April 29, 2004

IT'S ALL ABOUT WHEAT

We know that the ďoilĒ part of the UNís oil-for-food program is deeply suspect -- but what about the food part?

The Australian Wheat Board's long and lucrative relationship with Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq will be examined as part of a United Nations investigation into the discredited and defunct oil-for-food program.

The UN will consider whether any of the money Iraq paid Australia for wheat was "kicked back" illegally to Saddam's regime by third parties who helped facilitate the deals - in Australia's case, by a Jordanian trucking company.

An AWB spokesman in Melbourne, Peter McBride, said the Wheat Board was "completely unaware of any corruption. Our contracts were completely under the terms provided by the UN."

Completely under the terms provided by the UN? Uh-oh. Meanwhile, on the oil side of the ledger, Kofi Annan says the UNís hands were tied somehow:

On the $5.7 billion that the GAO estimates Saddam pocketed through smuggling, Annan said "there was no way the U.N. could have stopped it" but he suggested the United States and Britain could have.

"We had no mandate to stop oil smuggling," he said.

No mandate, no responsibility. The Voice of America reports:

Many lawmakers fault the Bush administration and key countries such as Russia, France and China for not sounding sufficient alarms about abuses, such as overcharges on oil contracts.

Why wasnít the media sounding these alarms? Why arenít they sounding them more loudly now?

(Via Zem)

Posted by Tim Blair at April 29, 2004 01:03 PM
Comments

A member of the Egyptian Parliament, Emad Geldah, also said businesses had "no choice" but to follow Iraq's instructions. "If you wanted to do business with Iraq, these were the conditions you had to abide by," he said.

Who was sanctioning who?

Posted by: Timothy Lang at April 29, 2004 at 01:19 PM

No blood for semolina.

Posted by: fidens at April 29, 2004 at 01:36 PM

The comment by the Egyptian is beyond belief. But, then again, they believe whatever suits them at any given time. Can you imagine that as a defense in a court of law. " I paid the bribe, because he asked me to." ho ho ho

Posted by: Ted at April 29, 2004 at 01:40 PM

History repeats: AWB denies Saddam bribe claims - published June 6 2003.

Posted by: Andjam at April 29, 2004 at 01:48 PM

Will this be a case of wheatiegate ?

Hmmm, let me see, The UN, The Australian Wheat Board, I'll bet its still Howard's fault.

Posted by: nic at April 29, 2004 at 01:56 PM

On the $5.7 billion that the GAO estimates Saddam pocketed through smuggling, Annan said "there was no way the U.N. could have stopped it" but he suggested the United States and Britain could have.

"We had no mandate to stop oil smuggling," he said.

But the UN sure had a mandate to let people starve and be tortured in Iraq, eh? No wonder Rwanda was a clusterf**k. With world "leadership" like this, who needs Al Qaeda?

And why whine about no mandate? How many resolutions on Iraq did the UN pass and then ignore? What's one more on the list?

Many lawmakers fault the Bush administration and key countries such as Russia, France and China for not sounding sufficient alarms about abuses, such as overcharges on oil contracts.

Well, now, how many alarms did we sound about Iraq and their links to terrorism? Their failure to disarm? Husseins' known mass murders? And what did we get? Opposition from around the world. Gosh, would illegal oil sales have made a difference? Is this what people mean by "It's all about the oil!"?

(note to left wing liberals planning to jump in on this -- no, it's not 100% proved, but you can't brush aside the possibility just because the puzzle isn't solved as yet. The jury is still out. Please consider this before emulating a troll.)

Hypocrisy and denial. PFUI!! We have new candidates for membership in the Axis of Weasels here. Kofi can be Chief Weasel.

Posted by: JeffS at April 29, 2004 at 03:14 PM

Why wasn’t the media sounding these alarms?

Well, the June 6 2003 articles sound like sounding alarms (albeit after the regime had been changed), at around one decibel.

Posted by: Andjam at April 29, 2004 at 03:20 PM

"Annan said "there was no way the U.N. could have stopped it" but he suggested the United States and Britain could have."

The US and UK did stop it (with the Aussies, Poles, Spanish and others). And you've been bitching for over a year about that. Christ, is there any way to win with these people?

Posted by: Julia at April 29, 2004 at 03:37 PM

The Royal Navy spent several years patrolling the Arabian Gulf intercepting Iraqis ships carrying smuggled oil to Saudi. I think it was called Operation Enduring Freedom.

Posted by: Tim Newman at April 29, 2004 at 03:43 PM

One of the reasons these guys say such outrageous things is that they don't think this behavior is all that outrageous.

