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January 30, 2005

Comments

Do you have any evidence that Kofi Annan was stonewalling the investigation?

One thing that has consistently puzzled me about Republicans calling for a full investigation on the Oil-for-Food scandal: why do they want to see Dick Cheney, CEO of Halliburton during the years Halliburton was into Oil-for-Food so enthusiastically, investigated for his corporation's involvement in what these Republicans see as very shady activity?

And, if these Republicans think Dick Cheney is a vile criminal who ought to be investigated, why were they supporting his candidacy as Vice President?

However, snide comments about Cheney aside (when we're talking about financial corruption, he and Halliburtion are such easy targets) the fact is that the right-wing attacks on the UN via Oil for Food have been both biased and context-free. For example:

Several different UN agencies provided expertise, service delivery and monitoring once Oil for Food was finally implemented in March 1997, including UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the World Food Program, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the UN Development Program. When the program was formally terminated in November 2003, $31 billion of humanitarian aid had been delivered, primarily food and medicine, but also items for water and sewage treatment, electricity production, transportation and agriculture. Within the narrow strictures of the sanctions regime, the Oil for Food program accomplished a great deal, according to statistics kept by these agencies and independent observers. Between 1997 and 2002, the nutritional value of the food basket distributed monthly by the program almost doubled, from 1,200 calories per person per day to about 2,200. The incidence of communicable diseases, including cholera and malaria, was cut down substantially. Electricity became more reliable, as did the availability of potable water. Despite these gains, sanctions continued to take a toll.

In the late 1990s and the early days of the current Bush administration, most of the debate over Oil for Food focused on its limitations as a remedy for Iraq's humanitarian crisis. Today's spotlight on alleged corruption in the program, in addition to being tinged with reflexive right-wing hostility to the UN, reveals the collective amnesia about the effects of the economic sanctions that made Oil for Food necessary in the first place. cite

It's certain that bribery was involved in Oil for Food: Halliburton, which profited by it, would have been one of the companies that gave bribes. It's acknowledged, however, that bribery is a fact of doing business in many countries: it shouldn't be regarded as an automatic sign of depravity.

The "evidence" that anything more was involved comes from Ahmed Chalabi. Would anyone like to take a bet that it's about as reliable as any other information provided by Chalabi - especially as he has refused to let anyone see the documents that supposedly prove the existence of this scandal?

"President Bush should forward a no-confidence vote on Annan's leadership straight away."

Maybe Rice should give a presentation to the Security Council. You know, like the one Colin Powell gave on Saddam's WMD.

We've known about Kofi's son's potential involvement for almost a year now, CB; this isn't the news you're making it out to be. I note, however, that you haven't addressed the points that a) almost all the information on the Oil For Food scandal came from Chalabi, and b) after the original problems were fixed most of the monies allegedly stolen were diverted at the behest of the US and US companies.

[And hey, if you're so virulently opposed to leaders covering their son's asses -- as well you should be -- can we retroactively impeach the first President Bush?]

I have to admire conservative dedication to the corruption that was the Iraqi sanctions program. All through the 90s, it was all I could hear from the right wing: "UN sanctions are corrupt! Starving children in Iraq!" I could barely get to campus without Bill Kristol and Charles Krauthammer mobbing the mail room with photocopied posters of malaria-ridden Iraqi toddlers and chants of "No Justice, No Peace!" You know how it's like with these idealist types, though: after a while I just got desensitized. By the time Fred Barnes set himself on fire on the White House lawn in '99 under the homemade No Iraqi Genocide sign I didn't feel a thing.

How much longer should we sit by and passively accept the status quo on this decrepit international body and a leader with no moral authority?

You mean the United States of America and George Bush of course.

We? I thought we didn't dive a flying fig about the UN? We don't need their stinkin' permission slip for nuttin; what do we care what their principal, er Sec-Gen, does? [/snark]

On a serious note, I do think the UN and its agencies should be above reproach; but it's not seemly for the US to be calling for an audit now, being so involved in the scandal itself. Let another country/countries do an investigation.

The merits of the accusation aside, if indeed we did want to contest his leadership the 'diplomatic' thing to do (though the Bush administration may have to have someone look that up in a dictionary) would be to quietly suggest to a country with more UN credibility to spearhead the effort. Any accusations by the US would likely be met with snores.

Any accusations by the US would likely be met with snores.

Probably, but if we cut our funding until the UN investigation was open to Congressional oversight. Well.

Timmy: Probably, but if we cut our funding until the UN investigation was open to Congressional oversight. Well.

Well, it would look rather suspicious, since Dick Cheney is one of the suspects in Oil for Food, and he's also President of the Senate. It's not good practice to allow one of the people being investigated to preside over the body that is overseeing the investigation.

Yes Timmy, that would be very diplomatic. See, that word comes up again.

Yes, sidereal, if the UN Oil for Food Program is all about diplomacy, why investigate.

Jess, LoL on the man from Natrona County.

Timmy: LoL on the man from Natrona County.

My guess is this comment means something like "it's absurd to think that Dick Cheney needs to be investigated, even though he was CEO of Halliburton when Halliburton was into Oil for Food up to its corporate neck."

