U.S. administrators in Iraq have frozen records of a U.N. aid program to help investigators looking into possible corruption during the regime of Saddam Hussein, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said Saturday during a stopover in Kuwait.
U.S. congressional investigators have charged that Hussein's regime amassed $10 billion through oil smuggling, illegal surcharges and kickbacks from the United Nations' "oil-for-food" program between 1996 and 2002.[SNIP]
An Iraqi newspaper has published a list of about 270 former Cabinet officials, legislators, political activists and journalists in about 46 countries suspected of profiting from the scam.
"We are concerned, deeply concerned, that money that was supposed to be going to help the Iraqi people was diverted by Saddam Hussein, once again demonstrating the nature of that regime," Powell told reporters.
"That money was not used for food or healthcare or clean water. It was used for palaces and debauchery."Hmm. I’ve been hearing about how corrupt and worthless the UN Oil-for-Food program was since the days when I was a regular listener to Pacifica Radio’s KPFK. (That's a handful of years.) It seems that both sides of the political spectrum suspected that the program was a massive scam perpetrated on the Iraqi people. I wonder what the first clue was. Was it the palaces or the ever-rounder cheeks of Saddam and his cronies?
Of course, with the reports coming from Pacifica, I got the impression that the failure of the Oil-for-Food program was entirely the fault of the United States, in spite of the program being administered by the UN.
A growing chorus of people, in this country and around the world, are demanding an end to the murderous sanctions against Iraq, which are a direct result of U.S. government policy.(From a petition circulated in 1999. Check out the cast of characters on the advisory board. Oil-for-Food, of course, was set up to provide the Iraqi people with food, medicine, etc. while the sanctions were in place.) I guess that’s to be expected.
And is it any big surprise if this turns out to be true?
But the mounting evidence of scandal that has been uncovered in the U.N. Oil For Food program suggests that there was never a serious possibility of getting Security Council support for military action because influential people in Russia and France were getting paid off by Saddam. After the fall of Baghdad last spring, France and Russia tried to delay the lifting of sanctions against Iraq and continue the Oil for Food program. That's because France and Russia profited from it: The Times of London calculated that French and Russian companies received $11 billion worth of business from Oil for Food between 1996 and 2003.Some American And British hands aren’t clean either. A very familiar name is again surfacing in the matter:
The beneficiary list (found in the archives of the Iraqi Oil Ministry and translated into English by the Middle East Media Research Institute) should be deeply embarrassing to many prominent people. In the United States, those listed include Iraqi American businessman Shaker Al-Khaffaji, who put up $400,000 to produce a film by ex-U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter, which aimed to discredit weapons inspections in Iraq. [Bold mine]And this one:
Also, British Labor MP George Galloway, a strident foe of taking action against Saddam, is listed as a recipient or co-recipient of 19.5 million barrels.However, did the American and British executive branches balk at taking out the trash in Iraq as their French, German and Russian counterparts did? No. That’s the difference.
I expect this “little” drama to fade after a suitable period of time, however. Stolen billions just aren’t that exciting to enough people. Not unless the accused is part of an "unprotected" group.