Blogs by E T Waldron
Where are the voices for Children and Peace in this story?
11/25/2004 10:20:22 AM
Here is the story much of the press and media refuses to cover.
Here is the story much of the press and media refuse to cover.
If it had been something against the present administration it would be front page news shouted the world over for months without end. Check the date of this story, and even with the investigation and senate hearings finding even more money used and more people involved, the biggest scandal of all time, and Kofi Annan getting a no confiidence vote, from the UN,,,the world media still refuses to cover this story as it should! What a shameful admission of gross bias and negligence!
Remember many thousands of Iraqi children were dying of starvation while Saddam and his cronies were doing this!!!
No longer just a supposition , but verified recorded fact!Note that this took place all during the Clinton administration, could that be why it isn't being covered?!?
April 18, 2004, 11:36 p.m.
There appears to be much worse news to uncover in the Oil-for-Food scandal.
By Claudia Rosett
Beyond the billions in graft, smuggling, and lavish living for Saddam Hussein that were the hallmarks of the United Nations Oil-for-Food program in Iraq, there is one more penny yet to drop.
It's time to talk about Oil-for-Terror.
Especially with the U.N.'s own investigation into Oil-for-Food now taking shape, and more congressional hearings in the works, it is high time to focus on the likelihood that Saddam may have fiddled Oil-for-Food contracts not only to pad his own pockets, buy pals, and acquire clandestine arms — but also to fund terrorist groups, quite possibly including al Qaeda.
There are at least two links documented already. Both involve oil buyers picked by Saddam and approved by the U.N. One was a firm with close ties to a Liechtenstein trust that has since been designated by the U.N. itself as "belonging to or affiliated with Al Qaeda." The other was a Swiss-registered subsidiary of a Saudi oil firm that had close dealings with the Taliban during Osama bin Laden's 1990's heyday in Afghanistan.
These cases were reported in a carefully researched story published last June by Marc Perelman of the New York-based Forward, relying not only on interviews, but on corporate-registry documents and U.S. and U.N. terror-watch lists. It was an important dispatch but sank quickly from sight. At that stage, the U.N. was still busy praising its own $100-billion-plus Oil-for-Food program, even while trying quietly to strip out the huge graft overlay from the remaining $10 billion or so in contracts suddenly slated for handover to the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). That was shortly before the records kept in Baghdad by Saddam began surfacing in such damning profusion that Secretary-General Kofi Annan was finally forced last month to stop stonewalling and agree to an independent investigation — though just how independent remains to be seen.
As it now appears, Oil-for-Food pretty much evolved into a BCCI with a U.N. label. The stated aim of the program, which ran from 1996-2003, was to reduce the squeeze of sanctions on ordinary Iraqis by allowing Saddam to sell oil strictly to buy food and other relief supplies. As Oil-for-Food worked in practice, however, the program gave Saddam rich opportunity not only to pad his own pockets, but to fund almost anything and anyone else he chose, while the U.N. assured the world that all was well. (For the full saga, see my article in the May issue of Commentary, "The Oil-for-Food Scam: What Did Kofi Annan Know and When Did He Know It?").
For a sample of the latitude enjoyed by Saddam, there's Treasury's announcement last week that the U.S., in its latest round of efforts to recover Saddam's loot, is asking U.N. member states to freeze the assets of a worldwide group of eight front companies and five individuals that were "procuring weapons, skimming funds, operating for the Iraqi Intelligence Service, and doing business in support of the fallen Saddam Hussein regime." The list includes a Dubai-based firm, Al Wasel & Babel General Trading, a major contractor under the Oil-for-Food program that turned out to be a front company set up by Saddam's regime specifically to sell goods (and procure arms) via the program — right under the U.N.'s approving eye. Indeed, Al Wasel & Babel's website boasts that the company was set up in 1999 especially to "cater to the needs of Iraq Government under 'Oil for Food Program.' "
HOW SADDAM GOT HIS WAY
In this context, which suggests just how easily money might also have been passed right along to terrorists, Perelman's tale of terrorist links deserves a reprise. We will get to that below. The details are complex, which in matters of terrorist financing tends to be part of the point. Complications provide cover. So before we dive into a welter of names and links, let's take a look at how Oil-for-Food was configured and run by the U.N. in ways that left the program wide open not only to the abuses and debaucheries by now well publicized, but also to the funneling of money to terrorists — if Saddam so chose.
