A recent Accuracy in Media conference focused on the epidemic of corruption in Washington, D.C. and the treatment of whistleblowers. Current and former employees of the FBI and the EPA came forward to discuss how they have been victimized, punished and even forced out of their agencies for blowing the whistle on corruption. Another case has come to our attention involving a whistleblower at the U.S. mission to the United Nations. For providing accurate information to the Congress about the financial affairs of the U.N., this employee, Linda Shenwick, has been punished, isolated and may be forced out. The retaliation against her is being directed by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
This controversy cuts to the heart of the issue of the so-called U.S. “debt” to the United Nations. In calculating this alleged debt, Senator Rod Grams obtained e-mail records revealing that the U.S. had been notified by the U.N. that it had received a $42 million credit because peacekeeping expenses had been less than anticipated. That meant our so-called “debt” should be reduced by $42 million. This was a potential saving of $42 million to the American taxpayers. Yet the e-mails show that Robert Orr, a top official at the U.S. mission, wanted this information kept from Linda Shenwick “so the Congress doesn?t find out about it.” Shenwick, a career State Department employee, serves as a financial and management analyst. She was the informal liaison to Congress, providing members with accurate information about the U.S.-U.N. financial relationship.
Grams charged that the e-mails show that State Department personnel at the U.N. were engaged in a conspiracy to withhold information from Congress. The purpose of the conspiracy was to establish a back-door effort to fund the U.N., to provide the world organization with more money than Congress had approved. Grams, chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on International Operations, held a hearing on the matter, and, in response, the State Department announced that its own inspector general was launching an investigation.
The effort to deceive Congress is apparently being directed by U.N. officials themselves. Articles in the Washington Times note that some of Shenwick?s troubles stem from asking too many questions about waste, fraud and abuse in the U.N. Secretariat, headed by U.N. chief Kofi Anna. Shenwick was the U.S. delegate to a U.N. budget panel that examines U.N. spending practices. The head of that budget panel, a socialist U.N. bureaucrat from Tanzania, demanded that she had to go. Secretary of State Albright complied, refusing to renominate her to the panel.
The retaliation from U.S. officials included Shenwick?s demotion, in preparation for a transfer. She was even told to close her door and not talk to Congress. Senator Grams says this has created “a culture of fear” at the U.S. mission to the U.N., where employees are afraid they will lose their jobs if they tell the truth to Congress.
Nine members of the U.S. Senate, including Majority Leader Trent Lott, have written to Albright, warning her to stop the retaliation against Shenwick. Before Congress pays one more dime to the U.N., it ought to get to the bottom of this scandal. It looks like Albright—and not Shenwick—is the one who should go.