Officially, the U.N. was in Cambodia to supervise the first "open and free" elections.
Unofficially, the authors contend that the U.N. was doing all it could to make sure the existing governing power, a Vietnamese installed puppet regime, did not maintain its grip on the nation.
Andy Thomson, the medical doctor among the U.N. trio, speaks about going into a Cambodian prison in the capital with orders to get the sick inmates up and going as quick as possible.
Was this a concerted effort to stop some plague, to nurse the sick back to health? Nope. Thomson says it was simply to get the sick on their feet long enough to vote in the Cambodian election.
"U.N. lawyers have decided that inmates will be permitted to vote in the election, but an outbreak of a disease no one seems to be able to identify (later found to be Beri Beri) is wiping them out."
Thomson speaks about the sick leaving the prison proudly carrying their "voter registration cards."
Somalia and Haiti
It is mid-1993 and the intrepid U.N. trio have split for assignments in Somalia and Haiti.
Somalia, a decrepit east-African nation is in the midst of a multi- factional civil war.
Haiti is disintegrating.
In 1990, Jean-Bertrand Aristide became the county's first elected president. A year later, Arisitide is overthrown in a coup by a military-junta.
The embattled president then takes up exile in the United States where, with the help of the Clinton administration, he plans his eventual return.
In Somalia, the U.N. is called upon to provide "humanitarian relief," while in Haiti, the world body sends in a "human rights observer mission" to document "torture and execution of pro-Aristide civilians, in order to pressure General Cedras (the coup leader) from power."
The Somali effort ends in collapse.
In Haiti, it is a roller-coaster ride, culminating in a massive U.S. military invasion (1994), which returned Aristide to power at gun point.
Arriving in Somalia, Ken Cain talks about meeting a "U.S. special forces guy" at Mogadishu (Somalia's capital) airport who explains:
"If you liked Beirut, you'll love Mogadishu."
The U.N.'s efforts in Somalia have been widely viewed by historians as a low point in the organization's history.
Former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright often referred to the east African state as perfect example of a "failed nation-state."
At the U.N., its Somali efforts are often remembered by a spectacular robbery from its Mogadishu center.
In broad daylight, a safe containing more than $3.5 mil. in cash (to finance local operations) disappeared without a trace. Despite an intensive investigation by the U.N., with the assistance of Scotland Yard, the robbers were never found.
For the U.S., the Somali campaign is best remembered by the Black Hawk down incident. U.S. Special Forces lost 18 men in attempt to hunt down the infamous warlord Mohammed Farah Aidid. Several of the murdered U.S. soldiers had their body's beaten and dragged through the streets of Mogadishu.
Meanwhile, Cain, who is later joined by Postlewait, find themselves in the center of an active war zone, which they both express regrets of signing up for.
The U.N. effort is often portrayed as disorganized and corrupt.
It is no better in Haiti:
Andy Thomson, is sent by the U.N. to investigate human rights violations under the military junta of Genl Raoul Cedras.
"Here, beneath the routine bustle, something is dangerous and disconcerting. Something I can't put my finger on."
Only after a month in the country, Thomson complains, "I'm already enraged, not by the work, but being unable to work. My patients are all either headless and rotting or alive and rotting, out of reach behind prison walls."
The doctor continues, "The macoutes (gangsters) torture and we write reports and nothing changes. We're very busy and very useless."
In order to gain access to a notorious Haitian prison, where numerous prisoners are believed to be wasting away, Thomson says he decided to move on his own:
"Whatever it takes to get inside is fine with me. Condoms for the Colonel (the prison warden), antibiotics for his men-we all have our price. At least its healthier than the cigarettes we used to toss out the window to get through checkpoints in Cambodia."
When questioned about the criticisms levelled against the United Nations by the authors, David Wimhusrt, a spokesman for peacekeeping operations explained:
"The book is not an analysis of peacekeeping operations. Most of the allegations are old news and not supported by any evidence. As such, we have no comment."
Speaking of old news, the record will show that a familiar personality directed U.N. peacekeeping operations during several of the years sited in the book, Kofi Annan.
One diplomat on the Security Council concerned about the authors' allegations, confided, "I will read the book and I will be sure to ask questions."”
“From what I understand, no documentation has been provided to support this. The documents are in the possession of Chalabi’s gang. Seeing as how he’s proven himself to be an unrepentant liar in the past and certainly has an interest in keeping the UN out, I’d view this with a little more skepticism until the facts are verified if I were you.”
