Monday, June 14, 2004
A U.N. official tells me the Volcker committee's first choices were turned off not just by lack of subpoena or oath-requiring powers — which Volcker considers "not fatal" — but by an inadequate budget to dig into the largest financial rip-off in history. As a result, after nearly three months, a foot-dragging bureaucracy has successfully frustrated the independent committee dependent on it. "Some people have indicated eagerness to show us what they have, but we haven't had the staff, the office space, the administrative structure. I haven't even had a press person."
UN staff involved? More here.
Washington --- An independent investigation of the United Nations' controversial Iraq oil-for-food program is close to releasing an interim report this summer that is expected to focus on U.N. staff involvement in the program.
While the program helped millions of Iraqis, it also had long been the subject of speculation and accusations that included stealing by Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein. Some called it ''UNSCAM,'' a play on UNSCOM, the acronym for a U.N. weapons inspection operation in Iraq. U.S. Gen. Tommy Franks, in Iraq after leading the successful U.S. invasion, labeled it an "oil-for-palaces" program, a reference to the many grand structures Saddam built.
Questions about the program accelerated in January when an Iraqi newspaper printed the names of 270 officials and others from 46 countries who had supposedly received vouchers for discounted oil from Iraq and then sold them to third parties.
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