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It's time for U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to resign.

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  • MEW
    It s time for U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to resign. By NORM COLEMAN http://online.wsj.com/public/article/0,,SB110185330853087227,00.html?
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 1, 2004
      It's time for U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to resign.


      Over the past seven months, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on
      Investigations, which I chair, has conducted an exhaustive,
      bipartisan investigation into the scandal surrounding the U.N. Oil-
      for-Food program. That noble program was established by the U.N. to
      ease the suffering of the Iraqi people, then languishing under Saddam
      Hussein's ironfisted rule, as well as the economic sanctions imposed
      on Iraq by the U.N. after the first Gulf War. While sanctions were
      designed to instigate the removal of Saddam from power, or at least
      render him impotent, the Oil-for-Food program was designed to support
      the Iraqi people with food and other humanitarian aid under the
      watchful eye of the U.N.

      Our Investigative Subcommittee has gathered overwhelming evidence
      that Saddam turned this program on its head. Rather than erode his
      grip on power, the program was manipulated by Saddam to line his own
      pockets and actually strengthen his position 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 and U.N. sanctions. 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 detect or 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

      Since it was never likely that the U.N. Security Council, some of
      whose permanent members were awash in Saddam's favors, would ever
      call for Saddam's removal, the U.S. and its coalition partners were
      forced to put troops in harm's way to oust him by force. Today, money
      swindled from Oil-for-Food may be funding the insurgency against
      coalition troops in Iraq and other terrorist activities against U.S.
      interests. Simply put, the troops would probably not have been placed
      in such danger if the U.N. had done its job in administering
      sanctions and Oil-for-Food.

      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

      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. Why is the U.N. different?

      Sen. Coleman is chairman of the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on
      Investigations, and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations
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