“you missed the point , violin. the book is critical of the UN and the UN is trying to prevent it's release.
that's the point”
“3 U.S. oil companies subpoenaed in Iraq probe Federal grand jury looking into U.N. oil-for-food program”
old news ENroN
“So, this is another conspiracy oops ... coincidence... of what the Republican party is all about....
Enron Used U.S. Government to Bully Developing Nations
By Emad Mekay
Inter Press Service
May 30, 2003
WASHINGTON, May 29 (IPS) - Defunct energy giant Enron used the U.S. government to coerce the World Bank and poor nations to grant concessions and resolve its investment problems, according to documents and correspondence released by the Treasury Department.
Enron, a bankrupt company that allegedly paid no taxes in the 15 years before it went broke in 2001--despite earning billions of dollars in declared profits--regularly and aggressively called on staff from Treasury, the State Department, the office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the World Bank to meet with foreign officials to favorably resolve its problems and disputes with their governments.
The company collapsed at the end of 2001 with billions of dollars in debt and facing accusations of accounting frauds.
The incidents, according to Treasury documents obtained by consumer groups under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, concerned its subsidiaries' activities in countries including Argentina, India, Nigeria, the Dominican Republic and Turkey.
Nations like India, Argentina and Mozambique have long publicly complained that Enron was particularly heavy-handed in using the local U.S. embassy or Washington to apply pressure if disputes were not resolved to its satisfaction.
The new documents, though heavily censored, are among the first concrete evidence of how the highly controversial company managed to outdo other U.S. firms in aggressively pulling strings in Washington.
What "sets Enron apart was that it was always willing to take things a little further than everybody else," said Tyson Slocum, a research director with Public Citizen, a U.S.-based consumer group.
"Enron, for its size, flexed an enormous amount of political muscle that gave it tremendous access that a lot of other companies did not enjoy as consistently. It just excelled at pushing its influence to a level more advanced and a little higher than many of its competitors," he told IPS.
In India, for example, according to the documents, senior government officials intervened with their Indian counterparts to settle a dispute over the Dabhol power plant in Enron's favor.
Officials from Treasury, the State Department and even the National Security Council were involved in resolving problems over the $3 billion project on behalf of the U.S. firm.
The Indians were concerned that the project was not viable in the first place, and that Enron had been accused of profiteering by charging power prices that were at least three times higher than elsewhere in the country.
But in negotiations between India, Enron, and other agencies, "the objective is to steer the discussion away from whether the (Dabhol) project is in default or not," wrote Geetha Rao of the Treasury Department's India Desk, in correspondence seen by IPS.
In another document, U.S. officials briefing then Secretary of Treasury Paul O'Neil suggested that messages he deliver on a trip to India include, "without a quick resolution of the Enron dispute, the financial relationship between the U.S. and India would suffer as a result."
"Unless expeditiously resolved, (the Enron dispute) could affect India's investment climate and hamper development of our bilateral economic and political relations," said another "talking point" provided to O'Neil.
It continues: "The U.S. government hopes that a creative resolution can be found to Dabhol so that we can focus without distraction on our growing economic and political ties."
Enron even reportedly pushed administration officials to threaten foreign governments with sanctions if their disputes could not be settled advantageously. In 2001, the Financial Times newspaper said that company executives threatened to have the United States impose sanctions on India.
The Dabhol plant, which is still 65 percent owned by Enron, was shut down as the company went into bankruptcy and Indian lenders started court action to recover loans.
The end results of lobbying efforts on behalf of Enron are unclear, but the documents clearly show how the firm arm-twisted U.S. officials to intervene on its behalf.
"To get a secretary of the Treasury to raise the issue of a specific company's contractual dispute in high-level official diplomatic meetings is not common," said Slocum, referring to O'Neil's trip to India.
Washington also intervened on Enron's behalf elsewhere.
Other documents show that in 2001 the company lobbied the government to "exercise the influence of the United States in the World Bank" to persuade the international lender, which often attaches economic policy conditions to its credit, to intervene in economic policy in Turkey so that Enron's investment there would be protected.
Both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (news - web sites) had at the time wanted to impose a deadline on offering guarantees for certain energy projects in Turkey, some of which involved Enron.
