Sunday, November 06, 2005

Oil for Food is not a UN scandal

Excerpt of AlterNet article:
Last week, the Independent Committee investigating the Oil-for-Food program (OFF) released its final report detailing how Saddam Hussein's regime skimmed just under two percent from the otherwise successful relief effort by charging kickbacks and "inland transportation" fees to companies doing business with Iraq.

The small group of conservative writers who I've dubbed the "Scandal Pimps" have been less enthusiastic about the release of this report than they've been about those that preceded it. The day after the release, the Wall Street Journal editorialized that the report didn't really add anything new, it just filled in some details.

What they characterized as "details" were actually the names of over 2,000 companies that paid bribes to the Hussein regime for a shot at buying Iraq's oil, selling spare parts for its oil infrastructure or providing humanitarian goods for a population starving under the U.S./ U.K.-led sanctions regime.

The Scandal Pimps have been low-key because the final report of the Committee -- known as the Volcker Committee for its chair, former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker -- offers further evidence that what they've worked so hard -- and so successfully -- to portray as a massive UN scandal has always been a relatively modest corporate scandal, interesting more for the players involved than because of its scale.

UN handled none of the monetary exchanges. It was not about the UN.

Many of the French companies involved were not French companies, but French offices of American or British firms. The scandal involved K Street, Carlyle, 2004 presidential campaign funds, Liechtenstein companies that may well have been American companies, Halliburton,

Blocked investigations:
In April, 2004, news reports claimed "the U.S. administrator in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, deliberately put the brakes on an investigation by the Iraqi Governing Council into ... bribes, kickbacks and smuggling at the U.N. Oil-for-Food program."

John Negroponte, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the Bush administration "can identify the private business firms that cut kickback deals with Saddam Hussein, but intends to keep the names secret...

Don't miss reading the Full report


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