May 01, 2004


Been wondering how something like this could have happened?

The vast majority of the United Nations' oil-for-food contracts in Iraq have mysteriously vanished, crippling investigators trying to uncover fraud in the program, a government report charged yesterday.

A year-old post from Tim Dunlop might supply a small piece of the answer:

A few weeks back I was talking to a person I know who has just started working for the UN. She has a background in the military and has therefore often dealt with confidential reports.

She said the thing that most struck her about moving to the UN was that there was no such thing as a confidential report at the UN. Part of the philosophy of the place is that everyone can see everything and she said it took some getting used to just leave stuff on her desk and to not have a safe in her office for storing sensitive documents.

In light of recent revelations, Tim should talk to this contact again.

UPDATE. Maybe someone wandering around the UN can find a copy of this report:

Last year a British UN worker, Ian Hook, was killed in Jenin after an Israeli soldier fired on him by mistake. The Israelis claimed he was caught in a gun battle after they returned fire from Palestinian gunmen. The UN denied there had been any such battle and presented Israel as trigger-happy assassins. Yet although the UN launched an inquiry within days of the incident, its report still has not been published. Why not? Might it be because it discovered that the Israelis had been telling the truth?

Posted by Tim Blair at May 1, 2004 04:34 AM

I'll bet Kofi consulted Bill Clinton about this before proceeding, after his experience with those missing travel files in the White House.

But no such thing as a confidential report at the UN? Astounding. And unbelieveable. I expect that they do have a system to classify and secure sensitive information. It's just that this is system is classified, so the UN can't discuss it.

And that's not as facetious as it sounds. Such a system identifies what can and can't be released for security reasons. The "can be" part assumes that someone is watching the information flow, such as what happens in the USA. Who is the UN accountable to?

Posted by: JeffS at May 1, 2004 at 05:34 AM

I'm not inclined to believe the "no secrecy" claim either, Jeff. But she's a UN employee, and she said it, so ... let's get her to explain.

Posted by: tim at May 1, 2004 at 05:47 AM

I am very curious as to what she has to say.

Posted by: JeffS at May 1, 2004 at 06:51 AM

That would mean that the rorting of oil-for-food contract that's been going on would have to have been common knowledge throughout the UN and many who work theircould be implicated for not speaking up earlier...

On the other hand, 'secret' may mean "we haven't told you it exists" rather than just "we're not letting you read it"

Posted by: RainDog at May 1, 2004 at 07:28 AM

Damn! Preview is my friend, so is being fully awake... "there could" not "theircould"

Posted by: RainDog at May 1, 2004 at 07:30 AM

Time to get rid of the money-sucking vampires. The UN has to be replaced. It doesn't seem to be accountable to anyone and seems to have become some huge social club for third world dictators and their Western, leftist, supporters.

Has the UN done anything of note recently? I mean besides having conferences denouncing Israel and other Western nations?

How many peoples have clean drinking water this year, who didn't last year, because of the UN's efforts? How many disputes between nations were resolved at the UN last year? How many wars?

Posted by: Chris Josephson at May 1, 2004 at 10:23 AM

The U.N. is indeed run by idiots and the biggest idiot is Annan himself!
In the leed up to the bombing of the U.N. building in Baghdad last year which killed U.N. Rep. Sergio Vieira deMello, the U.N. didn't want to be associated with the American occupation there so it told the U.S. that its protection, ie. tanks etc. would not not be required, because they, the U.N. had said that this close association was responsible for attacks on aid workers and U.N. personel in Afghanistan. However after the baghdad attack, Kofi Annan criticised the United States by saying that the U.N. had indeed turned down an offer for protection by the Americans but they (the U.N.) shouldn't have been allowed to refuse this offer of protection!!! IDIOTS!

Posted by: Brian. at May 1, 2004 at 07:06 PM

Remember the video that UNFIL troops in South Lebanon made of Hizbollah kidnapping Israeli soldiers, using the famous white SUVs? Kofi spent almost a year denying its existence. Then when they let the Israelis view it, it was only after faces had been blacked out.

Then there was the Kfar Kana incident in which Artillery shells hit the UN compound killing civilians sheltering there. The artillery was radar controlled in response to katyusha rockets fired by Hizbollah. The "operative" would leave the shelter of the compound with his donkey carrying the missile and some 200 yds out would set it up and fire it before fleeing back to the compound. Kofi sent a Dutch General who accused Shimon Peres, then Prime Minister, of deliberately targeting civilians.

Posted by: Barry at May 2, 2004 at 02:53 AM