And though this avenue remains to be explored, it is at least worth noting that the explosive growth of Oil-for-Food — from a limited program for Iraqi relief introduced in 1996 to a kickback-wracked fiesta of fraud and money-laundering by the late 1990s and beyond — coincided neatly with the period in which al Qaeda really took off. It was in 1998 that Oil-for-Food began to expand and more fully accommodate Saddam's scams. If allegations detailed in a Wall Street Journal story on March 11 prove correct, 1998 was also the year that Saddam may have begun sending oil to a Panamanian front company linked to the head of the program, Benon Sevan. And it was in 1998 that Osama bin Laden issued his fatwa, specifically denouncing U.S. intervention in Iraq and urging Muslims to "Kill the Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they can find it."
To be sure, there is no evidence of a causal connection. But there is certainly room to wonder whether Saddam, a master of manipulation, on record as sharing bin Laden's sentiments at least in regard to U.S. involvement in Iraq, would not have been tempted to involve himself in the terrorist boom of the next few years. In principle he was still under sanctions, but Oil-for-Food gave him loopholes through which billions of dollars could pass.
As Oil-for-Food worked in practice, there were two glaring flaws that lent themselves to manipulation by Saddam. One was the U.N. decision to allow Saddam to choose his own buyers of oil and suppliers of goods — an arrangement that Annan himself helped set up during negotiations in Baghdad in the mid-1990s, shortly before he was promoted to Secretary-General. The other problem was the U.N.'s policy of treating Saddam's deals as highly confidential, putting deference to Saddam's privacy above the public's right to know. Even the Iraqi people were denied access to the most basic information about the deals that were in theory being done in their name. The identities of the contractors, the amounts paid, the quantity and quality of goods, the sums, fees, interest, and precise transactions involved in the BNP Paribas bank accounts — all were kept confidential between Saddam and the U.N.
With Saddam allowed to assemble a secret roster of favorite business partners, the only hope of preserving any integrity under Oil-for-Food was that the U.N. would ferociously monitor every deal, and veto anything remotely suspect. Instead, the Security Council looked for weapons-related goods; the Secretariat looked for ways to expand the program (while collecting its three-percent commission on Saddam's oil sales); and Saddam looked for — and found — ways to pervert the program.
To grasp just how easily the U.N. let Saddam turn Oil-for-Food to his own ends, it helps to see his lists of contractors, which the U.N. kept confidential. Luckily, some lists have leaked, and in paging through the wonderland of Saddam's U.N.-approved clientele, including many hundreds of oil buyers and goods suppliers, what one finds is a vast web of business partners that — had the U.N. followed any reasonable policy of disclosure — should have set off major alarms from beginning to end of the program. Why, for instance, was Saddam allowed to peddle oil (especially under-priced oil — yielding fat profits) to clusters of what were clearly middlemen in such financial hideouts as Cyprus, Liechtenstein, and Panama? Was it wise to let him kick off the program by including among the first 50 or so oil buyers a full dozen based in Switzerland? Did nobody at the U.N. wonder about his choice of business partners — such as a holding company in the Seychelles; the Burmese state lumber enterprise; and the Center for Joint Projects at the executive committee of the Belarus-Russia Union?
