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Hidden Secrets of the U.N.

Lee Feinstein of the Council on Foreign Relations was on MSNBC assuring the public that U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has a good record of supporting the U.S. Feinstein, a former Clinton administration official, said the only exceptions have been a few comments critical of U.S. policy in Iraq. But he indicated that now that the White House has endorsed Annan and he has announced that he wants to send U.N. personnel back into Iraq to help with the elections, the U.S.-U.N. relationship is back on track. 

In fact, however, Annan’s anti-American record is a long one. The facts show that Annan

In anticipation of Annan’s visit to Washington, D.C., Nora Boustany of the Washington Post wrote an article favorably highlighting a new Annan-commissioned report on how to make the world body more effective. This really means expanding the power of the U.N. while restricting the U.S. under the cover of “reform.”

Boustany conveniently omitted the fact that Yevgeny Primakov represented Russia on the Annan panel that produced the report. Primakov, the former Russian foreign minister, was always known for his close ties to Saddam Hussein and was alleged by Seymour Hersh in the April 5, 1999, issue of the New Yorker magazine to have accepted an $800,000 payment from the Iraqi government.

Scott Ritter, the former U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq who turned into a critic of U.S. policy toward the Saddam Hussein regime, claims that Primakov’s sister ran a Russian oil company that bought oil from Iraq under the oil-for-food program and sold it at full market value primarily to U.S. companies. Ritter claims the Clinton administration turned a “blind eye” to the deal because then-U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright wanted Russian help in dealing with the Iraqi regime.

Ritter has lost credibility, stemming from his flip-flop on Iraq policy and personal moral scandals. But his charges about corruption in the growing oil-for-food scandal cannot be dismissed out of hand. It was under Albright as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. that Linda Shenwick, the budget analyst at the U.S. Mission, was harassed and eventually fired because she was raising alarms about waste, fraud and abuse in U.N. programs. The public interest law firm Judicial Watch defended Shenwick, who had to sue the State Department for damages for persecuting her. Curiously, the Colin Powell State Department hired Clinton lawyer Gregory Craig to defend itself against Shenwick. There was a settlement, but Shenwick was not allowed to return to the U.S. Mission.

Did Albright suspect that Shenwick would uncover the oil-for-food scandal or the deals with Primakov? What U.S. companies were involved? The U.N’s belated help in Iraq should not preclude answers.  The media should demand them.