Friday, November 18, 2005

 

A UN Bribery Confession...

... and silence in the media

A French diplomat who was a special adviser to Kofi Annan has admitted taking bribes from Saddam:
One of France's most distinguished diplomats has confessed to an investigating judge that he accepted oil allocations from Saddam Hussein, it emerged yesterday.

Jean-Bernard Mérimée is thought to be the first senior figure to admit his role in the oil-for-food scandal, a United Nations humanitarian aid scheme hijacked by Saddam to buy influence.

The Frenchman, who holds the title 'ambassador for life', told authorities that he regretted taking payments amounting to $156,000 (then worth about £108,000) in 2002.

The money was used to renovate a holiday home he owned in southern Morocco. At the time, Mr Mérimée was a special adviser to Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general.

According to yesterday's Le Figaro, he told judge Philippe Courroye during an interview on Oct 12: 'I should not have done what I did. I regret it.'

But he also said that the payments were made in recompense for work he had done on Iraq's behalf. 'All trouble is worth a wage,' he is reported to have said.
Via Ace, who notes:
His defense is against bribery charges is that he earned those bribes.
I'd really like to know how. Captain Ed comments:
This provides one of the most direct links between the corruption in the Oil-For-Food program and the Secretary himself. His own aide -- someone outside the OFF structure -- took bribes and kickbacks during a period when M. Mérimée held a unique position that could assist Iraq in pushing the UN delicately on any number of issues. It shows that Saddam Hussein not only had corrupted the UN to the point where he could use the humanitarian aid program as his own personal ATM (low-end estimates show at least $1.5 billion going into his pockets), but with Mérimée on the payroll, influencing the direction of the UN itself.

Why didn't this make the American media today? The last we heard of M. Mérimée, the French had detained him briefly for questioning on OFF. Now that he's confessed, a large piece of the twelve-year Iraqi quagmire at the UN is now clear. It sheds light not just on the corruption at Turtle Bay but a major reason for twelve years of inaction on Iraq's consistent defiance of UN resolutions, and the UN's curious lack of effort in enforcing them. It would explain why the US and UK alone on the Security Council finally had to take action to hold Saddam accountable for his intransigence.
UPDATE: It seems the media is also ignoring -- spinning, really -- another important story regarding the Iraq war:
As reported by the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker, the network evening news broadcasts tonight all lead with Congressman John Murtha’s (D-Penn.) call for the removal of American troops from Iraq. Yet, they seemed disinterested in focusing much attention on Rep. Murtha's "denouncement" of the Iraq war more than a year ago. (Please see a May 10, 2004 CNN story stating, “Rep. John Murtha, D-Pennsylvania, in a news conference with Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said the problems in Iraq are due to a ‘lack of planning’ by Pentagon chiefs and ‘the direction has got be changed or it is unwinnable.’") Maybe most important, the networks totally ignored the fact that Rep. Murtha has been expressing disgust with the Bush administration’s prosecution of this war since six months after it started.

Rep. Murtha first voiced his displeasure with how things were going in Iraq on September 16, 2003, when he called for the immediate firing of President Bush’s defense leadership team. The network news organizations this evening chose not to inform their viewers of this, and, instead, implied that Rep. Murtha was a "hawk" that has always supported this war, and that his statements today were recent revelations.

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