Roger L. Simon

Dept. of Been There/Done That

Cigar division… Meanwhile, the Bolton vote is delayed (no pun intended). At the same time, in real news rather than political posturing by Senators more interested in themselves than genuine reform of the United Nations (who knew?), the first Oil-for-Food indictments are coming in – and it’s the American judicial process taking the action.

UPDATE: Here is the NYT story on the Oil-for-Food indictments of a Texas businessman as well as a British and Bulgarian citizen. I am posting (for me) a long excerpt of the final part.

Many member countries at the United Nations have refused to cooperate fully with a separate inquiry by investigators looking into waste, fraud and mismangement in the oil-for-food program, which was intended to allow Iraq to sell limited quantities of oil in return for humanitarian relief.

The Independent Inquiry Committee, head by Paul A. Volcker, former head of the Federal Reserve, has issued two interim reports of its findings, and a final report is due in midsummer.

In its first interim report, on Feb. 4, the commission found that the former head of the program, Benon V. Sevan, had a “grave and continuing conflict of interest” in helping a friend obtain valuable Iraqi oil contracts and said a second United Nations official, Joseph Stephanides, had violated procurement rules. Both men have been suspended and are in the process of answering United Nations charges against them.

Questions have also been raised about the participation of Kojo Annan, son of the United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan. The elder Mr. Annan has was criticized in the most recent interim report on the grounds that he failed to perceive the appearance of a conflict of interest when Kojo Annan was employed by a contractor employed by the program.

Kofi Annan told 1,600 employees gathered in the General Assembly hall on April 6 that there had been “troubling lapses” in the management of the Iraq program but that he was making changes to prevent any recurrence.

On Jan. 18, Samir A. Vincent, an Iraqi-American businessman, pleaded guilty to lobbying influential Americans on behalf of Mr. Hussein without registering as a foreign agent. Mr. Vincent admitted he had secretly been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars and granted rights to sell millions of dollars’ worth of Iraqi oil, in exchange for working to end United Nations economic sanctions imposed in 1990. He is now cooperating with [US Attorney] Mr. Kelley.

Look back at the first quoted paragraph (“Many member countries at the United Nations have refused to cooperate fully…”) and ask yourself whether it isn’t time for a strong reformer like John Bolton for US Ambassador to the UN. A political game is being played over his nomination right now in our Senate with people who habitually mistreat their subordinates accusing others of doing so. I don’t doubt they all do. Politics is not a world of pleasant people, particularly behind closed doors. Larger issues are involved here, however. Much larger. Time for the likes of Chris Dodd to get serious (shame on him)!