Teacher's Ramblings

A potpourri of education, politics, family matters, and current events.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Another Call That Kofi Must Go

WSJ has the above editorial, which does not mince words:

It's time for U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to resign.
Over the past seven months, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which I chair, has conducted an exhaustive, bipartisan investigation into the scandal surrounding the U.N. Oil-for-Food program. . .

. . . Our Investigative Subcommittee has gathered overwhelming evidence that Saddam turned this program on its head. Rather than erode his grip on power, the program was manipulated by Saddam to line his own pockets and actually strengthen his position at the expense of the Iraqi people. At our hearing on Nov. 15, we presented evidence that Saddam accumulated more than $21 billion through abuses of the Oil-for-Food program and U.N. sanctions. We continue to amass evidence that he used the overt support of prominent members of the U.N., such as France and Russia, along with numerous foreign officials, companies and possibly even senior U.N. officials, to exploit the program to his advantage. We have obtained evidence that indicates that Saddam doled out lucrative oil allotments to foreign officials, sympathetic journalists and even one senior U.N. official, in order to undermine international support for sanctions. In addition, we are gathering evidence that Saddam gave hundreds of thousands--maybe even millions--of Oil-for-Food dollars to terrorists and terrorist organizations. All of this occurred under the supposedly vigilant eye of the U.N.

While many questions concerning Oil-for-Food remain unanswered, one conclusion has become abundantly clear: Kofi Annan should resign. The decision to call for his resignation does not come easily, but I have arrived at this conclusion because the most extensive fraud in the history of the U.N. occurred on his watch. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, as long as Mr. Annan remains in charge, the world will never be able to learn the full extent of the bribes, kickbacks and under-the-table payments that took place under the U.N.'s collective nose.

Mr. Annan was at the helm of the U.N. for all but a few days of the Oil-for-Food program, and he must, therefore, be held accountable for the U.N.'s utter failure to detect or stop Saddam's abuses. . .

Another op-ed by Claudia Rosett looks at the Kojo connection and Mr. Annan’s failure to take responsibility:

[. . .]

Not that one would expect the secretary-general to spend long nights poring over details of every contractor hired by his own Procurement Division. But it is reasonable to expect that somewhere in the multibillion-dollar procurement operations of the United Nations there would be a functional mechanism to require disclosure by all U.N. contractors of such details as, say, a stream of payments to the immediate family of a top U.N. official.

That is not merely a matter, as Secretary-General Annan suggested, of "perception of conflict of interests." Even if nothing wrong gets done, it is a conflict of interest. Both Cotecna and Kojo Annan, through his lawyers, have denied any wrongdoing. Fine. But given that the U.N. is supposed to be a public institution, not a privately held secret society, what's needed here is systematic full disclosure. Had this been the prevailing climate at the U.N. during Oil for Food, there would have been far fewer opportunities for Saddam to scam billions out of the program, and maybe even a lot fewer surprises for the secretary-general.

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