A World Bank official told IPS on Thursday that the company's pressure tactics did not work, and that the Bank went ahead and restricted guarantees to the energy sector.
Similarly, in 2001 Enron sought help from "officials who are handling U.S. foreign policy relations with Argentina," including the U.S. Trade Representative, State Department officials and the Treasury, to resolve a conflict with Argentina over a $500 million investment dispute with Enron's water services subsidiary, Azurix.
The U.S. firm had complained that local authorities would not allow Azurix to charge the high rates provided in the contract for its portable water and wastewater services. Argentina finally agreed to buy back the project.
"These documents help explain how Enron used its money and connections to distort government policies in a way that gave it a free rein to cheat consumers," said Slocum.
Activists and watchdog groups have long decried the apparently open channels between corporations and successive U.S. administrations, often established through hefty election campaigns contributions.
According to the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics, which analyzes federal elections documents, from 1989 to 2002 Enron and its employees gave nearly $6 million in individual, political and soft money contributions to federal candidates and parties.
Three-quarters of the candidates were from the Republican Party of President George W. Bush.
Enron was also a major donor to the election campaign of Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, while at least 15 high-ranking administration officials owned stock in the energy company in 2001.
Activists say this cosy relationship between the U.S. government and corporate executives leaves consumers and the poor at a disadvantage, particularly in defenseless developing nations.
"That's the kind of corporate behaviour that an organization like ours is trying to change," said Nadia Martinez of the Institute of Policy Studies in Washington. "It is when the U.S. government uses its influence to arm-twist to do things that are favorable to the U.S. and its corporations, when it may or may not be in line with the wishes of the people or the interests of the people in that country," she added.
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power." Benito Mussolini”
“I know, I know... different scandal...
U.S. keeps Halliburton data from U.N. auditors
UNITED NATIONS - The Bush administration is withholding information from U.N.-sanctioned auditors examining more than $1 billion in contracts awarded to Halliburton and other companies in Iraq without competitive bidding, the head of an international auditing panel said Thursday.
Jean-Pierre Halbwachs, the chairman of the International Advisory and Monitoring Board, said that the United States has repeatedly rebuffed his requests since March to turn over internal audits, including one that covered three contracts valued at $1.4 billion that were awarded to Halliburton, a Texas-based oil services firm. It has also failed to produce a list of other companies that have obtained contracts without having to compete.
The IAMB, which includes representatives from the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, was established by the U.N. Security Council in May 2003, to ensure that Iraq's oil revenues were managed responsibility during the U.S. occupation. Its mandate has been extended by the council so that it could continue to monitor the use of Iraq's oil revenue after the U.S. transferred political authority to the Iraqis in June.
The dispute comes as the board released an initial audit by the accounting firm KPMG Thursday that sharply criticized the U.S.-led coalition's management of billions of dollars in Iraqi oil revenue.
The Pentagon did not specifically answer questions about withholding of information to auditors, but released a statement saying the Coalition Provisional Authority worked hard to manage Iraq's oil resources well.
"In a very challenging environment the CPA made every effort to bring sound management transparency and oversight to the Development Fund for Iraq while at the same time improving the quality of life for the Iraqi people," said Lt. Commander Flex Plexico.
“I can't keep them straight anymore.”
“Lately its like waiting for the other shoe to drop...
from a centipede.”
“Yep. Good thing the Special Prosecutor statute was allowed to sunset, eh?”
“the kicker on this one is that 20billion $ estimated missing because oil
“Former U.S. official says billions of dollars were ‘squandered’
After the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the United States took control of all of the Iraqi government’s bank accounts, including the income from oil sales. The United Nations approved the financial takeover, and President Bush vowed to spend Iraq’s money wisely. But now critics are raising serious questions about how well the United States handled billions of dollars in Iraqi oil funds.
Iraq's oil resources generate billions of dollars — money the United States promised to protect after overthrowing Saddam Hussein.
Now, Frank Willis, a former senior American official in Iraq, tells NBC News the United States failed to safeguard the oil money known as the Development Fund for Iraq.
"There was, in my mind, pervasive leakage in assets of Iraq, and to some extent, those assets were squandered," says Willis.
“Why does Violin hate America so?”
“When did pointing out our mistakes become the same as hating America.
Seems like ignoring our mistakes would be closer to hating what this country stands for than anything else.”
“Sometimes, those who dissent turn out to be right (gasp).”
