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Monday, November 15, 2004

The UN Oil for Food Scandal: Norm Coleman Takes Charge

Hat tip to Powerline for this article on Norm Coleman, and the coming bombshells on the corruption in the UN.

Coleman said this week's hearings will show that ''the scope of the ripoff'' at the U.N. is substantially more than the widely reported $10 billion to $11 billion in graft. But more than money is involved. These hearings also should expose the arrogance of the secretary-general and his bureaucracy. At the same time that he has refused to honor the Senate committee's request for documents, Annan has inveighed against the Fallujah offensive sanctioned by the new Iraqi government while ignoring the terrorism of insurgents. This is an unprecedented showdown between a branch of the U.S. government and the U.N.

The scandal is not complicated. Money from Iraqi oil sales permitted by the Saddam Hussein regime under U.N. auspices, supposedly to provide food for Iraqis, was siphoned off to middlemen. Billions intended to purchase food wound up in Saddam's hands for the purpose of buying conventional weapons. The complicity of U.N. member states France and Russia is pointed to by the Senate investigation. The web of corruption deepened when it was revealed that Annan's son, Kojo, was on the payroll of a contractor in the oil-for-food program.

Norm Coleman is more than a freshman Senator. Here's the end of Robert Novak's peice:

The reaction by the U.N. bureaucracy has been an intransigent defense of its stone wall. Edward Mortimer, Annan's director of communications, publicly sneered at the Coleman-Levin letter as ''very awkward and troubling.'' Privately, Annan's aides told reporters that they were not about to hand over confidential documents to the Russian Duma and every other parliamentary body in the world.

But the U.S. Senate is not the Russian Duma. These are not just a few right-wing voices in the wilderness who are confronting Kofi Annan. ''In seeing what is happening at the U.N.,'' Coleman told me, ''I am more troubled today than ever. I see a sinkhole of corruption.'' The United Nations and its secretary-general are in a world of trouble.

By association, so are those Democrats who believed American foreign policy should be governed by this corrupt organization. I doubt Mr. Kerry will have many public comments about these hearings...

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