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Saturday, April 09, 2005

Norm on Kofi Annan

Once upon a time, I took Senator Coleman to task for his idiotic witchhunt against Kofi Annan. How Coleman can believe that Annan needs to be booted out of his position for negligence while Bush, Rummy, et al aren't held accountable for their lies and incompetence in Iraq shows that there is very little higher brain activity going on in there.

Well, several months later, I got a reply back from Coleman about the issue. He still won't let go, nor will he admit the hypocrisy:

Dear Friend :

Thank you for taking the time to contact me concerning my call for Kofi
Annan to resign as Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Over the past seven months, the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI), which I chair, has conducted an exhaustive, bipartisan investigation into the scandal surrounding the U.N. Oil-for-Food program -- a program originally established by the U.N. to support the Iraqi people with food and other humanitarian aid while sanctions were in place against the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein.

However, our investigative subcommittee has gathered overwhelming evidence that Saddam manipulated this program to line his own pockets and the pockets of others at the expense of the Iraqi people. At our hearing on Nov. 15, we presented evidence that Saddam accumulated more than $21 billion through abuses of the Oil-for-Food program. We continue to amass evidence that he used the overt support of prominent members of the U.N., such as France and Russia , along with numerous foreign officials, companies, and possibly even senior U.N. officials, to exploit the program to his advantage. We have obtained evidence that indicates that Saddam doled out lucrative oil allotments to foreign officials, sympathetic journalists, and even one senior U.N. official in order to undermine international support for sanctions. In addition, we are gathering evidence that Saddam gave hundreds of thousands -- maybe even millions -- of Oil-for-Food dollars to terrorists and terrorist organizations. All of this occurred under the supposedly vigilant eye of
the U.N.

While many questions concerning Oil-for-Food remain unanswered, one conclusion has become abundantly clear: Kofi Annan should resign. The decision to call for his resignation does not come easily, but I have arrived at this conclusion because the most extensive fraud in the history of the U.N. occurred on his watch. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, as long as Mr. Annan remains in charge, the world will never be able to learn the full extent of the bribes, kickbacks and under-the-table payments that took place under the U.N.'s collective nose.

Mr. Annan was at the helm of the U.N. for all but a few days of the Oil-for-Food program and he must, therefore, be held accountable for the U.N.'s utter failure to stop Saddam's abuses. The consequences of the U.N.'s ineptitude cannot be overstated: Saddam was empowered to withstand the sanctions regime, remain in power, and even rebuild his military. Needless to say, he made the Iraqi people suffer even more by importing substandard food and medicine under the Oil-for-Food program and pawning it off as first-rate humanitarian aid.

This systemic failure of the U.N. and Oil-for-Food is exacerbated by evidence that at least one senior U.N. official -- Benon Sevan , Mr. Annan's hand-picked director of the U.N.'s Oil-for-Food oversight agency -- reportedly received bribes from Saddam. According to documents from the Iraqi oil ministry that were obtained by us, Mr. Sevan received several allotments of oil under Oil-for-Food, each of which was worth
hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars.

To make matters worse, the actions of Mr. Annan's own son have been called into question. Specifically, the U.N. recently admitted that Kojo Annan received more money than previously disclosed from a Swiss company named Cotecna , which was hired by the U.N. to monitor Iraq 's imports under Oil-for-Food. Recently, there are growing, albeit unproven, allegations that Kofi Annan himself not only understands his son's role in this scandal -- but that he has been less than forthcoming in what he
knew, and when he knew it.

As a former prosecutor, I believe in the presumption of innocence. Such revelations, however, cast a dark cloud over Mr. Annan's ability to address the U.N.'s quagmire. Mr. Annan has named the esteemed Paul Volcker to investigate Oil-for-Food-related allegations, but the latter's team is severely hamstrung in its efforts. His panel has no
authority to compel the production of documents or testimony from anyone outside the U.N. Nor does it possess the power to punish those who fabricate information, alter evidence or omit material facts. It must rely entirely on the goodwill of the very people and entities it is investigating. We must also recognize that Mr. Volcker's effort is wholly funded by the U.N., at Mr. Annan's control. Moreover, Mr. Volcker must issue his final report directly to the secretary general, who will then decide what, if anything, is released to the public.

Therefore, while I have faith in Mr. Volcker's integrity and abilities, it is clear the U.N. simply cannot root out its own corruption while Mr. Annan is in charge: to get to the bottom of the murk, it's clear that there needs to be a change at the top. In addition, a scandal of this magnitude requires a truly independent examination to ensure complete transparency, and to restore the credibility of the U.N. To that end, I reiterate our request for access to internal U.N. documents, and for access to U.N. personnel who were involved in the Oil-for-Food program.

All of this adds up to one conclusion: it's time for Kofi Annan to step down. The massive scope of this debacle demands nothing less. If this widespread corruption had occurred in any legitimate organization around the world, its CEO would have been ousted long ago, in disgrace.

Thank you once again for contacting me. I value your advice. If I can be of further assistance to you in the future, please do not hesitate to contact me again.

Norm Coleman
United States Senate
Pathetic, really.


At 12:53 AM, April 10, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aw, c'mon. I mean, he apparantly spent the last four months carefully pondering your letter, evaluating his position, and thinking through the varying aspects before taking the time to personally write you that e-mail. ;)


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