But that's just a guess. I really don't know. Anyone else got a TtWD translator?

Anyone else got a TtWD translator?

That presumes there's content there to be translated...

'slac, the cite you provide comes from an outfit that consults for and supports the UN. Nonetheless, there's no doubt OFF did some good. But that doesn't mean the major corruption apparently involved should be overlooked. I'll be happy to see a full, open investigation and audit of OFF, whether the finger of guilt points to Annan, Halliburton (which you seem to have a bit of a fixation on), George Galloway, Megawati Sukarnoputri or whomever. You should be, too. And if the investigation points to corruption within the UN, those responsible should be fired and criminally prosecuted, whatever their status. The right may be doing the shooting, but the UN's supplying all the ammo.

"On a serious note, I do think the UN and its agencies should be above reproach; but it's not seemly for the US to be calling for an audit now, being so involved in the scandal itself. Let another country/countries do an investigation."

None of the other major players care enough about corruption in the UN to bother with an investigation. In fact some, and if I'm naming names they are France and Russia, are almost certainly quite happy with high levels of corruption in the UN.

"...Halliburton when Halliburton was into Oil for Food up to its corporate neck."

Strangely enough I haven't heard any word that Halliburton was engaged in wrongdoing with the Oil for Food Program. Where did you get that impression?

Perhaps the noble member 'Iraq' can call for an investigation.

So Anarch, you've never been to Wyoming, I see.

And Jes, if you have some info on Haliburton, an oil service company and the UN Oil for Food Program, please share it. BTW, as Dick sits on no committees, I don't see the conflict in Senate and there is no conflict in the House.

That presumes there's content there to be translated...

True. ;-)

So Anarch, you've never been to Wyoming, I see.

You presume incorrectly.

BTW, as Dick sits on no committees, I don't see the conflict in Senate...

You're aware that he's the President of the Senate, right?

Sebastian: Strangely enough I haven't heard any word that Halliburton was engaged in wrongdoing with the Oil for Food Program.

Strangely enough, I've seen no evidence that anyone was involved in wrongdoing with the Oil for Food Program - it's all locked up in Ahmed Chalabi's files. (Wrongdoing beyond bribery, that is: I doubt if anyone who did business in Iraq - as Halliburton, under Dick Cheney, energetically did - is free of bribery.)

You don't protest Charles Bird's unevidenced claims, however - why's that?

Anarch: You're aware that he's the President of the Senate, right?

He ought to be - I pointed it out to him in my comment at 05:01 PM, which he responded to (albeit rather incoherently and incomprehensibly) at 05:05 PM.

You're aware that he's the President of the Senate, right?

Well yes but he has "no control" except to break tie votes.

And Anarch, you're aware that the Congress has two houses?

Anarch, next time you are in the state just ask anybody, they all know him, where Dick is from and you will have you answer.

Timmy: And Anarch, you're aware that the Congress has two houses?

You didn't suggest that the US should blackmail the UN into allowing the House of Representatives to oversee the Oil for Food investigation, though, did you? Your suggestion was that blackmail should be applied to allow Congress to oversee the Oil for Food investigation: with the person who was CEO of Halliburton at the time when Halliburton was into Oil for Food with the ultimate responsibility for overseeing the investigation.

Not only undiplomatic, but not good practice, either.

Anarch, next time you are in the state just ask anybody, they all know him, where Dick is from and you will have you answer.

Ah yes, it's back to reading comprehension 101. I didn't say I didn't understand your referent, Timmy, I implied that your remark lacked content. There's a subtle yet profound difference there, one which I'm sure a gentleman -- excuse me, Wonder Dog -- of your obvious intellect can ascertain.

Jes, please see Congress is structured and then you will understand Dick isn't responsible for anything.

'slac said:
it's all locked up in Ahmed Chalabi's files.

Are you truly unaware of Paul Volker's OFF investigation?

I doubt if anyone who did business in Iraq - as Halliburton, under Dick Cheney, energetically did - is free of bribery.

If that's the sum of your evidence of Halliburton's participation in the OFF scandal, I'm sorry I paid as much attention as I did.

'syl: Are you truly unaware of Paul Volker's OFF investigation?

Were you truly unaware of this?

According to diplomats and the Web site, American firms that have done business with Iraq, directly or through subsidiaries, include such petroleum industry giants as Halliburton, the world's largest oil field service company; Schlumberger, the second largest oil field servicer; the Fisher-Rosemount unit of Emerson Electric Co. in St. Louis; the Hamilton Sundstrand unit of United Technologies in Windsor Locks, Conn.; and Baker Hughes Inc. of Houston. cite, from February 2000

Cheney's done deals with Iraq under Oil For Food. Why are Republicans so reluctant to argue that his involvement with the corruption they claim for the program ought to be investigated?

I didn't understand your referent

I don't know what a referent is but I'm not an academic.

Tomysl puts it better, I'm sorry I paid as much attention as I did.

Quoted without comment:

Timmy: then you will understand Dick [Cheney] isn't responsible for anything.

...ok, one little comment. LOL! It'd be so cute if it weren't so frightening.

There is a difference in doing business with Iraq as compared to getting money under the table under the auspices of the UN Oil For Food Program.

