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.

Oil-for-Food Program Abuse Update  | e-mail post

Since I first highlighted the oil for abuse scandal ("How Can You Build Alliances If Your Enemy Is Buying Them?") on October 2nd, the news died down a little bit, although there were some follow-ups [1] [2] [3 - Duelfer Report] [4 - Duelfer Followup]. Now that Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman's Special Committee on Investigations has been digging into things, there has been some new light shed on the situation. Today Reuters is reporting that Saddam may have bilked as much as $21 billion out of the program. [Reuters via Yahoo] Testimony available from the committee.

Of course, the amazing, or maybe just disappointing, thing is the lack of responsiveness from the U.N. on the issue, at least in responding to Coleman's committee. [Coleman and Levin's letter to Kofi Annan] They are currently stonewalling with the claim that Paul Volker's independent commission is researching the issue, even though the independent commission is as much as a year away from sorting this all out, according to previous statements by Volker. On the other hand, as Robert Novak in the Chicago Sun-Times observed, this could be the biggest threat ever to the U.N.'s legitimacy, so maybe their stonewalling shouldn't be surprising. Safire also opines about the issue, and the potential threat to the U.N. with the investigations opening tomorrow in the House International Relations committee.

Across the Atlantic, British MP George Galloway is suing the Telegraph over claims that he took bribes from Saddam as well. Galloway has proven to be a very effective litigator in such libel claims, getting an undisclosed settlement from the Christian Science Monitor already on this particular issue. He has a history of past libel claims as well. The problem is the circumstantial nature of the case; hopefully Coleman's committee will turn up something to help the Telegraph's case.

e-mail post | Link Cosmos | [Permalink]  |  | Tuesday, November 16, 2004
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