The numbers keep going up. Now, reports indicate that Saddam Hussein received at least $21.3 billion in oil kickbacks from the $64 billion program. Also, the value of other fraud related to the scandal associated with the United Nations’ Oil for Food program are supposed to be twice as high as previously reported. The amount of money and the complex network of corruption defy belief. Nevertheless, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations hints that its “staggering” disclosures have just begun. The fact that so-called “humanitarians” profited enormously from a program that was supposed to benefit the poorest of the poor is appalling.
There is plenty of sleaze in the scandal, but so far the public outrage, unbelievably, has been limited.
The scandal is called “Oil for Food,” but might more appropriately be called “Oil for Terrorism” because of the ties to crime, illegal activities and nations known to hide terrorist groups. There is even evidence that funds might have gone from the Oil for Food program to Al Qaeda.
Hudson Institute Fellow Claudia Rosett declared in a Wall Street Journal piece published November 17 that the “Oil for Food” scandal is the “biggest fraud in the history of humanitarian relief” and that “to get to the bottom [of the scandal] will need a much harder look at the top where Secretary-General Kofi Annan himself resides.”
Kofi Annan, Mr. Cool and Collected, has launched a U.N. independent investigation with results not due until mid-2005. There were already at least eight ongoing investigations with enough findings to embarrass the U.N. and shed light on activities that brought personal wealth to the powerful at the expense of the suffering people around the world. In the meantime, Annan is blaming the media, avoiding comments and staying too busy to cooperate with the investigations. He is bluffing his way around the investigations and relying on the countries represented on the Security Council to provide cover for him and the entire U.N.
The Secretary General has held the outrage at bay by appearing to be above the fray. Yet, just a little digging reveals that the Oil for Food program shifted into high gear shortly after Mr. Annan took office. It appears that the United Nations was integral to the scam and getting $1.4 billion in kickbacks all the while.
In her testimony before a House subcommittee in July, Rosett told about U.N. officials who “filched from what was supposed to be a relief program for the tyrannized and impoverished people of Iraq.” In addition, Rosett made it clear that Iraq’s tyranny and poverty were the result of Saddam’s greed and not the consequence of U.S.-imposed sanctions.
The Oil for Food scandal is not the first or only suspicious activity coming out of the United Nations. The Washington Times’ Bill Gertz reported November 17 that the U.N. ignored a private firm it hired to investigate corruption and a U.N. panel charged with investigating the scandal refused to release documents to two U.S. senators.
In addition, people critical to the various investigations have been killed.
This summer, C-SPAN presented a program, Inside the Asylum,which featured Jed Babbin, deputy undersecretary of defense in the first Bush administration. Babbin gave evidence of substantial funds going to underwrite terrorist activities and to support Yasser Arafat. Congressional testimony documents that Kofi Annan’s son received the contract to inspect the shipments from Oil for Food that went into Iraq. Saddam’s contractors were kept confidential, though we know that France, Germany, Russia and China received major contracts.
As we have uncovered information from Saddam Hussein’s palaces, we’ve found evidence of massive fraud taking place under the eyes of over 800 U.N. monitors serving in Iraq.
The company that withdrew its investigation of the United Nations because it was being stonewalled said that there were only two possible reasons for the U.N.’s lack of cooperation: (1) its incompetence or (2) turning a blind eye to something that would damage it.
There is a third option: the U.N. is deliberating hiding corruption that has enriched its personnel and its partners under the guise of humanitarian purposes.
Janice Shaw Crouse is Senior Fellow of the Beverly LaHaye Institute, the think tank for Concerned Women for America. She attends and writes commentary about many of the United Nations sessions.