Haliburton (and Schlumberger a French firm) have certain drilling technologies that you can only get from them.

Dick [Cheney] isn't responsible for anything."

He's irresponsible for everything.

Anarch, you got it right (a miracle), VP, except for tie votes in the Senate, has no responsibilities, a lonely job.

Getting back to the main topic of conversation: could those on the right who think there's substance to the Oil For Food scandal -- I'm looking particularly at BD here, simply because it's his post, although Sebastian might know this as well -- tell me what evidence for the scandal exists that did not come from Chalabi and the INC? I've been trying to figure this out since the "scandal" (scare quotes most definitely intended) broke last year, but I can't find any clear, reliable secondary sources on the matter. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

google, CLAUDIA ROSETT and UN Oil For Food Program, which should give plenty of info.

Timmy: There is a difference in doing business with Iraq as compared to getting money under the table under the auspices of the UN Oil For Food Program.

And what investigation, exactly, has cleared Halliburton from the suspicion of getting money under the table from the UN Oil For Food Program? After all, given that Cheney was CEO then and is Vice President now, it's important for him to be cleared of criminal involvement... isn't it? Especially as Bird and Dog appear to think that the Bush/Cheney administration ought to be pushing to run an investigation into this criminal activity.

Jes, I believe I said Congress should investigate. I don't believe we can prosecute given certain treaties we executed, thus the executive is limited in the actions they can take.

I don't know what a referent is but I'm not an academic.
and
Anarch, you got it right (a miracle)

Guys, I'd give Timmy some space, he's off his game, as he usually doesn't do personal insults, and usually doesn't drop into the 'I'm just folks' mode. Don't worry, though, I'm sure he'll be in tar-baby form in no time.

Being an academic, I can't really do much but cite other people, so I'll just repost what Sebastian wrote in the Pro Torture thread

In my opinion TimmytheWonderDog is playing a game. He is seeing how much he can get away with without getting banned. I don't approve of the game at all. I think it is disruptive and unhelpful. But you are making it too easy for him. I suspect that if you ignore his provocations one of three things will happen.

1) He calms down and becomes a productive commentor. This is my most preferred outcome.

2) He escalates and I ban him.

3) He continues at a medium level and we eventually have to decide whether or not it is worth it to ban him for being a generally disruptive influence.

Since we have so many people who are pretty good with math here, could someone give me some odds for the three possibilities?

Timmy: I believe I said Congress should investigate.

You did. And you never explained (except by saying that you think Cheney isn't responsible for anything) why it's okay for one of the subjects of the investigation to preside over the senior House that you think ought to be doing the investigating.

liberaljaponicus: Since we have so many people who are pretty good with math here, could someone give me some odds for the three possibilities?

I'd love to, but I think that speculation would constitute a breach of the posting rules.

This is a silly thread on a silly topic: given that, I don't think TtWD's comments have been as out of place or as disruptive as they have been on other threads.

Since we have so many people who are pretty good with math here, could someone give me some odds for the three possibilities?

Perhaps, but you're overlooking the Heisenbergian element here.* The act of observation -- more specifically, the act of openly observing -- will change the dynamic being observed. Were we to disclose our predictions, the feedback loop thus enabled could allow him to alter his course, thereby rendering our predictions null and void. If only we could arrange for his posts to commute with our predictions... Ah well. 'Tis but a dream within a dream.

That said, I'd put money on #3.

* Not that I'm still pissed at NUMB3RS or anything.

Actually LJ, with the election and all, I've been off of my game here, just a little give and take and some levity here.

Obviously, something else has upset you today, I truely hope it wasn't the election.

As for the math and after performing a null hypothesis, my quess is that you will see less of me, simply reflecting that history has been made this Sunday in Iraq; combined with the fact that my annual newsletter will start taking up more of my time over the next several months, Eddie has to arrange a party for Ken White and myself (Eddie is buying, I'm bringing the cigars), and along with the other startup I'm working on.

Somehow I don't think you will miss me. When you start discussing the Iraqi Constitution I will probably be back in full force along with my smile.

Anarch: Perhaps, but you're overlooking the Heisenbergian element here.

It's what I think Helene Hanff called "Sullivan's Law" - "if you predict three possibilities, what will actually happen will be a fourth possibility you hadn't considered".

Sebastian predicted three options: Timmy mends his ways, Timmy escalates his behavior and is banned, Timmy continues (as now) to be a low-grade nuisance.

Fourth option: Timmy goes off to be a low-grade nuisance somewhere else.

And you never explained (except by saying that you think Cheney isn't responsible for anything) why it's okay for one of the subjects of the investigation to preside over the senior House that you think ought to be doing the investigating.

It's OK, Jes -- it's not like he ever shows up!

Jes, please see Congress is structured and then you will understand Dick isn't responsible for anything.

Frankly, "Bush/Cheney '04: We're Not Responsible For Anything*" should've been their campaign slogan. And as someone who carried their water for 2-3 years, it pisses me off as much as anyone.


*"Except the good stuff!"

Phil: Frankly, "Bush/Cheney '04: We're Not Responsible For Anything*" should've been their campaign slogan.

