Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Kofi Krisped

One nice thing about blogs is that they can link you to the stuff that generates news stories. Organizations always like to publicize their reports, and once it's on the Net, anyone can look at it.

Take, for example, the UN independent inquiry that's looking into the "Oil for Food" scandal. Today it released its report, causing a flurry of news stories. (You can find the complete interim report here.)

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan suggested that the report cleared him of any wrongdoing. And if you read this CBC News report, you might take that for granted. But look at what the report actually says (on page 78 of the document, which corresponds to page 81 of the PDF file):

The Committee finds: Weighing all of the evidence presented in this Report and the credibility of the witnesses, that the evidence is not reasonably sufficient to show that the Secretary-General knew that Cotecna had submitted a bid on the humanitarian inspection contract in 1998.

"The evidence is not reasonably sufficient." That's a far cry from exoneration, which is what Mr. Annan would have the world believe.

Then there's this paragraph:

The Committee finds: In light of the Sunday Telegraph article and the complaint of a conflict of interest because of Kojo Annan's employment, as well as the published information concerning the alleged illicit payments to the Bhutto family, the inquiry initiated by the Secretary-General was inadequate, and the Secretary-General should have referred the matter to an appropriate United Nations department (Office of Internal Oversight Services and/or Office of Legal Affairs) for a thorough and independent investigation.

In other words, Annan's internal inquiry botched its task so badly that there was no way it could have avoided the stench of whitewash.

Annan has said he won't resign, and he's got a point on his favor: this is an interim report only. The inquiry is still investigating, with the final report due in the fall. It'll probably take the final report to convince Annan of how bad things at the UN have really gotten.

You know, we may want to consider making Judge Gomery the next Ambassador to the UN. He'd fit right in ...