Wednesday, May 18, 2005


........"the far more significant issues and real news of this scandal. To wit:

• The $67 billion oil-for-food program — set up in 1996 five years after the Gulf War to buy food and medicine for suffering Iraqis — was run by the U.N.

• It was under this U.N. supervision that the program became a massive bribery scheme in which Saddam Hussein awarded oil vouchers to favored politicians, journalists and other influential figures who could resell the oil at a profit.

• The U.N.'s assistant secretary-general, Benon Sevan, administered the program and is now accused of being not just an enabler but an active participant in the corruption.

• Secretary-General Kofi Annan himself is linked to the scandal through his son Kojo.

Despite what the quarrelsome Galloway or anyone else says about the U.S., or how often Bayoil USA of Texas is charged with being a collaborator in the scheme, or how loud anyone asserts that the Bush White House knew about the bribery but looked the other way, one fact cannot be escaped:

The United Nations failed to use proceeds placed in its trust from the sale of Iraqi crude to provide relief for the Iraqi people. Worse, U.N. leaders exploited the program, apparently by diverting cash intended as aid to the sick and hungry. What could be more depraved?

A terrorist bomb? Yes. But terrorists don't often pose, as Sevan did, as concerned humanitarians. Investigators believe Sevan pocketed perhaps as much as $1.6 million from the scheme.

The real money, though, is at the institutional level. The U.N. apparently helped itself to nearly $1 billion by skimming 2.2% off the top of each barrel of oil sold. Just how does that square with the mission outlined in the U.N. charter?

It doesn't, of course. But unfortunately, it is consistent with the U.N.'s increasingly dismal performance. This is an organization that can't stop genocide (and doesn't even try), won't challenge dictators, coddles terrorist regimes, stands by while crooked leaders loot nations and blames it all on the West, especially the U.S.

As the information flows out, we're more convinced than ever the world body is in dire need of change from the top down."


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