I kinda liked Don't change Horsemen mid-Apocalypse: Bush/Cheney 2004, myself.

It's OK, Jes -- it's not like he ever shows up!

I was going to make that joke myself, Phil, but I decided it was too obvious.

...glad someone did, though ;)

Why are Republicans so reluctant to argue that his involvement with the corruption they claim for the program ought to be investigated?

Read my post of 10:17 PM.

5:17pm, tomsyl?

Read my post of 10:17 PM.

Actually, it's listed here as 5:17 PM... but aside from that, okay, I take your point, and amend my comment:

Why are so many Republicans so reluctant to argue that Cheney's involvement with the corruption they claim for the program ought to be investigated?

The comment timestamps are in a different time zone in preview...

Aha! Proof that tomsyl lives in Greenwich.

Proof that tomsyl lives in Greenwich.

Odd place to find a Republican.

Obviously, something else has upset you today, I truely hope it wasn't the election

Sorry if my attempt to answer Slarti's call for the Disraeliesque encouraged your belief that my happiness (or the happiness of anyone else who comments here) is in inverse relation to the situation in Iraq. Just to ease your mind, things are fine (but cold) here in the land of Wa. And, as a last stab at a Disraeli like rejoinder, I will just note that I am sure your newsletter will fill a well needed gap...

I'd also note that tomsyl could be living in Accra or Dijibouti or...

Can We Fire Kofi Annan Now?

Funny, for some reason I thought this post was about Kofi Annan at the U.N. Conveniently it has been turned into one about Cheney. But, since it's about Cheney and it comes from the left, I guess at ObWi that really isn't a thread jack. We must keep our double standards in place.

Hey, but Smlook can:

Anatomy of a thread jack

"Oil-for-Food scandal: why do they want to see Dick Cheney,"

"And, if these Republicans think Dick Cheney is a vile criminal who ought to be investigated, why were they supporting his candidacy as Vice President?"

"My guess is this comment means something like "it's absurd to think that Dick Cheney needs to be investigated, even though he was CEO of Halliburton when Halliburton was into Oil for Food up to its corporate neck."

"Well, it would look rather suspicious, since Dick Cheney is one of the suspects in Oil for Food, and he's also President of the Senate."

"doubt if anyone who did business in Iraq - as Halliburton, under Dick Cheney, energetically did - is free of bribery."

"Cheney's done deals with Iraq under Oil For Food. Why are Republicans so reluctant to argue that his involvement with the corruption they claim for the program ought to be investigated?"

"After all, given that Cheney was CEO then and is Vice President now, it's important for him to be cleared of criminal involvement... isn't it?"

"I kinda liked Don't change Horsemen mid-Apocalypse: Bush/Cheney 2004, myself."

"Why are so many Republicans so reluctant to argue that Cheney's involvement with the corruption they claim for the program ought to be investigated?"


Maybe, because the thread was about Kofi Annan???

All those evil republican/conservatives who always defend their position by changing the subject... ha ha ha

Smlook, the question Bird asked was "Can We Fire Kofi Annan Now?" which he followed up with "President Bush should forward a no-confidence vote on Annan's leadership straight away."

Until Cheney has been publicly cleared of any connection with the Oil for Food scandal (and given that he was CEO of Halliburton, which did extensive business with Iraq under the OfF program, he is an appropriate target for investigation), it would be highly unwise of the Bush/Cheney administration to demand that anyone implicated in OfF ought to step down or be fired.

The connection seemed obvious to me. However, if you prefer to discuss Kofi Annan, don't let me stop you. You don't seem to have a lot to say about him so far.

Is trifling with my timestamps a violation of the posting rules?

Actually, I live in Sandwich - Isles, that is. Swimming pools. Movie Stars. &c.

Help! Help! I'm being repressed!

does the UN actually provide for no confidence votes?

Bloody peasant!

Hopefully, the UN will be overhauled under the watch of a respected American statesman, not George W. Bush.

Timmy's suggestion that the US not pay its dues to the UN would be a lot more threatening if they actually paid them in the first place.

I thought, post-Strom, we had paid a lot of our owed dues.

I'm presuming that since Jesurgislac isn't from America, she is unaware that the The Vice President's function as head of the Senate is almost wholly titular. Its only current major function is that if Cheney is present and there is an exact tie on a vote he can cast the deciding vote. The idea that a senate investigation would be tainted by the fact that Cheney is it titular head doesn't really make sense once you understand that.

As for Halliburton, I've been following the scandal pretty closely, and I haven't heard of anything that suggests they were involved. That doesn't mean they weren't, but at saying that the Oil for Food program had lots of corruption is not the direct equivalent of saying that all who dealt with it were deeply corrupt--a fact that the International Red Cross will probably be very happy to hear. It also wouldn't make a huge amount of sense for Halliburton to be involved in the corruption that we have heard about because the method of bribery makes more sense for those who were involved on the selling side, not the drilling side. The bribes were made possible when Saddam would sell crude at a price below the market so that the recipient of the bribe could immediately sell at the market price for a huge unearned (well unearned by legal means)profit.

