May 29, 2004

Oil-for-food -- the coverup?

Rodger L. Simon has been covering this wonderful turn of events -- the Oil For Food scandal in the UN goes a long way to explain why France and Russia tried so hard to impede the UN's actions on the Security Council resolutions against Iraq that called for direct action if Saddam failed to meet certain criteria. They tried so hard because they were roping in money hand over fist and they didn't want the gravy-train to stop... As it stands now, the 'frozen' funds remaining are held in a French bank and there has been no public accounting ever... From Roger's blog: bq. As the author of The Big Fix, I call a lot of things "the big" just for fun and, okay, for a bit of low-rent self-promotion. But this really is The Big Cover-Up like nothing before, not Enron, not Monica, not even Watergate, because, if Claudia Rosett's new report is even half right, the UN Oil-for-Food Scandal is on its way from a big cover-up to... in the parlance of its original Godfather (the new one is still free)... The Mother of All Cover-Ups. The article he points to is by Claudia Rossett: Just a taste: bq. The attacks have not been limited to the U.S.-led armed raid last Thursday on the Baghdad home and office of Iraq Governing Council (IGC) member Ahmed Chalabi, in which by Chalabi's account in a phone interview with me later that same day U.S. forces seized documentation incriminating to U.N. officials "on every level." There has also been the harassment recently of a British adviser to the IGC, Claude Hankes-Drielsma. This past February, Hankes-Drielsma lined up KPMG International, an accounting firm, together with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, a law firm, to carry out an audit of Oil-for-Food for the IGC. He testified before Congress last month that the KPMG investigation "is expected to demonstrate the clear link between those countries which were quite ready to support Saddam Hussein's regime for their own financial benefit, at the expense of the Iraqi people, and those that opposed the strict application of sanctions and the overthrow of Saddam." (Security Council members France, Russia and China come to mind.) bq. Last Thursday, the same day as the raid on Chalabi, an as-yet unidentified person hacked into Hankes-Drielsma's computer and deleted all the files, as Hankes-Drielsma recounted to me in a phone interview. The computer expert called in to cope with damage "said he'd never seen anything quite like it. They deleted even the backup files," says Hankes-Drielsma. Asked if he has been physically threatened as well, Hankes-Drielsma, says, "No comment." She closes with this: bq. ...And Oil-for-Food, overall, was simply too enormous and too rotten to stay stuffed under a rug. Information will almost certainly continue to seep out. Right now, amid all the high and mighty talk about a clean and transparent new start for Iraq, would be a good moment for both the U.N. and the White House to reconsider the perils of cover-ups. Check it out... Posted by DaveH at May 29, 2004 11:27 PM