On the suppliers' list, the entries are no less intriguing. To take just one typical example: On the vague and generic lists provided by the U.N. to the public, you can see that Saddam bought both milk and oil-industry equipment from Russia. Once you see the in-house spreadsheet, however, what emerges is that Saddam bought not only oil equipment, but more than $5 million worth of milk from a Russian state oil company, Zarubezhneft. What look like diverse suppliers in various countries in some cases track back to fronts elsewhere, or to parent companies that in the graft-rich environment of Oil-for-Food clearly had enough of an inside track with Saddam to garner hundreds of millions worth of business — hidden at least to some extent from both their competitors and the wider public, which was asked to trust the U.N.
In other words, Saddam did pretty much what he wanted, and the U.N. role seems to have consisted largely of occupying one more slot — and not a terribly vigilant one — on his patronage payroll.
AIDING AL QAEDA?
Which brings us to back to terrorist ties, and Perelman's story of June 20, 2003, for which the reporting checks out. In brief (hang on for the ride): One link ran from a U.N.-approved buyer of Saddam's oil, Galp International Trading Corp., involved near the very start of the program, to a shell company called ASAT Trust in Liechtenstein, linked to a bank in the Bahamas, Bank Al Taqwa. Both ASAT Trust and Bank Al Taqwa were designated on the U.N.'s own terror-watch list, shortly after 9/11, as entities "belonging to or affiliated with Al Qaeda." This Liechtenstein trust and Bahamian bank were linked to two closely connected terrorist financiers, Youssef Nada and Idris Ahmed Nasreddin — both of whom were described in 2002 by Treasury as "part of an extensive financial network providing support to Al Qaeda and other terrorist related organizations," and both of whom appear on the U.N.'s list of individuals belonging to or affiliated with al Qaeda.
The other tie between Oil-for-Food and al Qaeda, noted by Perelman, ran through another of Saddam's handpicked, Oil-for-Food oil buyers, Swiss-based Delta Services — which bought oil from Saddam in 2000 and 2001, at the height of Saddam's scam for grafting money out of Oil-for-Food by way of under-priced oil contracts. Now shut down, Delta Services was a subsidiary of a Saudi Arabian firm, Delta Oil, which had close ties to the Taliban during Osama bin Laden's heyday in Afghanistan in the late 1990s. In discussions of graft via Oil-for-Food, it has been assumed that the windfall profits were largely kicked back to Saddam, or perhaps used to sway prominent politicians and buy commercial lobbying clout. But that begs further inquiry. There was every opportunity here for Saddam not solely to pocket the plunder, but to send it along to whomever he chose — once he had tapped into the appropriate networks.
Are there other terrorist links? Did Saddam actually send money for terrorist uses through those named by the Forward? Given the more than $100 billion that coursed through Oil-for-Food, it would seem a very good idea to at least try to find out. And while there has been great interest so far in the stunning sums of money involved in this fraud, there has been rather less focus on the potential terrorist connections. While Treasury has been ransacking the planet for Saddam's plunder, there is, as far as I have been able to discover, no investigation so far in motion, or even in the making, focused specifically on terrorist ties in those U.N. lists of Saddam's favored partners.
Indeed, the whereabouts of the full U.N. Oil-for-Food records themselves remain, to say the least, confusing. By some official U.N. accounts, they were all turned over to the Coalition Provisional Authority; by others they were not. A U.N. source explained to me last week that some of the records might be in boxes somewhere on Long Island; yet another says they were sent over to the U.S. Mission to the U.N. Especially crucial, one might suppose, would be the bank records, which should show into which accounts, and where, the Oil-for-Food funds were paid. But what is clear is that no one has so far sat down with access to the full records and begun piecing together the labyrinth of Saddam's financing with an eye, specifically, to potential terrorist ties.
