Maintaining Optimism in the Face of Reality. Occasional observations on the state of the world, society, business and politics. Usually anchored by facts, always augmented by opinion.
The United Nations ignored private intelligence firm's leads in the case, reports the Washington Times. Some of the firm's findings:
- A network of Iranians who were involved in smuggling oil under the U.N. program.
- Connections between the U.N. program and a French organized crime figure who U.S. officials said was a conduit for oil-for-food-related payments to French President Jacques Chirac.
- Information on the Swiss-based company Cotecna, which was involved in border inspections of oil-for-food goods. Cotecna at one point during the oil-for-food program hired Mr. Annan's son as a consultant.
- Data on the activities of an Egyptian oil broker who took part in illegal activities related to the oil-for-food program.
Claudia Rosett writing for the Wall Street Journal examines Kofi Annan's involvement in the Oil-for-Food program, saying, "Come Clean, Kofi." Not bloody likely, I'd say. Rosett gives a good play-by-play of Annan's involvement in the program (beyond his son's involvement, mentioned above).
Henry Hyde's International Relations committee in the House is also looking into things, including the involvement of French bank BNP Paribas, reports the NYT. Superlawyer Bob Bennett (brother of Reagan-era moral values champion Bill Bennett) is defending Paribas.
Reuters [via ABC] reports on Russian denials of wrongdoing, saying all the accusations. Actually, the Duelfer report seemed to raise some questions as well. At the same time, the Moscow Times reports that Russia is blocking the repatriation of Iraqi assets by four individuals, including Saddam's last ambassador to Russia.
Meanwhile, Denis Halliday former U.N. Assistant Secretary General, is claiming the United States was complicit in the Oil-for-Food abuses. [Inter Press Media] Halliday was opposed to the sanctions program itself, calling the sanctions "genocidal." Halliday also seems to have some pretty nutty ideas about what U.S. satellites are capable of: "Every contract, kickback and every (barrel of oil) smuggled into Turkey, Syria and Jordan, and even into Iran, was well known to and closely monitored by (overhead) U.S. satellites." Wow! I knew we had good satellites, but holy high-resolution Batman!
In the days of sanctions and the OFF program, Halliday accused the U.S. of causing problems for Iraqi people and was a staunch defender of Saddam Hussein and the Baath party. [CNN interview] Of course, one main reason why the Iraqi people weren't getting all the humanitarian aid was that so much of it was being skimmed, but Halliday seems to take greater pleasure in being an apologist for the old Iraqi regime.
Speaking of genocide, the tragic news today was that money skimmed from the Oil-for-Food program was used to cover Saddam's promises to compensate the families of Palestinian suicide bombers engaged in attacks against Israelis. [Fox News] [Seattle Times]
Yesterday's update is here. More news tomorrow, I imagine.
e-mail post | Link Cosmos | [Permalink] | | Wednesday, November 17, 2004