Oil for Fleece
the Security Council received an 860-page report today excoriating their management of the oil-for-food program and saying the United Nations must be extensively overhauled ... The oil-for-food program scandal has deeply undermined the reputation of Mr. Annan, once thought of as the most outstanding secretary general since Dag Hammarskjold ... the report noted that the program helped keep the sanctions in place that it said deprived Saddam Hussein of the ability to acquire or develop weapons of mass destruction and that, thanks to the food and medicine that got to the 27 million Iraqis, "minimal standards of nutrition and health were maintained in the face of potential crisis." ... "despite uncertain, wavering direction from the Security Council"
One fascinating document -- Volume II - Report of Investigation: Programme Background -- details the smuggling, the role of the different countries, of Maurice Strong, etc and deserves really close attention. I hope to post on this later, if time permits, but commenters with the time available should look through it: this is how the UN system works.
Some of the points that Volume II makes are:
- "Iraq's top officials frequently instructed its civilian ministries to procure goods in behalf of ... the Ministry of Military Industrialization, the Ministry of Defence and the Mukhabarat ..." (page 31) under OFF
- "In the latter part of 2000, Iraq started requiring its oil and goods contracting partners to make side payments to Iraq outside of the United Nations escrow account ..." (page 31)
It traces the evolution of the oil-for-food program from the earlier program of sanctions maintained during the 1990s, a program to continuing inspections of Saddam's warmaking capacity by UNSCOM. A close reading of the history reveals a tug of war between Security Council members which wanted the sanctions lifted and those who wanted to keep them in place until it morphed into OFF under Boutros-Ghali.
- "During the early 1990s, two men -- Samir Vincent and Tongsun Park -- insinuated themselves into the discussions involving the United Nations and Iraq that eventually became the Oil for Food Programme. ... Iraq eventually paid them large amounts of money during 1996 with the understanding that at least part of the money would be paid to the Secretary General to encourage him to be more favorable to Iraq in connection with the ... programme" (page 72. NB, that would be Boutros-Ghali)
- Maurice Strong and Tongsun Park
- Park receives $1M in cash from Tariq Aziz (page 105)
- Park deposits the money in Jordan's Housing Bank, which then issues a check for $988,885 to 'Mr. M. Strong', subsequently used to purchase shares in Cordex, a company connected to Maurice Strong. (page 105)
- "Although Mr. Strong stated he did not recall receiving the check from Mr. Park, when he was recently shown the back of the check, he recognized his signature on the endorsement." (page 106)
- "the committee has not found any direct evidence that Mr. Strong knew that the money was from Iraq" (page 111)
- Platt Oilgram News notes that Iraqi oil is underpriced in 1998 and deduces this fact left room for generating kickbacks and other forms of corruption. (page 130)
- "It is now well known that the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein derived far more revenues from smuggling oil outside the Programme than from its demand for kickbacks ... " (page 185)
- "ultimately by early 2003, Jordan decided -- with the help of the United States -- to engage in the single largest series of smuggling transactions that took place during the entire Programme" (page 187. This is interesting because by this time the US was seeking authorization to invade Iraq).
- "Diplomats interviewed by the (Volcker) Committee frequently brought up the position of the United States and, to a lesser degree, the United Kingdom ... One United Kingdom official stated that the 'Jordanian exception' was known to everyone and tolerated because the United States and the United Kingdom wanted it to be tolerated" (page 198)
- United States officials when interviewed said the exception was in place because Jordan "was important to us". The same explanation was given for smuggling through Turkey. (page 198)