If there is a silver lining to all this, it is that those contract lists and bank records could be a treasure trove of information — an insider tour of what Saddam's regime knew about the dark side of global finance. There are plenty of signs that the secret U.N. lists became, in effect, Saddam's little black book (papered over with a blue U.N. label). Though perhaps "little" is not the correct word. The labyrinth was vast. The wisest move by the U.N., the U.S., or any other authority with full access to these records, would be to make them fully public — thus recruiting help from observers worldwide, not least the media, in digging through the hazardous waste left by Oil-for-Food. The issue is not simply how much Saddam pilfered, or even whether he bought up half the governments of Russia and France — but whether, under the U.N. charade of supervision, he availed himself of the huge opportunities to fund carnage under the cover of U.N. sanctions and humanitarian relief. We are way overdue to pick up that trail.
— Claudia Rosett is a senior fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, and an adjunct fellow with the Hudson Institute.
Post a Comment
More Blogs by E T Waldron
Ted Kennedy---Facts - Thursday, August 27, 2009
Demeaning - Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Truth in Believing - Tuesday, January 01, 2008
It's Apple Time - Monday, October 09, 2006
Suffering and Overcoming - Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Blind Ignorant Gullible Fools! - Monday, September 11, 2006
A Continuing Catastrophy - Saturday, August 26, 2006
Variety - Thursday, August 17, 2006
Belief Systems - Sunday, August 06, 2006
Deception and Denial - Thursday, July 27, 2006
Having an open mind - Friday, June 16, 2006
Words Make A Difference - Saturday, May 20, 2006
Does anybody really care what I think? - Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Walking through a field of wildflowers - Tuesday, March 28, 2006
My crazy dream of Saddam Hussein - Monday, March 27, 2006
Move over Nordette;-) - Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Two Deaths... - Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Suicide never an answer - Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Set Ablaze - Thursday, February 16, 2006
Immature Nonsense - Friday, February 10, 2006
Agree to disagree - Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Truth...War - Sunday, January 29, 2006
Don't Deny the Darkness Coming! - Sunday, January 22, 2006
Eclipse Methodology - Friday, January 13, 2006
PLEASE TAKE NOTE OF THE NOTES! - Tuesday, January 03, 2006
Like a Leaf in the Wind - Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Restless in California - Friday, December 23, 2005
No Time for Others - Saturday, December 17, 2005
BIG BROTHER - Saturday, December 03, 2005
Remembering Fireflies - Sunday, November 27, 2005
Live Deeply Without Reservation" - Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Try to be an anomaly! - Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Fed up with those who tell me I can't celebrate Christmas - Saturday, November 19, 2005
Fire! Fire! Fire! - Tuesday, November 15, 2005
What is Truth? - Friday, November 11, 2005
The Spin - Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Are We Really Going To Let Them Do It? - Wednesday, October 26, 2005
I'm Sick of the Race Card Rhetoric - Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Do You Have Wisdom? - Thursday, October 13, 2005
See How Other 's View Katrina Mess - Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Are You Really That Stupid and Ignorant? - Saturday, September 24, 2005
Unite (but only if you do it my way) - Saturday, September 17, 2005
Do You Care About Tomorrow? - Monday, September 12, 2005
Fair and Honest Debate On All Sides - Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Gov. Kathleen Blanco Refused Bush Aid - Monday, September 05, 2005
We've Got A Lot To Learn - Thursday, September 01, 2005
We've Come A Long Way Baby - Monday, August 29, 2005
How do you treat your memories? - Saturday, August 20, 2005
Someone asked so I answered - Thursday, August 18, 2005
The Stain On Humanity - Monday, August 15, 2005
The Emptiness that is Full - Thursday, August 11, 2005
Stop the world I want to get off ! - Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Never Learning to Win - Sunday, August 07, 2005