Kofi Annan's position looks odd because he ordered his all those who held financial documents pertaining to the case to refuse to turn them over and he manuevered to ensure that Volcker didn't have subpena power to get them. As noted above, his son seems to have gotten huge bribes for his 'work' on the project. It seems to me rather indefensible that the UN won't release its financial records on the project. What are they, defense secrets? I don't think so.

Note that a group of senior (all or almost all I believe) American pro-UN diplomats/statemen met with Annan recently and gave him a private talking-to. Sorry no link. Anyway, there are bipartisan concerns about his leadership. (Though I tend to find the OfF protests somewhat, uhhh, opportunistic, given the UN's scope. E.g. why do I seldom see posts about crooked US companies or posts about the #1-#n money wastes in the US budget [thanks Pentagon]?)

"Though I tend to find the OfF protests somewhat, uhhh, opportunistic, given the UN's scope."

Considering that even if the allegations were only half correct it would still be one of the biggest bribery programs in the history of the modern world, I can't agree.

Timmy's suggestion that the US not pay its dues to the UN would be a lot more threatening if they actually paid them in the first place.

McDuff, I think you will find that we currently pay our dues, in no small part becasue Kofi met with the Congress and promised some changes.

Big compared to the amount of bribery in the Indonesian economy? Anyway, fair point, it's certainly worth discussing, but there's also a wider context (which admittedly was as best I recall discussed at tacitus.org back when I was reading it and people [including CB?] proposed a new organization).

Do you have any evidence that Kofi Annan was stonewalling the investigation?

Kofi's office was behind the hush letters written to UN oil-for-food contractors. Paul Volcker is running the investigation but Kofi did not give him subpoena power.

a) almost all the information on the Oil For Food scandal came from Chalabi, and b) after the original problems were fixed most of the monies allegedly stolen were diverted at the behest of the US and US companies.

As for a), the information obtained by Volcker and company is independent of what Chalabi had. As for b), do you have evidence to support this? US companies played a small role and I've heard nothing about the US behesting anything.

Jes, do you have credible evidence that Halliburton was involved with OFF? Last I heard, there were four American entities involved with OFF, and none of them had the word Halliburton in them.

Kofi did not give him subpoena power.

Can Annan grant subpeona power? I thought that the terms of the UN charter doesn't give the S-G that much in terms of real power.

Stan Chess (En Passant)
http://lawtv.typepad.com/en_passant/2004/a_question_of_l.html writes "Kaplan's Concord School of Law says it's one of the largest law schools in the country, yet for each administration only about 25 of its graduates sit for the bar exam. What happens to the hundreds of other students in each class?"

And, according to the New York Times: Recently, a number of for-profit colleges have faced inquiries, lawsuits and other actions calling into question the way they inflate enrollment to mislead/increase the value of their parent company’s stock.

In the last year, the Career Education Corporation of Hoffman Estates, Ill., has faced lawsuits, from shareholders and students, contending that, among other things, its colleges have inflated enrollment numbers. The company acknowledged that it was under investigation by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In February 2004, F.B.I. agents raided 10 campuses run by ITT Educational Services of Carmel, Ind., looking for similar problems.

Kaplan is wholly own by the Washington Post Company. I provided the S.E.C., Department of Education, and federal courts information that appears to prove Kaplan inflated the Concord School of Law enrollment, telling investors that the “flagship” of its higher education division has as many as 600 to 1000 or more students.

Why didn’t the Justice Department and S.E.C. include Kaplan with their investigation?

Before the USA can judge the UN on the mis-use of funds it needs to account for Bremer's own http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-4766808,00.html>$9 billion screw-up in Iraq.

I think comparing the massive systemic corruption in a place like Indonesia (where there are hundreds of interests being bribed for and against) to the UN program which was corrupted to serve the purposes of Saddam Hussein doesn't parallel as much as you might think. Furthermore, I'm not entirely sure that corruption in Indonesia unless very broadly construed dwarfs the UN corruption in the Food for Palaces scandal.

Bird: Jes, do you have credible evidence that Halliburton was involved with OFF?

Do you have any credible evidence that Kofi Annan has been stonewalling the UN investigation?

Been trying to (unsuccessfully) find a description of the Secretary-General's powers, but I did find this.

That inquiry does not have subpoena power, because the United Nations does not have that power to pass on to Mr. Volcker, but all U.N. staff members have been ordered to cooperate with the inquiry on pain of dismissal. If the inquiry finds evidence of criminal acts by U.N. officials or others, national courts with the right to subpoena will pursue these people. Also, Mr. Annan has said that any U.N. official found guilty of wrongdoing will not be allowed to claim immunity from prosecution.
link

This seems to contradict seb when he wrote

Kofi Annan's position looks odd because he ordered his all those who held financial documents pertaining to the case to refuse to turn them over and he manuevered to ensure that Volcker didn't have subpena power to get them. As noted above, his son seems to have gotten huge bribes for his 'work' on the project. It seems to me rather indefensible that the UN won't release its financial records on the project. What are they, defense secrets? I don't think so.

Also, since both you and Chas have followed this closely, I'm hoping you can point to any problems with these two links

Also, this editorial from over here may be of interest
For the conspiracy minded in the audience, there's this

"Do you have any credible evidence that Kofi Annan has been stonewalling the UN investigation?"

