politics, history and the war on terror
Friday, April 30, 2004
UNSCAM – Oil for What? 

The United Nation’s Oil for Food program was designed to provide humanitarian assistance for the Iraqi people using the monitored sale of Iraqi oil. Over the past few months, a mountain of evidence has surfaced concerning the corruption of this program, now dubbed UNSCAM in the blogsphere (in fact, and entire blog called Friends of Saddam is devoted to this subject).

The Wall Street Journal provides the most comprehensive picture of this ongoing scandal, from the disclosure of the list of ‘the Friends of Saddam’ ,the United Nations’ complicity, including that of Benon Sevan, director of the U.N.'s Oil-for-Food Program, the internal investigation by the UN and stonewalling from Kofi Annan & Mr. Sevan, the beginning of the investigation by the United States, the attempt to block the probe by Russia, up to the latest installment: the possible links between the Oil for Food program & al Qaeda. In Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal, Claudia Rosett, states unaccounted moneys may have fueled all sorts of illegal activities in the international arena:

In tallying various leaked lists, disturbing leads and appalling exposés to date, what becomes ever more clear is that Oil-for-Food quickly became a global maze of middlemen, shell companies, fronts and shadowy connections, all blessed by the U.N. From this labyrinth, via kickbacks on underpriced oil and overpriced goods, Saddam extracted, by conservative estimates of the General Accounting Office, at least $4.4 billion in graft, plus an additional $5.7 billion on oil smuggled out of Iraq. Meanwhile, Mr. Annan's Secretariat shrugged and rang up its $1.4 billion in Iraqi oil commissions for supervising the program. Worse, the GAO notes that anywhere from $10 billion to as much as $40 billion may have been socked away in secret by Saddam's regime. The assumption so far has been that most of the illicit money flowed back to Saddam in the form of fancy goods and illicit arms.

But no one really knows right now just how much of those billions went where--or what portion of that kickback cash Saddam might have forwarded to whatever he deemed a worthy cause. A look at one of the secret U.N. lists of clients authorized by the U.N. to buy from Saddam is not reassuring. It includes more than 1,000 companies, scattered from Liberia to South Africa to oil-rich Russia. And though the U.N. was supposed to ensure that oil was sold to end-users at market price--thus minimizing the graft potential for Saddam and maximizing the funds for relief--there is an extraordinary confetti of clients in locations known less for their oil consumption than for their shell companies and financial secrecy.

Some of these moneys may have wound up in the pockets of al Qaeda:

In Oil-for-Food, "Every contract tells a story," says John Fawcett, a financial investigator with the New York law firm of Kreindler & Kreindler LLP, which has sued the financial sponsors of Sept. 11 on behalf of the victims and their families. In an interview, Mr. Fawcett and his colleague, Christine Negroni, run down the lists of Oil-for-Food authorized oil buyers and relief suppliers, pointing out likely terrorist connections. One authorized oil buyer, they note, was a remnant of the defunct global criminal bank, BCCI. Another was close to the Taliban while Osama bin Laden was on the rise in Afghanistan; a third was linked to a bank in the Bahamas involved in al Qaeda's financial network; a fourth had a close connection to one of Saddam's would-be nuclear-bomb makers.

Whether you love, hate or are indifferent to the United Nations, it is important the truth be told. If the United Nations cannot provide simple humanitarian assistance without lining its pockets, supporting murderous dictators and possibly financing our mortal enemies, what gives it the legitimacy to determine the future of Iraq or any other nation?

Additional information:

Spoons, of The Spoons Experience blog, provides a humorous chart of who benefits and who suffers from the Martha Stewart, Enron and UNSCAM scandals.

Posted by bill roggio @ 1:13 PM