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Senators Accuse U.N. Leader of Blocking Their Fraud Inquiry [Oil-for-Food Coleman, Levin write Kofi]
New York Times ^ | Nov 10, 2004 | JUDITH MILLER

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.



TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Front Page News; News/Current Events; US: Michigan; US: Minnesota
KEYWORDS: israel; kofiannan; napalminthemorning; oilforfood; religionofpeace; uncorruption; wot
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1 posted on 11/10/2004 4:55:47 PM PST by Mike Fieschko
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To: Mike Fieschko

I'm in shock. This is the first thing, in recent memory, that Levin has done that I agree with.


2 posted on 11/10/2004 4:58:28 PM PST by Dolphy
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To: Mike Fieschko

A Democrat actually thinks the UN is obstructing their investigation? Are pigs flying?


3 posted on 11/10/2004 4:59:58 PM PST by Peach (The Clintons pardoned more terrorists than they ever captured or killed)
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To: Dolphy

The OFF program must be taken care of. The people must know what went wrong there.


4 posted on 11/10/2004 5:01:00 PM PST by Angry Republican (yvan eht nioj!)
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To: Dolphy

great, ever coalition member should agree to withhold funding until criminal annan coughs up the goods, otherwise shut this worthless organization down.


5 posted on 11/10/2004 5:01:08 PM PST by michaelbfree
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To: Mike Fieschko
Annan not cooperating with the US? That is just so uncharacteristic of him. NOT. Time for the UN to pack up and move to Dutchland or Froggyville.
6 posted on 11/10/2004 5:01:12 PM PST by crazyhorse691 (We won. We don't need to be forgiving. Let the heads roll!!!!!!!!!)
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To: Mike Fieschko

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.


7 posted on 11/10/2004 5:01:18 PM PST by charwel (charwel--Proud sister of a Swiftie)
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To: Peach; Dolphy

Levin might be going along with being a tough guy to help land Slick closer to the Sec. Gen. role.

??


8 posted on 11/10/2004 5:01:24 PM PST by prairiebreeze (George W Bush: Spending well-earned political capital.)
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To: prairiebreeze

Bush's Revenge!!!!!!!!!!!!Nukem Cowboy!!!!!!!!


9 posted on 11/10/2004 5:02:32 PM PST by JessieHelmsJr
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To: prairiebreeze

Anyone surprised?


10 posted on 11/10/2004 5:02:42 PM PST by Montresor
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To: Dolphy

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...


11 posted on 11/10/2004 5:03:13 PM PST by eureka! (It will not be safe to vote Democrat for a long, long, time...)
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To: Dolphy
I'm in shock. This is the first thing, in recent memory, that Levin has done that I agree with.

Same here.

I blinked a few times to make sure I read the article correctly, only then put it in the title.
12 posted on 11/10/2004 5:05:57 PM PST by Mike Fieschko ("A q should always be followed by a u. I dont make the rules, Iraq, but I will enforce them.")
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To: Mike Fieschko
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.

Says it all.

13 posted on 11/10/2004 5:05:58 PM PST by prairiebreeze (George W Bush: Spending well-earned political capital.)
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To: Dolphy
I'm in shock. This is the first thing, in recent memory, that Levin has done that I agree with.

But we have every reason to be suspicious....about his REAL motives.

14 posted on 11/10/2004 5:07:04 PM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach (A Proud member of Free Republic ~~The New Face of the Fourth Estate since 1996.)
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To: Mike Fieschko

Will this hearing be public? Will it be on cspan?


15 posted on 11/10/2004 5:07:21 PM PST by processing please hold (All I ever need to know about Islam, I learned on 9-11)
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To: Mike Fieschko

Okay.

Umm. Why is Levin doing the right thing?


16 posted on 11/10/2004 5:08:04 PM PST by Soul Seeker
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To: Peach
A Democrat actually thinks the UN is obstructing their investigation? Are pigs flying?

Don't worry, he'll find some way to blame the corruption on Republicans or Haliburton. The French, Germans, and Russians were innocent victims!

17 posted on 11/10/2004 5:09:08 PM PST by Auntie Dem (Hey! Hey! Ho! Ho! Terrorist lovers gotta go!)
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To: Soul Seeker
Im sick and tired of old europe.
18 posted on 11/10/2004 5:09:46 PM PST by lulo_08
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To: Soul Seeker
Why is Levin doing the right thing?

Kofi's term ending soon? Any replacement candidates?

Typing the first thing which came to mind.
19 posted on 11/10/2004 5:10:09 PM PST by Mike Fieschko ("A q should always be followed by a u. I dont make the rules, Iraq, but I will enforce them.")
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To: Dolphy

Judith Miller writing an article? Isn't she supposed to be in jail somewhere?


20 posted on 11/10/2004 5:11:16 PM PST by what's up
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