Yes. His office instructed the contractors of the Food for Oil program not to give documents to investigators. In May he refused to turn over the UN internal audits to Congress or the Security Council. He denied that his son was involved in the program. He refused access to the accounts for the program held at the French bank BNP Paribas. He has refused to turn over current and past bank statements on the program to the Iraqi government.

Liberal Japonicus, you quote me on this but don't respond to the question.

"It seems to me rather indefensible that the UN won't release its financial records on the project. What are they, defense secrets? I don't think so."

Kofi Annan could have, at the beginning of the scandal, turned over all financial records held in all banks to the media for scrutiny. In fact, I see no reason why all UN financial records should not be open to the public at all times. They are not, because the UN is a junket-oriented joke that wouldn't survive the real light of day.

They are not, because the UN is a junket-oriented joke that wouldn't survive the real light of day.

Tangentially, I wonder how many businesses that's true of...

I didn't realize that one had to answer every question that you posed before being permitted to ask any. You don't provide any cites (and I haven't spoken to Kofi in ages (-_-)) I do note in one of the cites I provided, the following is mentioned.

Are the Details of Contracts a Secret? No. Oil-for-Food contracts were submitted to the UN for approval via the contractor’s national authority, and these authorities as well as every member of the UN Security Council (including the U.S.) had the power to approve or place a hold on any contract. On November 3, 2003, the UN provided the Coalition Provisional Authority with its entire database of contracts and information. In addition, thousands of contracts were copied to CD-ROM and transferred to Iraqi authorities and the CPA.

As for why the UN doesn't release all of its financial records, I really don't know, so please feel free to ignore any questions I may ask, no matter how politely they are phrased....


Sebastian: His office instructed the contractors of the Food for Oil program not to give documents to investigators.

LiberalJaponicus's comment at January 31, 2005 03:27 AM seems to deal with this claim - can you respond to it?

Got cites for your other assertions?

lj, the original OFF charter provides for a lot of structure, including regular audits of the program by qualified outside auditors (though it doesn't specifically identify who gets access to those audits -- I've never seen anything published from anyone who's claimed to have seen them). It would be interesting to compare the charter to the actuality. But does anyone here truly believe that (i)there wasn't massive fraud and crookery involved in the program, (ii) people within the UN knew about it, and (iii) people within the UN profited from it?

Even if it turns out US firms were involved in the fraud (and I believe four have been named, although at least one is s foreign front), the US wasn't administering the program -- Kofi and his minions were. And the fact that dishonest conduct may play into the hands of UN haters is just tough luck.

This is like the Plame Affaire in reverse -- each day it gets worse instead of going away. A death of a thousand cuts for Kofi.

'syl: But does anyone here truly believe that (i)there wasn't massive fraud and crookery involved in the program, (ii) people within the UN knew about it, and (iii) people within the UN profited from it?

Certainly anyone who still believes in Ahmed Chalabi will believe all of that, yes.

A cite, a cite, my kingdom for a cite...

Tomsyl: This is like the Plame Affaire in reverse -- each day it gets worse instead of going away. A death of a thousand cuts for Kofi.

Actually, I was thinking of the difference in attitude that Republicans are showing to Kofi Annan with regard to Oil for Food... and what they showed to George W. Bush with regard to 9/11.

Of course, the difference is obvious: OfF saved lives, and 9/11 killed over 3000 people.

Yet if there is sufficient evidence to fire Kofi Annan for "stonewalling", there is rather more evidence to impeach George W. Bush for the same "crime".

Odd, isn't it? Collectively, the right-wing blogosphere didn't appear to care about Bush stonewalling the 9/11 investigation. Yet collectively, they're wasting a good deal of bile over a far lesser matter, where there is far less evidence...

Charles, Sebastian:

The links from libral japonicus appear to contradict what you said.

One could of course go to the UN site about the
OfF program inquity to see their answers to some questions. Or to the site of the inquiry self for
briefings and reports.

All the people who are so scandalized about the OfF program must be terribly concerned about the way it has been handled by the US since they took
over.

dutchmarbel, that makes interesting reading. I'm skimming articles randomly and was struck by the last paragraph in Facts in Response to Allegations made on Fox Breaking Point

Fox News notes that the UN “would not do a taped interview for 'Breaking Point'” but conceals the reason why: UN officials have in the past cooperated with Fox only to see their comments grossly distorted through selective editing. Fox also fails to mention that UN officials were quite willing to appear on ‘Breaking Point' live, where they could communicate directly with viewers.
But but but --- Fox news is fair and balanced! [/snark]

Oil for Food: The UN View seems to give a good summation.

Jes,

"Yet if there is sufficient evidence to fire Kofi Annan for "stonewalling", there is rather more evidence to impeach George W. Bush for the same "crime"."

The distraction technique is ineffective. Everyone can see through it.

"it would be highly unwise of the Bush/Cheney administration to demand that anyone implicated in OfF ought to step down or be fired.

The connection seemed obvious to me. "

I guess I was confused. I didn't know Cheney worked for the U.N. and I thought Kofi did.

