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Dissappointment from Fox Regarding Oil for Food Findings?

Reported by Ellen - February 7, 2005

On Thursday's (2/3/05) Studio B, Rick Folbaum was filling in for Shepard Smith. They went quickly from Secretary Rumsfeld's press conference to the press conference with former Federal Chairman, Paul Volcker, who is heading up the International Investigation into the Oil for Food Program.

Mr. Volcker explained right away that this was of an international scope, not a US investigation. He added that this is something that some in the US seem to forget. He explained that this was an interim report with the final report probably coming out around mid summer. He also explained that while this investigation was essentially an investigation of the UN, itself, that the UN 'does' have diplomatic immunity and there is 'no' supoena power.

He wanted to stress the point that the majority of the illicit funds to Iraq came about by sanction violations 'outside' the UN Oil for Food Program. This entailed smuggling to Jordan, to Turkey, to Syria and to Egypt. (comment: important distinction)

Mr. Volcker then went on to say that Benon Sevan, Director of the Office of the Iraq program, a UN employee solicited for allocations using a small trading company. He said that the Iraqi government, in providing these allocations, thought they were buying 'favor'. They believed that Benon Sevan was in a conflict of interest situation and violated explicit UN rules and violated the standards of integrity essential to a high level civil servant. He went on to say that this was a painful episode for everyone in the history of the United Nations.

He stated that a 'tainted' procurement process began in 1996 when the program was just getting underway. Too few resources and too little disciplined follow-up were part of the problem.

He was very emphatic on his next statement. He said, 'We have not, I emphasize, we have NOT FOUND (his emphasis) systematic misuse of funds dedicated to the administration of the Oil for Food Program.

Paul Volcker also addressed recent 'conflict of interest' charges against him. He said he was indeed on the board of a company called UNA/USA, but he had not attended a meeting in the last two years. He added that this was not a conflict of interest, it just reflects his interest in the UN.

He went on to say that any investigations into possible conflict of interest for Kofi Annan in regards to his son would be addressed in a subsequent report.

Back to Rick Folbaum who interviewed Nile Gardner, Research Fellow with the Heritage Foundation. Mr. Gardner said this was a damning indictment of the UN operation and Benan Sevan. Mr. Gardner said it was 'very dissappointing' that there was no information regarding Kofi Annan and his son in this report. When Rick Folbaum pointed out that the report said that they had found no systematic misuse of funds, Mr. Gardner said that the UN would spin that statement "anyway they can" insinuating that the UN would use it to gloss over present and future damning revelations. He added that this is not the only investigation out there, that there were 5 Congressional Investigations and 3 Federal Investigations ongoing.

Mr. Gardner then went on to say that we 'may' see very damaging evidence against Kofi and son in the next few months. He also raised the possibility that Paul Volcker was too close to the UN. He also said that this report will be met with a healthy dose of skepticism on Capitol Hill. Folbaum asked Gardner if this committee could do a hard hitting report on the UN (a loaded question implying the UN needs to be hit hard). Gardner's answer was, "This Committee lacks power or real independence to produce a hard hitting, truly damning analysis of fraud and corruption at the highest level of the UN."

Comment: Apparently Gardner didn't like the results of this investigative committee. He was 'very' dissappointed that Kofi Annan and his son were not included. He 'ignored' the statement made by Paul Volcker that they had NOT FOUND any systematic misuse of funds dedicated to the administration of the Oil for Food Program. And that the majority of the illicit funds to Iraq came about by sanction violations 'outside' the UN Oil for Food Program. Apparently, he wants a 'truly damning analysis of fraud and corruption' whether there is one or not. (And where was the fair and balanced?)

Reported by: Donna........Donna's Dissertations.......

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