Friday, February 04, 2005

The Corruption of the U.N.'s Iraqi Oil-for-Food Program

One of today's most important news stories has been the release of the interim report by the commission investigating the United Nations' handling of the $64 billion oil-for-food program with Iraq, a program which the commission concluded was riddled with corruption, favoritism, and mismanagement.

Most extraordinarily, the Iraqi government demanded and received more than $2 billion in kickbacks and payoffs from businessmen wanting to do business with Saddam Hussein.

While the scandal has been viewed so far largely as a U affair, less noticed today were the remarks of San. Richard Lugar (R-Indo.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who said that while "part of the blame for the current imbroglio lies with the U", Congress should also "recognize that those nations who sat on the Security Council... [among them] the United States-- must also answer questions as to why they, too, did not pay greater scrutiny to the program."

The interim report, authored by former Federal Reserve chairman Paul A. Volcker, is hardly going to be the last word on the subject. The Volcker Commission's final report is due out, according to a senior State Department official, in the late summer or early fall. Congressional investigations are ongoing as well.

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