“"The sharpest criticism often goes hand in hand with the deepest idealism and love of country."
- Robert F. Kennedy”
“There was, in my mind, pervasive leakage in assets of Iraq, and to some extent, those assets were squandered," says Willis.
Heck, most couples can't agree on how their Christmas bonus check should be spent. A big help that article was. Sounds like anything else that goes on between businesses or on a gov't level with an impossible time restraint. Actually, it would have been a better story if Willis would have said the gov't spent the billions efficiently. As they say, I guess everyone's got one.
last edited: 12/01/04 3:24:05 PM”
last edited: 12/01/04 3:53:39 PM”
“Why does Nigal hate fish so?””
“Treasury's Role in Illicit Iraq Oil Sales Cited
Senator Releases E-Mail From Parties Involved in Shipments Banned by U.N.
By Colum Lynch
Washington Post Staff Writer
UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 16 -- The Treasury Department provided assurances that the United States would not obstruct two companies' plans to import millions of barrels of oil from Iraq in March 2003 in violation of U.N. sanctions, according to an e-mail from one of the companies.
Diplomats and oil brokers have recently said that the United States had long turned a blind eye to illicit shipments of Iraqi oil by its allies Jordan and Turkey. The United States acknowledged this week that it had acquiesced in the trade to ensure that crucial allies would not suffer economic hardships.
But the e-mail, along with others released this week by Sen. Carl M. Levin (Mich.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Governmental Affairs panel's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, provides evidence that the Bush administration directly abetted Jordan's efforts to build up its strategic reserves with smuggled Iraqi oil in the weeks before the United States invaded Iraq in March 2003.
The illicit oil exports took place outside the Iraq oil-for-food program, which the United Nations administered from 1996 to 2003. While allegations of corruption and mismanagement in that program are under investigation by five congressional committees, the Justice Department and a U.N.-appointed panel, the illicit oil exports outside the program have received less scrutiny. According to investigators, Iraq received more revenue from those exports than from the alleged oil-for-food kickbacks.
"The bulk of [Saddam Hussein's] illicit oil sale revenues actually came from the money he received from unregulated sales of Iraqi oil, entirely outside of the oil-for-food program, primarily to Turkey, Jordan and Syria," Levin said at a hearing Tuesday on the U.N. management of Iraqi oil revenue. "We and the rest of the world looked the other way from those sales even though they were prohibited by the U.N. sanctions regime."
Levin disclosed Tuesday an e-mail describing how a Jordanian company, Millennium for the Trade of Raw Materials & Mineral Oils, sought approval from a U.S.-led international naval fleet to ship oil from an unauthorized Persian Gulf terminal at Khor al-Amaya. But the latest document reveals that Odin Marine Inc., a Stamford, Conn.-based shipping broker hired by Millennium to charter oil tankers, obtained a green light from officials at the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control.
“WASHINGTON - Houston's BayOil (USA) was the "puppeteer" in a scheme to help Russian politicians profit illegally from the United Nations' oil-for-food program and pay kickbacks to Saddam Hussein's regime, Senate investigators say.
The Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations contends the trading firm, led by Houston's David Chalmers Jr., played a key role in helping Saddam curry favor with Russian leaders. At the time, Saddam was trying to win friends on the U.N. Security Council.
"They are involved in Iraqi oil from soup to nuts," a Senate investigator said.
In a pair of reports, Senate investigators say BayOil helped anti-Western Russian politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the Russian Presidential Council and Russian President Vladimir Putin's own Unity Party illegally earn millions by circumventing U.N. rules.
The subcommittee's allegations come one month after a federal jury in New York accused Chalmers and his colleague Ludmil Dionissiev — both of Houston — as well as BayOil trader John Irving of London of scheming with Baghdad to fix oil prices and pay millions in kickbacks to Saddam's regime.
Under the program, the United Nations was supposed to retain control of the oil proceeds. But U.N. officials allowed Saddam to select who could buy his crude.
One of his preferred customers, the subcommittee said, was Zhirinovsky.
Many of these initial allocation-holders had no experience in the oil business but would sell their rights to the crude, charging from 3 to 30 cents per barrel.
"These guys are making a bundle," an investigator said. "So Saddam decides: 'I want some of that money.' "
Saddam demanded that his allocation-holders pay kickbacks ranging from 10 cents a barrel to 30 cents for crude destined for the United States.
