[T]hanks to U.S. military action that Mr. Annan did everything in his power to prevent--we learned that he had presided over the greatest bribery scheme in history, known as Oil for Food. We learned that Benon Sevan, Mr. Annan's trusted confidant in charge of administering the program, had himself been a beneficiary of Iraqi kickbacks to the tune of $160,000. We learned that Mr. Annan's chief of staff, Iqbal Riza, had ordered potentially incriminating documents to be destroyed. We learned that Mr. Annan and his deputy, Louise Frechette, were both aware of the kickback scheme but failed to report it to the Security Council, as their fiduciary duties required. However, we haven't yet learned whether the senior Annan illegally helped his son Kojo obtain a discounted Mercedes, an issue on which the Secretary General has stonewalled reporters.
Earlier this year, Mr. Annan was also forced to place eight senior U.N. procurement officials on leave pending investigations on bribery and other charges. Vladimir Kuznetsov, the head of the U.N. budget-oversight committee, was indicted this year on money-laundering charges. Alexander Yakovlev, another procurement official, pled guilty to skimming nearly $1 million off U.N. contracts. The U.N.'s own office of Internal Oversight found that U.N. peacekeeping operations had mismanaged some $300 million in expenditures.
Mr. Annan's response to all this has been a model of blame-shifting, obfuscation and patently insincere mea culpas, apparently justified by his view that a Secretary General has more important things to do than administer his own organization.
14 December 2006
Kofi Klatch Kontinued
The editorialists at the Wall Street Journal (no subscription required) elaborated today on a point I touched on in my gripe yesterday: