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Reid Morden

Canadian oil-for-food investigator says "all this stuff" is imputing UN integrity

by Judi McLeod,

January 19, 2005

With the investigation into the United Nations oil-for-food scandal expected to table its interim report this month, inquiry Executive Director Reid Morden was getting a plug from Toronto Star columnist Stephen Handelman.

Morden, who came out of retirement to lead the probe under the chairmanship of former U.S. Reserve Bank head Paul Volcker, was former Canadian deputy foreign affairs minister and ex head honcho of Canada's main spy agency, the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS).

"…Like most Canadians, he regarded the UN as key to the nation's cherished middle-power role as a peacemaker," Handelman wrote.

No polls exist showing that "most Canadians" see the UN as the key to Canada's cherished role as a peacemaker. More likely, most Canadians do not know or even care what the UN is.

Morden, interviewed by the Star columnist in "a relaxed conversation over café au lait at a crowded New York brasserie", was waxing sanctimonious.

"I decided to take the job because this stuff was imputing the integrity of the UN," said Morden.

Talk about arriving in to the New York one-year post with as many preconceived notions as suitcases.

"This stuff", even a fawning Handelman admits, "amounts to some of the most dramatic allegations of fraud and criminal conduct attached to the United Nations."

at the core of the alleged scam are charges that senior UN officials connived in a kickback scheme that allowed then-Iraq leader Saddam Hussein to net billions from a program intended to help Iraqis survive the UN Security Council-imposed sanctions following the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

Of five ongoing separate investigations into the scandal, two originate within the United States Congress, where Handelman says, "outraged politicians have seized upon the scheme as further evidence that the UN is corrupt and unreformable."

Seizing upon the scheme as further evidence that the UN is corrupt and unreformable? What about the estimated $7 billion to $21 billion siphoned off to Saddam under the watchful eye of senior UN personnel?

How did the outrage of politicians seizing upon the scheme come so quickly into play?

Handelman concludes that the controversial politics of the inquiry (is) "an outgrowth of White House resentment towards the UN for its failure to support the US war in Iraq."

What about the scandal's outgrowth in secret deals with contractors and suppliers in some 46 countries?

Morden, who says that the final report may not be available until June, explained that allegations of kickbacks to the program's director, Benon Sevan, might have to await a separate report.

"That will likely infuriate U.S. critics who believe the inquiry, despite its blue-ribbon leadership, is little more than a whitewash," Handelman predicts.

What is the measuring stick for "blue-ribbon leadership"?

Given Canada's allegiance to the UN, any high-level Canadian participation in the actual inquiry would have to be considered as self-serving.

"We want to put this into perspective," says Morden.

Problem is it's not perspective, but facts needed from the inquiry.

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, Drudge Report,, Glenn Beck. Judi can be reached at: [email protected]

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