A Pajamas Media reader sends in the following item. Is it a spoof? You tell me:
Oil-for-Food-Denial Conference Opens in Iran
“If there was a scandal…”
TEHRAN (OFF News) – March 15, 2007 – After three months of living “underground,” former Secretary-General Kofi Annan came to the surface and spoke in the Iranian capital city on Monday at the opening of a two-day conference questioning the existence of the UN Oil-For-Food scandal, a move that has sparked outrage among groups seeking to promote greater accountability of the world body.
One such group, Transparency Transnational, planned to counter the event with a teleconference showcasing evidence that the scandal had indeed occurred.
Senon Bevan, the Tehran conference’s rapporteur, told Iran’s state-run news agency, IRNA, that the international community would accept that the oil-for-food scandal occurred only if scholars attending the conference “could prove that officials formerly associated with the program had actually received payments in violation of UN rules and regulations.”
Officials with Transparency Transnational scoffed at Bevan’s statement, saying that such proof was impossible because prior to leaving office in December 2006, then-Secretary-General Kofi Annan ordered all documents obtained by former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker to be collected by the United Nations and sealed in perpetuity at one of the world body’s archive facilities, maintained at an undisclosed location in a flood zone.
Speaking on the first day of the conference, Mr. Annan said that he does not deny that the program may have resulted in kickbacks and surcharges paid to the Saddam Hussein regime, but stated that allegations of complicity or profiting by former UN officials were propaganda by a vast right-wing conspiracy and without basis in fact.
Annan welcomed the conference, hosted by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to counter the media’s repeated assertion that the Oil-for-Food was the “biggest financial scandal in history.”
“If the Oil-for-Food scandal is a historical event, then is it not warranted to be looked into and researched?” Annan asked rhetorically. “That’s why we are here today.”
Because of the negative reactions to the nature of the conference, Iran has not announced the names of the participants. A source within the French embassy in Tehran did disclose, however, that the list would include a number of former UN staff members who worked under Kofi Annan and his predecessor, whoever-that-was, IRNA reported.
No one from the administration of current UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon will attend the conference, which began at 9:30 a.m. (1 a.m. ET), a spokeswoman for Mr. Ban said.
Transparency Transnational announced on its Web site that it would convene a videoconference of 70 whistleblowers whose personal accounts of the Office of the Iraq Programme are intended to counter the Tehran conference.
Former UN Ambassador John Bolton, who will participate in the Transparency videoconference, rejected the Tehran conference as one of several attempts by Annan and his associates to deny the existence of the scandal.
“This is an outrage, an insult to humanity, that the former Secretary-General could stoop so low as to deny the greatest financial scandal in the history of civilization,” Bolton said.
“That is why we gathered together whistleblowers who will counter these revisionist claims by giving first-hand accounts of what they actually experienced and witnessed.”
Although President Ahmadinejad would not release a full list of participants, sources close to the Iranian President hinted that while the invitees have been culled to exclude anyone from the American heartland, there will be a warm welcome for ivy league scholars, former UN special advisers, French ambassadors, and of course the conference organizers extend their special greetings to Her Excellency the former US ambassador during the establishment of the Oil-for-Food Programme.