They see graft as just another way of doing business - the mission of the UN trumps all, so anything to keep the mission going is fair game.

It's fundraising for them. Like a speed trap, where the local city council urges police to make more traffic stops in order to generate more revenue.

Posted by: Steve in Houston at April 29, 2004 at 04:00 PM

Oh, yes W could have stopped it -- in 2001, but what about 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000?

Posted by: Sandy P at April 29, 2004 at 04:26 PM

The USS Cole "was part of the USS George Washington Battle Group, and was in transit from the Red Sea to a port visit in Bahrain when the ship stopped in Aden for routine refueling. The destroyer departed Norfolk for its deployment Aug. 8, 2000, and was scheduled to return home Dec. 21."

"At 11:18 on the morning of October 12, 2000, as USS Cole (DDG 67) was refueling in Aden Harbor, Yemen, suicide bombers detonated an explosive-laden boat directly against the port side of the ship. The resulting blast killed 17 Sailors, wounded 37 others, and tore a hole forty by sixty feet in the ship's hull."

The George Washington Battle Group was "[o]n its fourth deployment from June 2000 to December 2000. George Washington spent most of its six-month deployment in the Arabian Gulf as the cornerstone of the U.S. military presence there.

"The George Washington CVBG departed June 21, 2000. Their deployment included operations in the Mediterranean Sea, Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf. While in the Gulf, the battle group supported Operation Southern Watch by flying more than 800 sorties over Iraq. Surface forces supported UN sanctions against Iraq by conducting Maritime Interception Operations and diverting more than 20,000 metric tons of oil smuggled out of Iraq in violation of UN sanctions."

[Of course, since I haven't read Richard Clarke's book, I don't know if Clinton cornered him after the attack and demanded he find out if there was any involvement by Iraq. I do know that no clear ties to Iraq were ever reported.]

Probably the biggest single path for "smuggled" Iraqi oil was the pipeline to Syria that the US shut down immediately after the invasion.

Posted by: Lynxx Pherrett at April 29, 2004 at 04:26 PM

BTW, 20,000 metric tons is approx. 150,000 barrels of oil interdicted; and that was just during the time the George Washington Battle Group was in the Gulf between the end of Jun and Dec 2000.

Posted by: Lynxx Pherrett at April 29, 2004 at 04:48 PM

Well, it's nice to see SOMETHING the US and Israel aren't getting all the blame for!! At least we (the US) get to share the blame with the UK and Australia!!

This is pathetic. The UN is just passing the buck. It was the UN's program, overseen in large part by France, I think. It's the UN's fault for not keeping track of the money and for not stopping 'questionable' arrangements.

I can't believe they want to blame Australia, the UK and the US. The UN needs to go. It's nothing more than a joke at this point. A VERY EXPENSIVE joke.

The media could do a much better job in exposing this. They are too quiet. This is a MAJOR story. Why don't we see front page STORIES (plural) in the NY Times exposing the fraud?

Note:
I'm not saying this story is NOT being covered at all. It's just not being given the coverage it deserves. The world's media should be hounding the UN.

Posted by: Chris Josephson at April 29, 2004 at 10:05 PM

One thing that shocks me about Annan's remarks is that he blames the US and UK because they patrolled the air to the North and South and thus could have stoped the graft? I thought the no-fly-zone was so that Saddam could not launch an air campaign against the Shia and Kurds or engage in massive troop movements. Imagine this: One day the fighter planes patrolling the no-fly-zone get information of some smuggling operation. the only intervention as far as I can see is possibly a missile shot to the heart of he smuggling convoy. Any ideas on the response from Kofi and the rest of the UN diplomats? This is disingenuous at best. I'm sorry this turd is from my native country and sickened that this organization defiles my adopted country.

Posted by: kwame at April 30, 2004 at 01:11 AM

Overcharging for oil is only important to Big Media and the Left when it is done by Halliburton, Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, because their hearts are impure and their motives are suspect.

Posted by: charles austin at April 30, 2004 at 01:15 AM

I fully support any and all accusations levelled at the AWB.

Bring down the single desk cartel! End agricultural socialism!

Posted by: Yobbo at April 30, 2004 at 01:34 AM

13 raaa-aaa-aaakkk... US$4.5 billion per month errrrrr AWK!! AWK!!! Awk ruk ruk rukkkk kkkrrrr....

[The Parrotese-English Translator has been turned off by the Management.]

Posted by: Miranda Divide at May 1, 2004 at 12:23 PM