April 28, 2003
Newly unearthed scandal could pink slip the world's top diplomat.
Within hours of breaking scandal stories on the UN Secretary General Kofi-Annan-led oil-for-food program, the UN News Service was churning out, we-support-Kofi press releases.
"The former Presidents of the United Nations General Assembly have expressed their full support for the role Secretary-General Kofi Annan is playing in the present climate of international tension, according to a letter released today at UN headquarters in New York," stated the press release. The letter was released from UN News Service, 3:00 p.m. Tuesday, April 22the same day radio icon Rush Limbaugh showcased New York Times "Oil, Food and a Whole Lot of Questions" article by writer Claudia Rosett.
Tied to the oil-for-food program--even before taking over as UN Secretary General--the high-living Annan fell victim to Limbaughs radio broadcast, in which Limbaugh described "Annans lavish lifestyle, while purporting to serve the worlds poor", as "sickening".
"Salary: $293,000 a year. Perks: a free mansion on Manhattans Upper East Side; free servants; a chauffeur-driven car (which parks wherever it wants); 1st class air travel or private jets if he cant get a flight; 24-hour security protection, etc. The secretary-general gets an additional $25,000 every year for "personal entertainment." Thats where all those pennies kids collect in UNICEF cans go to, folks.
"Tuition: the children of UN employees get school vouchers! Poor kids in Harlem have to stay in their failed schools, but UN employees get private school tuition of up to $12,675 per kid. UN employees who put 7.9% of their lavish pay into the UN pension fund, receive 10% to 60% of their highest three-year salary when they retire. Spouses continue to receive half their husbands or wifes pension for life. UN employees dont pay any income taxes!"
Limbaugh went on to call what NewsMax.com writers refer to as "that tower of Babel on the East River" a "cash cow."
"The Blue Helmets have this vaunted image of everybody working together to promote understanding and love and compassion between all the disparate peoples of the world. In fact, its just like anything else! Its just a place to go and get paid to not do anything! I think were just onto the tip of the iceberg here with the French and the oil-for-food program. We already know they stood aside during the massacre in the UN safe haven of Srebrenica (8,000 killed) and Rwandan genocide (over 1 million killed), etc. Now we know how much more damage theyve done lining their pockets."
Billions of dollars have gone AWOL from the oil-for-food program.
The biggest problem in tracing any missing money is that Annan operated the program in secrecy, accountable to nobody. All requests to open the oil-for-food program books have been flatly denied. Then again, historically, the UN has always thought of itself as sacrosanct and unaccountable to anyone.
Rosett, a former foreign correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, wrote "a veil of secrecy over tens of billions of dollars in contracts is an invitation to kickbacks, political back-scratching and smuggling done under cover of relief operations."
The oil-for-food program went into effect in 1996, to give humanitarian aid to the Iraqi people, because of the suffering from the sanctions imposed on Baghdad for its refusal to cooperate with disarmament resolutions after the 1991 Gulf War.
The program uses revenue from the sale of Iraqi oil to purchase humanitarian goods. Perhaps most significantly, the program is the only source of sustenance for 60% of the countrys 27 million people, according to the office of the Iraq program.
The war in Iraq forced the oil-for-food program under international scrutiny. Annan had suspended the program when he ordered all UN international staff out of Iraq on March 17, as the U.S.-led coalition campaign against Iraq was about to begin.
The conclusion of this story is not that the UN is not out there saving the world, but out there saving the UN by lining its own pockets.
Long-term voices from the wilderness, UN experts Henry Lamb and Alan Caruba, must be dancing the Glee Polka on the streets of their hometowns.
Given the breathtaking speed of official UN response to the scandal publicity, the UNs News Service worldwide Kofi Communiqué response of April 22 is almost comical. Looks like the Blue Helmets were tuned in to Rush that day.
"The Council of Presidents of the General Assembly said the upholding of moral standards and principles on which the UN was established are paramount when the sailing gets rough," said the release.
Many communiqués dispatched from UN News Service are warnings against the dangers of eating french fries, visiting Toronto, and other the-sky-is-falling type of mass messages.
Meanwhile, the sky is not falling. Kofi Annan is.
Canada Free Press founding editor Most recent by Judi McLeod is an award-winning journalist with 30 years experience in the print media. Her work has appeared on Newsmax.com, Drudge Report, Foxnews.com, Glenn Beck. Judi can be reached at: [email protected]