I can't take the bitching and moaning any more! - Wednesday, August 03, 2005
Habit and the big bang theory! - Monday, July 25, 2005
Past abuses part two - Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Just because I don't share past abuses - Monday, July 11, 2005
Join Your Energy with Others - Saturday, July 09, 2005
Crying over Dirty Rivers - Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Self-pity and blame-game crap - Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Not all Teens like that he got away with it! - Thursday, June 16, 2005
Free Press....free to exploit and deceive - Saturday, June 11, 2005
Some thoughts about fathers,good and bad - Wednesday, June 08, 2005
What's Your main Priorty? - Wednesday, June 01, 2005
War War Whadda we need it for? - Tuesday, May 24, 2005
A Night of Reality TV...Real War - Friday, May 20, 2005
Seeing the Whole Picture - Friday, May 13, 2005
Waterfalls and Loon Sounds - Sunday, May 08, 2005
You Think You Know Light? - Monday, May 02, 2005
Why Do We Hurt Each Other? - Thursday, April 21, 2005
Rant on silly one - Monday, April 18, 2005
Dealing with the bad days - Saturday, April 16, 2005
Know Your Species~ - Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Symbols of what some flowers and colors mean - Monday, April 04, 2005
Know Thyself - Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Traveling Thoughts - Monday, March 28, 2005
Some Presidents Opinion of the Bible - Thursday, March 24, 2005
Do you like storms... - Sunday, March 20, 2005
Forgotten Kids - Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Some Truths about what's True - Sunday, March 06, 2005
The silence that teaches - Thursday, March 03, 2005
Time, are we missing something? - Sunday, February 27, 2005
Why Tough Love - Wednesday, February 16, 2005
False Expectations (About Love) - Friday, February 11, 2005
Sharing B.Stein 's Star Article(don't miss it) - Wednesday, February 09, 2005
Haughty Peerless Loners - Monday, February 07, 2005
Are You Ready - Thursday, February 03, 2005
Making Right Choices - Wednesday, February 02, 2005
Acceptance - Monday, January 31, 2005
Tears and thanks for these brave people! - Saturday, January 29, 2005
Friends or Controllers - Friday, January 28, 2005
Pragmatism or Truth? - Thursday, January 27, 2005
Answers to Emails - Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Evil hit a Bullseye! - Monday, January 24, 2005
Zen and Silence - Sunday, January 23, 2005
Life is a Labryinth - Saturday, January 22, 2005
We Live and Learn - Wednesday, January 19, 2005
What Some Hollywood Stars Want - Tuesday, January 18, 2005
Sing Your Own Song - Monday, January 17, 2005
Pouring Coals on Enemies Heads - Sunday, January 16, 2005
The Phony Victim - Friday, January 14, 2005
A Dying (Plan)et - Monday, January 10, 2005
Thank you American Military for the outstanding aid - Wednesday, January 05, 2005
Making progress, always learning - Tuesday, January 04, 2005
TV or not TV - Monday, January 03, 2005
A whole lot of shedding - Saturday, January 01, 2005
What Can We Do? Plenty! - Tuesday, December 28, 2004
Thank You For Your Sacrifice ...I honor You! - Friday, December 24, 2004
Habit and the big bang theory! - Wednesday, December 22, 2004
Self-pity-poured out like rain - Sunday, December 19, 2004
Holiday Inspiration - Friday, December 17, 2004
Gifts For Soldiers - Sunday, December 12, 2004
What We Allow Ourselves To See - Wednesday, December 08, 2004
As the Dust Settles - Tuesday, December 07, 2004
Laundry without clothes pins - Monday, December 06, 2004
Poets A Different Breed - Sunday, December 05, 2004
Something on John Donne's For Whom The Bell Tolls - Thursday, December 02, 2004
Preferrence Over Principles - Wednesday, December 01, 2004
Tis The Season...Peace! - Monday, November 29, 2004
Does Anyone Care What The Soldiers Think? - Sunday, November 28, 2004
Where are the voices for Children and Peace in this story? - Thursday, November 25, 2004
How I Survive - Monday, November 15, 2004
I Am A Poet For Peace - Monday, November 08, 2004
Saddam Hussein and Clintons presidency! - Sunday, September 05, 2004
Answers to feelings... - Tuesday, July 13, 2004
Meditation My Way - Thursday, July 01, 2004
Tell Me The Truth ! - Saturday, June 12, 2004
What is a JESUS GRANNY? - Sunday, August 10, 2003