I guess the fact that the Bush admin is willing to do an investigation speaks to your charges rather well.

dutch,

"One could of course go to the UN site about the
OfF program inquity to see their answers to some questions."

As Jes, might say isn't this the fox guarding the chickens?

"LiberalJaponicus's comment at January 31, 2005 03:27 AM seems to deal with this claim - can you respond to it?"

Arghh, when you want to you can be one of the most uncritical readers I have ever seen. Contractors are not UN officials. Contractors are independent. Annan has instructed the independent contractors that they should reveal the details of their financial dealings with the UN to outside investigators.

A news editorial saying that Annan has instructed UN officials to cooperate on penalty of dismissal (while pre-broadcasting that if they are found to have been bribed he will waive their diplomatic immunity--a statement not at all conducive to investigation, he could have certainly just waived it later) does not contradict the fact that he instructed contractors not to turn over documents to the Iraqi government-hired audits.

Your kingdom for a link? As already mentioned twice, you can get to a plethora of reports by using google and entering "Rosset" and "UN". Claudia Rosset's reports are both informative and damning.

Do you have any credible evidence that Kofi Annan has been stonewalling the UN investigation?

Yes. Hush letters, and Kofi's refusal to open the books to anyone but Volcker are damning. Via Powerline, a letter written by Norm Coleman:

Today, Chairman Coleman and ranking member Senator Carl Levin also sent a letter to Kofi Annan, the Secretary General of the United Nations, reiterating a request for access to UN internal audit reports as well as key personnel knowledgeable about the abuses of the UN OFF program. The Subcommittee also objected to the recent actions of the Independent Inquiry Committee (“IIC”) headed by Paul Volker, that are “affirmatively preventing the Subcommittee” from receiving key documents relevant to its investigation.
With a stroke of the pen, Annan has the authority to release whatever documents he sees fit. From William Safire:
A U.N. official tells me the Volcker committee's first choices were turned off not just by lack of subpoena or oath-requiring powers – which Volcker considers "not fatal" – but by an inadequate budget to dig into the largest financial rip-off in history. As a result, after nearly three months, a foot-dragging bureaucracy has successfully frustrated the independent committee dependent on it.
A fellow editor also agrees with me.

Sebastian: does not contradict the fact that he instructed contractors not to turn over documents to the Iraqi government-hired audits.

I'm sorry, are you asserting that when there is an Iraqi government, the US will have instructed contractors not to turn over documents to it?

the US - the UN. Slip of the finger, sorry.

smlook: dutch,"One could of course go to the UN site about the OfF program inquity to see their answers to some questions."
As Jes, might say isn't this the fox guarding the chickens?

If you follow the link (or check votermums quote) you can see what Fox guards. But saying they are chicken is against the posting rules AFAIK.

Sebastian: from the UN site:

"Abuses of the Programme: Claudia Rosett asserted that overpayments, kickbacks and poor-quality humanitarian assistance went on unchecked during the OFFP. But she failed to acknowledge that UN officials frequently drew the attention of the Security Council Sanctions Committee charged with overseeing the Programme to anomalies in the pricing of both imports and exports—anomalies which left room for the Iraqi regime to extort kickbacks and surcharges."

" The UN and terrorism: Claudia Rosett repeated her charge that Oil-for-Food money ended up in the hands of terrorists. If this is true, the UN deplores it. But since this was money clandestinely extorted from contractors, which did not pass through the UN account, it is not obvious how the UN could have been in any position to influence the Iraqi regime's decisions on how to spend it. The UN is, needless to say, firmly opposed to all forms of terrorism, from whatever quarter and for whatever reason. But to suggest it was specifically money made from OFFP – and not, for instance, money earned from smuggling oil – that paid the terrorists' families, is preposterous.

5. The sports stadium myth: Ms. Rosett also states that Kofi Annan “signed off” on “things like the sports stadium for Saddam's son Uday …”: The Iraqi regime did indicate its desire to fund the construction of an Olympic stadium on the distribution plan — a "wish-list" of sorts — but that document in no way implied automatic approval of any listed goods, and no money for the stadium was ever approved or paid. Further, the UN expert tracking human rights abuses in Iraq publicly decried Uday's atrocities as part of his sustained campaign to shed light on the regime's heinous practices -- a campaign which bolstered the adoption by the General Assembly, year after year, of resolutions condemning Iraq's human rights violations."

"Releasing records: It is not true, as stated on the Journal Report, that the UN has refused to turn over documentation. All documentation possessed by the UN on the OFFP has been turned over to the Volcker inquiry and the Secretary-General has ordered all staff to comply with any requests from Mr. Volcker, including for interviews, on pain of dismissal for non-cooperation."

"Expansion of the Programme beyond food: As Ms. Rosett noted, the Programme grew as oil exports grew. In 1998 the Security Council raised and then in 1999 lifted the ceiling on the amount of oil that could be sold, making more money available to spend upon humanitarian assistance, which was expanded to improve education, electrical infrastructure, health facilities, agricultural infrastructure and spare parts for the oil industry itself -- all of which had deteriorated under sanctions."