Federal prosecutors allege BayOil officials paid inflated commissions to help the initial allocation-holders secretly pay the kickbacks and still turn a profit.
Sucks to be Norm Coleman.
"Senator, I am not now, nor have I ever been, an oil trader. and neither has anyone on my behalf. I have never seen a barrel of oil, owned one, bought one, sold one - and neither has anyone on my behalf.
"Now I know that standards have slipped in the last few years in Washington, but for a lawyer you are remarkably cavalier with any idea of justice. I am here today but last week you already found me guilty. You traduced my name around the world without ever having asked me a single question, without ever having contacted me, without ever written to me or telephoned me, without any attempt to contact me whatsoever. And you call that justice.
"Now I want to deal with the pages that relate to me in this dossier and I want to point out areas where there are - let's be charitable and say errors. Then I want to put this in the context where I believe it ought to be. On the very first page of your document about me you assert that I have had 'many meetings' with Saddam Hussein. This is false.
"I have had two meetings with Saddam Hussein, once in 1994 and once in August of 2002. By no stretch of the English language can that be described as "many meetings" with Saddam Hussein.
"As a matter of fact, I have met Saddam Hussein exactly the same number of times as Donald Rumsfeld met him. The difference is Donald Rumsfeld met him to sell him guns and to give him maps the better to target those guns. I met him to try and bring about an end to sanctions, suffering and war, and on the second of the two occasions, I met him to try and persuade him to let Dr Hans Blix and the United Nations weapons inspectors back into the country - a rather better use of two meetings with Saddam Hussein than your own Secretary of State for Defence made of his.
"I was an opponent of Saddam Hussein when British and Americans governments and businessmen were selling him guns and gas. I used to demonstrate outside the Iraqi embassy when British and American officials were going in and doing commerce.
"You will see from the official parliamentary record, Hansard, from the 15th March 1990 onwards, voluminous evidence that I have a rather better record of opposition to Saddam Hussein than you do and than any other member of the British or American governments do.
"Now you say in this document, you quote a source, you have the gall to quote a source, without ever having asked me whether the allegation from the source is true, that I am 'the owner of a company which has made substantial profits from trading in Iraqi oil'.
"Senator, I do not own any companies, beyond a small company whose entire purpose, whose sole purpose, is to receive the income from my journalistic earnings from my employer, Associated Newspapers, in London. I do not own a company that's been trading in Iraqi oil. And you have no business to carry a quotation, utterly unsubstantiated and false, implying otherwise.
"Now you have nothing on me, Senator, except my name on lists of names from Iraq, many of which have been drawn up after the installation of your puppet government in Baghdad. If you had any of the letters against me that you had against Zhirinovsky, and even Pasqua, they would have been up there in your slideshow for the members of your committee today.
"You have my name on lists provided to you by the Duelfer inquiry, provided to him by the convicted bank robber, and fraudster and conman Ahmed Chalabi who many people to their credit in your country now realise played a decisive role in leading your country into the disaster in Iraq.
"There were 270 names on that list originally. That's somehow been filleted down to the names you chose to deal with in this committee. Some of the names on that committee included the former secretary to his Holiness Pope John Paul II, the former head of the African National Congress Presidential office and many others who had one defining characteristic in common: they all stood against the policy of sanctions and war which you vociferously prosecuted and which has led us to this disaster.
"You quote Mr Dahar Yassein Ramadan. Well, you have something on me, I've never met Mr Dahar Yassein Ramadan. Your sub-committee apparently has. But I do know that he's your prisoner, I believe he's in Abu Ghraib prison. I believe he is facing war crimes charges, punishable by death. In these circumstances, knowing what the world knows about how you treat prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison, in Bagram Airbase, in Guantanamo Bay, including I may say, British citizens being held in those places.
"I'm not sure how much credibility anyone would put on anything you manage to get from a prisoner in those circumstances. But you quote 13 words from Dahar Yassein Ramadan whom I have never met. If he said what he said, then he is wrong.
"And if you had any evidence that I had ever engaged in any actual oil transaction, if you had any evidence that anybody ever gave me any money, it would be before the public and before this committee today because I agreed with your Mr Greenblatt [Mark Greenblatt, legal counsel on the committee].
"Your Mr Greenblatt was absolutely correct. What counts is not the names on the paper, what counts is where's the money. Senator? Who paid me hundreds of thousands of dollars of money? The answer to that is nobody. And if you had anybody who ever paid me a penny, you would have produced them today.
