May 19, 2004
UNSCAM UPDATE: The New York Post is unhappy with Paul Bremer's foot-dragging:
Members of the governing council suspect that Bremer's motive is to protect the U.N. from adverse publicity in the run-up to the June 30 "handover of sovereignty."
Of course, it's no secret that powerful elements in the State Department have actively opposed efforts to investigate the U.N. Oil for Food scandal.
And it may be that the Bush administration itself wants to go easy on the U.N., and Secretary General Kofi Annan, now that it is seeking to have the U.N. help shape a new Iraqi government.
But it is a terrible mistake for America to thwart the Oil for Food investigation for any reason — let alone to preserve the U.N.'s ragged credibility.
Never mind that Kofi & Co. appear (to put it charitably) to have permitted one of the most breathtaking embezzlements in the annals of crime.
The fact is that the United Nations is viewed widely in Iraq as a principal Saddam-enabler — if not a collaborator in his crimes — and is despised for it.
I agree. It's possible, as Thomas Lifson writes, that there's more to this story. But if the Bush Administration is quashing this investigation in an effort to get UN support, I predict that they'll wind up being snookered.
UPDATE: But stuff is leaking out. Claudia Rosett has lots of interesting information on oil-for-food misconduct from internal U.N. audits. Kojo Annan's company Cotecna figures prominently.