Skip to comments.Senators Accuse U.N. Leader of Blocking Their Fraud Inquiry [Oil-for-Food Coleman, Levin write Kofi]
Posted on 11/10/2004 4:55:47 PM PST by Mike Fieschko
Leaders of a United States Senate subcommittee investigating allegations of fraud in the oil-for-food program in Iraq have accused Kofi Annan, the United Nations secretary general, of obstructing their inquiry.
In a letter sent to Mr. Annan yesterday, the Republican chairman and ranking Democrat on the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations charged that the secretary general and a panel he appointed to conduct an independent investigation into the charges of abuses appeared to be "affirmatively preventing" the Senate from getting documents from a former United Nations contractor that inspected goods bought by Iraq.
The senators also complained that Mr. Annan was blocking access to 55 internal audit reports of the program and other relevant documents and refusing to permit United Nations officials to be interviewed by the subcommittee's investigators.
The United Nations-administered program, which ran from 1996 to 2003, allowed Iraq to sell oil to buy food and other essential supplies for Iraqis hurt by economic sanctions.
The senators said it had taken four months for Mr. Annan to reply to the subcommittee's requests, and when he finally did, he refused to cooperate with the Senate inquiry.
"We are concerned that the U.N.'s nondisclosure policy is being used as both a sword and a shield," the senators wrote, "sharing such 'internal records' when it favors the U.N., but then declining to do so when such disclosure could have negative implications."
The blunt letter is signed by the subcommittee's chairman, Senator Norm Coleman, Republican of Minnesota, and Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan.
Edward Mortimer, director of communications in the secretary general's office, said United Nations officials would "carefully look into what is clearly a very awkward and troubling letter."
He said he would also consult with Paul A. Volcker, who heads the United Nations-appointed investigation panel. Mr. Mortimer emphasized that Mr. Annan had instructed all United Nations staff to cooperate with Mr. Volcker's panel, known as the Independent Inquiry Committee.
Neither Mr. Volcker nor members of his staff, who have had a tense relationship with several House and Senate committees investigating the program, could be reached for comment last night.
The subcommittee also announced yesterday that on Monday it would hold the first of several hearings into allegations of widespread corruption in the $64 billion program. Among the first witnesses scheduled is Charles A. Duelfer, the chief American adviser on Iraq's unconventional weapons programs. Mr. Duelfer, the head of the Iraq Survey Group, recently published a lengthy report on Iraqi weapons programs that documented Saddam Hussein's use of the program not to buy civilian supplies as intended, but to generate billions of dollars in illicit money, undermine sanctions and buy conventional arms.
In their letter to Mr. Annan, the senators cited the United Nations' refusal to permit Lloyd's Register, which the United Nations had hired to inspect Iraq's purchases, to provide documents to the Senate investigators.
In an Aug. 31 letter, the director of the United Nations' legal affairs office told Lloyd's that while Lloyd's should cooperate fully with Mr. Volcker's panel, "under no circumstances" was it authorized to provide documents to the subcommittee.
The letter also asks Mr. Annan to permit the Senate investigators to interview 11 senior United Nations officials, including Benon V. Sevan, who headed the program. Mr. Duelfer's report said Mr. Sevan might have received oil allocations from Saddam Hussein. Mr. Sevan has denied any impropriety.
I'm in shock. This is the first thing, in recent memory, that Levin has done that I agree with.
A Democrat actually thinks the UN is obstructing their investigation? Are pigs flying?
The OFF program must be taken care of. The people must know what went wrong there.
great, ever coalition member should agree to withhold funding until criminal annan coughs up the goods, otherwise shut this worthless organization down.
Of course he is blocking any investigation because his son has been implicated in the early investigations this past summer. United Nations, right--the most worthless organization in the world, as far as I'm concerned.
Levin might be going along with being a tough guy to help land Slick closer to the Sec. Gen. role.
Bush's Revenge!!!!!!!!!!!!Nukem Cowboy!!!!!!!!
I'm with you as to Levin. As to the UN, no surprise there. They are a most corrupt lot. May the light shine on them...
Says it all.
But we have every reason to be suspicious....about his REAL motives.
Will this hearing be public? Will it be on cspan?
Umm. Why is Levin doing the right thing?
Don't worry, he'll find some way to blame the corruption on Republicans or Haliburton. The French, Germans, and Russians were innocent victims!
Judith Miller writing an article? Isn't she supposed to be in jail somewhere?
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