"Now you refer at length to a company names in these documents as Aredio Petroleum. I say to you under oath here today: I have never heard of this company, I have never met anyone from this company. This company has never paid a penny to me and I'll tell you something else: I can assure you that Aredio Petroleum has never paid a single penny to the Mariam Appeal Campaign. Not a thin dime. I don't know who Aredio Petroleum are, but I daresay if you were to ask them they would confirm that they have never met me or ever paid me a penny.
"Whilst I'm on that subject, who is this senior former regime official that you spoke to yesterday? Don't you think I have a right to know? Don't you think the Committee and the public have a right to know who this senior former regime official you were quoting against me interviewed yesterday actually is?
"Now, one of the most serious of the mistakes you have made in this set of documents is, to be frank, such a schoolboy howler as to make a fool of the efforts that you have made. You assert on page 19, not once but twice, that the documents that you are referring to cover a different period in time from the documents covered by The Daily Telegraph which were a subject of a libel action won by me in the High Court in England late last year.
"You state that The Daily Telegraph article cited documents from 1992 and 1993 whilst you are dealing with documents dating from 2001. Senator, The Daily Telegraph's documents date identically to the documents that you were dealing with in your report here. None of The Daily Telegraph's documents dealt with a period of 1992, 1993. I had never set foot in Iraq until late in 1993 - never in my life. There could possibly be no documents relating to Oil-for-Food matters in 1992, 1993, for the Oil-for-Food scheme did not exist at that time.
"And yet you've allocated a full section of this document to claiming that your documents are from a different era to the Daily Telegraph documents when the opposite is true. Your documents and the Daily Telegraph documents deal with exactly the same period.
"But perhaps you were confusing the Daily Telegraph action with the Christian Science Monitor. The Christian Science Monitor did indeed publish on its front pages a set of allegations against me very similar to the ones that your committee have made. They did indeed rely on documents which started in 1992, 1993. These documents were unmasked by the Christian Science Monitor themselves as forgeries.
"Now, the neo-con websites and newspapers in which you're such a hero, senator, were all absolutely cock-a-hoop at the publication of the Christian Science Monitor documents, they were all absolutely convinced of their authenticity. They were all absolutely convinced that these documents showed me receiving $10 million from the Saddam regime. And they were all lies.
"In the same week as the Daily Telegraph published their documents against me, the Christian Science Monitor published theirs which turned out to be forgeries and the British newspaper, Mail on Sunday, purchased a third set of documents which also upon forensic examination turned out to be forgeries. So there's nothing fanciful about this. Nothing at all fanciful about it.
"The existence of forged documents implicating me in commercial activities with the Iraqi regime is a proven fact. It's a proven fact that these forged documents existed and were being circulated amongst right-wing newspapers in Baghdad and around the world in the immediate aftermath of the fall of the Iraqi regime.
"Now, Senator, I gave my heart and soul to oppose the policy that you promoted. I gave my political life's blood to try to stop the mass killing of Iraqis by the sanctions on Iraq which killed one million Iraqis, most of them children, most of them died before they even knew that they were Iraqis, but they died for no other reason other than that they were Iraqis with the misfortune to born at that time. I gave my heart and soul to stop you committing the disaster that you did commit in invading Iraq. And I told the world that your case for the war was a pack of lies.
“I told the world that Iraq, contrary to your claims did not have weapons of mass destruction. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to al-Qaeda. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to the atrocity on 9/11 2001. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that the Iraqi people would resist a British and American invasion of their country and that the fall of Baghdad would not be the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning.
"Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong and 100,000 people paid with their lives; 1600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies; 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled forever on a pack of lies.
If the world had listened to Kofi Annan, whose dismissal you demanded, if the world had listened to President Chirac who you want to paint as some kind of corrupt traitor, if the world had listened to me and the anti-war movement in Britain, we would not be in the disaster that we are in today. Senator, this is the mother of all smokescreens. You are trying to divert attention from the crimes that you supported, from the theft of billions of dollars of Iraq's wealth.
"Have a look at the real Oil-for-Food scandal. Have a look at the 14 months you were in charge of Baghdad, the first 14 months when $8.8 billion of Iraq's wealth went missing on your watch. Have a look at Haliburton and other American corporations that stole not only Iraq's money, but the money of the American taxpayer.