Please note the weasel language--"All documentation possessed by the UN on the OFFP has been turned over to the Volcker inquiry and the Secretary-General has ordered all staff to comply with any requests from Mr. Volcker, including for interviews, on pain of dismissal for non-cooperation."

This does not contradict the fact that Annan instructed the major 3rd party holders of documentation not to turn it over.

Before the USA can judge the UN on the mis-use of funds it needs to account for Bremer's own $9 billion screw-up in Iraq.

"Before the USA can do anything about the War on Terror it needs to bring peace to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict".

Same logic, and wrong in both cases.

Charles: "Do you have any credible evidence that Kofi Annan has been stonewalling the UN investigation?"

"Yes. Hush letters, and Kofi's refusal to open the books to anyone but Volcker are damning. Via Powerline, a letter written by Norm Coleman:"

Eh.... Norm Coleman does the UN investigation??? Oh no, he investigates the UN. According to the UN:

Having appointed an independent inquiry committee headed by Paul Volcker to investigate the matter, he naturally has to respect their wishes. And Volcker wrote recently to U.S. Sens. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.), explaining that "Partial and premature disclosure of sensitive internal documents or demands for congressional appearances of UN employees will be damaging to the pursuit of investigative leads, chill participation of those called upon to cooperate with the [independent inquiry committee] and risk misleading, prejudicial and unfair impressions of institutional, personal and member state behavior."

The letter can be read here (pdf file).

Sebastian, I quote 5 points, you take part of one and dismiss the rest of the points.

Please note the weasel language--"All documentation possessed by the UN on the OFFP has been turned over to the Volcker inquiry and the Secretary-General has ordered all staff to comply with any requests from Mr. Volcker, including for interviews, on pain of dismissal for non-cooperation."
This does not contradict the fact that Annan instructed the major 3rd party holders of documentation not to turn it over.

Turn over to whom?? The US, or to Volcker?

(Duty calls, so it will be a while before I can answere here again)

Look, I don't want to have a pile on here, but when I look up the story on google news, it has 5 related, including such sterling sources as the Wash Times and WorldNet Daily. Furthermore, 1 of the 5 is this one

Paul Volcker, the chairman of the internal United Nations investigation into the Iraqi oil-for-food scandal, is facing embarrassing criticism for failing to declare alleged conflicts of interest when he was appointed.

-snip-

The ties have come to light after an investigation by Nile Gardiner, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation think-tank in Washington, and raise questions about Mr Volcker's objectivity.

Furthermore, on the question of Cotecna, I find this

Retracting an earlier assertion that his U.S. House subcommittee was misled by Cotecna Inspection Services, which is under investigation for alleged fraud and abuses in the UN oil-for-food program in Iraq, Representative Christopher Shays has issued a statement declaring that the subcommittee "regrets this misunderstanding and is fully satisfied that Cotecna has, to date, complied with the subpoena for all documents relevant to our investigation." . Shays, a Connecticut Republican who is chairman of the House Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations, had asserted earlier that Cotecna misled his panel by failing to disclose that Kojo Annan, son of the UN secretary general, had received payments totaling as much as $150,000 from Cotecna after he had left the company, where he worked from December 1995 to December 1998, as part of an agreement not to compete with the company in West Africa. . On Tuesday, he said Kojo Annan received reimbursements from the company for health insurance coverage through June of this year even though other payments ended in February. . Seth Goldschlager, a spokesman for Cotecna in Paris, said Tuesday that the health care coverage was part of the noncompete agreement. He said the payments were required by Swiss law in such agreements. Cotecna, based in Geneva, had no comment on the amount of the health care payments, except to say they were "quite moderate," or why they continued through June.

There's some snark about the linkage between credulity and one's ability to accept that some countries might have laws about employers providing health insurance, but beyond that, I have to wonder if this is as good as your argument gets.

This just in - CPA lost track of $8.8 billion in DFI funds.

Seems that more than 10%, gasp, of the Iraq supplement have been lost to corruption, fraud and deceit.

Can we fire Bush now, or Cheney, or Rummy, or Bremer (wait...) ?

Dutchmarbel, I dealt with the only of your 5 points that was particularly on point and good for your case.

For example, the report whines that they couldn't control the money once Saddam got his hands on it.
"But since this was money clandestinely extorted from contractors, which did not pass through the UN account, it is not obvious how the UN could have been in any position to influence the Iraqi regime's decisions on how to spend it."

I didn't bother responding to it since I thought it was obviously self-refuting. The program was corrupted in multiple ways, most of which ought to have been detectable by the people running the program. It doesn't speak to the problem of the fact that the program was deeply corrupted, it doesn't speak to the fact that it was corrupted in ways that the UN ought to have detected, it doesn't speak to the fact that the corruption directly involved Mr. Annan's son. It doesn't go to the fact that the corruption with Annan's son presumabley had a point....

Maybe this is only obvious to me because I've worked on cases where the cheesy defense goes along these lines, but the holes are huge.

Liberal Japonicus, your last post makes no sense. Cotecna after having been found out in a ridiculous case of obvious bribery has complied with subpenas showing what we already found out? Does that speak to bank records? Does that speak to Kofi Annan instructing contractors not to turn over records? No. Sheesh.

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