"Have a look at the oil that you didn't even meter, that you were shipping out of the country and selling, the proceeds of which went who knows where? Have a look at the $800 million you gave to American military commanders to hand out around the country without even counting it or weighing it.
"Have a look at the real scandal breaking in the newspapers today, revealed in the earlier testimony in this committee. That the biggest sanctions busters were not me or Russian politicians or French politicians. The real sanctions busters were your own companies with the connivance of your own Government."”
“US 'backed illegal Iraqi oil deals'
In fact, the Senate report found that US oil purchases accounted for 52% of the kickbacks paid to the regime in return for sales of cheap oil - more than the rest of the world put together.
"The United States was not only aware of Iraqi oil sales which violated UN sanctions and provided the bulk of the illicit money Saddam Hussein obtained from circumventing UN sanctions," the report said. "On occasion, the United States actually facilitated the illicit oil sales.
The report is likely to ease pressure from conservative Republicans on Kofi Annan to resign from his post as UN secretary general.
Yesterday's report makes two principal allegations against the Bush administration. Firstly, it found the US treasury failed to take action against a Texas oil company, Bayoil, which facilitated payment of "at least $37m in illegal surcharges to the Hussein regime".
In its second main finding, the report said the US military and the state department gave a tacit green light for shipments of nearly 8m barrels of oil bought by Jordan, a vital American ally, entirely outside the UN-monitored Oil For Food system. Jordan was permitted to buy some oil directly under strict conditions but these purchases appeared to be under the counter.
The Jordanian oil purchases were shipped in the weeks before the war, out of the Iraqi port of Khor al-Amaya, which was operating without UN approval or surveillance.
Investigators found correspondence showing that Odin Marine Inc, the US company chartering the seven huge tankers which picked up the oil at Khor al-Amaya, repeatedly sought and received approval from US military and civilian officials that the ships would not be confiscated by US Navy vessels in the Maritime Interdiction Force (MIF) enforcing the embargo.
Odin was reassured by a state department official that the US "was aware of the shipments and has determined not to take action".
“I hadn't read the hole Galloway transcript. He really nailed those guys. If facts bear him out, will he get an apology?”
“So, what do you say guys? Between the US, Germany, France, Russia, and all the other countries involved in this scandal, I think we have enough proof the UN is a scam and should be abolished, and we should never pay them another red cent.
Who's with me?
Boycott the UN !!”
“I think we're better off trying to get ride of the corruption in the UN rather than dissolving it.”
“You think that's possible?
Look at the corruption in just our government alone.
How are you going to get rid of the corruption in the UN?
Also, why? If the UN is so corrupt, why try to fix it? What's the point? They don't do anything they're designed to do anyways. Why not scrap them and start from scratch if you have a noble uniting goal of some sort in mind.”
“Why not scrap them and start from scratch if you have a noble uniting goal of some sort in mind
For the same reason we don't do the same with this country’s government.”
“Leave the un alone!
Damn neocon bush wants to take over the world!
If france and the un go down bush will win.
“For the same reason we don't do the same with this country’s government.
Really? And why is that?”
“I took Saddam's cash, admits French envoy
By Francis Harris in Washington and David Rennie in Brussels
One of France's most distinguished diplomats has confessed to an investigating judge that he accepted oil allocations from Saddam Hussein, it emerged yesterday.
Jean-Bernard Mérimée is thought to be the first senior figure to admit his role in the oil-for-food scandal, a United Nations humanitarian aid scheme hijacked by Saddam to buy influence.
The Frenchman, who holds the title "ambassador for life", told authorities that he regretted taking payments amounting to $156,000 (then worth about £108,000) in 2002.
The money was used to renovate a holiday home he owned in southern Morocco. At the time, Mr Mérimée was a special adviser to Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general.
According to yesterday's Le Figaro, he told judge Philippe Courroye during an interview on Oct 12: "I should not have done what I did. I regret it."
But he also said that the payments were made in recompense for work he had done on Iraq's behalf. "All trouble is worth a wage," he is reported to have said.
No decisions have been announced about possible criminal charges against Mr Mérimée. He told the judge that he did not declare the income to the tax authorities, according to Le Figaro.
George Galloway, the Respect MP, has been accused of accepting similar payments by investigators working for the UN and the US Senate, but has denied that he accepted any benefit.
So far, the only top figure to have acknowledged that he was offered such oil allocations was Rolf Ekeus, the former head of the UN inspection team that uncovered some of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction in the 1990s. Mr Ekeus, a famously strait-laced Swede, laughed off the offer.
Mr Mérimée, who was French ambassador to Australia, Italy, India and the UN, told the judge that after he was retired by the French foreign ministry he began working for a Moroccan bank, BMCE. It was owed large sums by Saddam's regime.
In 1999, he flew to Baghdad to discuss repayment and met Tariq Aziz, the deputy prime minister, who offered to use oil-for-food money.
But that idea was swiftly rejected by BCME's president, who said any such deal would provoke American wrath.
Instead, the Frenchman said he decided to go into business "on his own behalf".
He added: "Tariq Aziz recognised the interest I had taken in Iraq, and the advice I had given him."
The ambassador said the French authorities had known of his every move.
France has been gravely embarrassed by oil-for-food allegations against senior figures, including Charles Pasqua, the former interior minister. He has denied receiving any benefit from the oil allocations issued in his name.
Inquiries have also found that French firms benefited disproportionately from oil-for-food contracts as part of an Iraqi policy to influence French votes on the UN Security Council.
Supporters of President George W Bush accuse France of putting its foreign policy up for sale and opposing the invasion of Iraq for commercial reasons. That has been fiercely denied in Paris.
Mr Mérimée did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Telegraph.”
“More evidence the needed "unilateral agreement" to invade Iraq was a joke!
March 23, 2006 — Following are the ABC News Investigative Unit's summaries of seven documents from Saddam Hussein's government, which the U.S. government has released.
The documents discuss Osama bin Laden, weapons of mass destruction, al Qaeda and more.
The full documents can be found on the U.S. Army Foreign Military Studies Office Web site: http://fmso.leavenworth.army.mil/products-docex.htm.
Note: Document titles were added by ABC News.
"U.S. War Plan Leaked to Iraqis by Russian Ambassador"
Two Iraqi documents from March 2003 — on the eve of the U.S.-led invasion — and addressed to the secretary of Saddam Hussein, describe details of a U.S. plan for war. According to the documents, the plan was disclosed to the Iraqis by the Russian ambassador.
Document written sometime before March 5, 2003
The first document (CMPC-2003-001950) is a handwritten account of a meeting with the Russian ambassador that details his description of the composition, size, location and type of U.S. military forces arrayed in the Gulf and Jordan. The document includes the exact numbers of tanks, armored vehicles, different types of aircraft, missiles, helicopters, aircraft carriers, and other forces, and also includes their exact locations. The ambassador also described the positions of two Special Forces units.
Document dated March 25, 2003
The second document (CMPC-2004-001117) is a typed account, signed by Deputy Foreign Minister Hammam Abdel Khaleq, that states that the Russian ambassador has told the Iraqis that the United States was planning to deploy its force into Iraq from Basra in the South and up the Euphrates, and would avoid entering major cities on the way to Baghdad, which is, in fact what happened. The documents also state "Americans are also planning on taking control of the oil fields in Kirkuk." The information was obtained by the Russians from "sources at U.S. Central Command in Doha, Qatar," according to the document.
This document also includes an account of an amusing incident in which several Iraqi Army officers (presumably seeking further elaboration of the U.S. war plans) contacted the Russian Embassy in Baghdad and stated that the ambassador was their source. Needless to say, this caused great embarrassment to the ambassador, and the officers were instructed "not to mention the ambassador again in that context."
(Editor's Note: The Russian ambassador in March 2003 was Vladimir Teterenko. Teterenko appears in documents released by the Volker Commission, which investigated the Oil for Food scandal, as receiving allocations of 3 million barrels of oil — worth roughly $1.5 million. )”
“Can't understand the link between your headline and the article. Did you mean "multilateral"?
Does anyone know if the Russians were briefed on US plans or if they got the details through espionage?”
“Can't understand the link between your headline and the article. Did you mean "multilateral"?
Does anyone know if the Russians were briefed on US plans or if they got the details through espionage?”
“Thanks for clarification - it makes sense with "multilateral."
On the second question, a new news story suggests otherwise:
Post a MessageIn order to post a response to this thread you must first be logged in. If you do not already have an account, you must first create a new account.
Ready to Buy Gear?
Great Outdoor Sites