Saddam's influence in high places

Ariel Cohen:

"The latest revelations that the deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein used oil sales under the U.N. oil-for-food program to buy friends and influence policy around the world should turn on an alarm in Washington, New York, Paris and other capitals. Saddam's influence buying is only a part of a broader phenomenon. Other oil-producing countries are engaged in similar activities on an even larger scale.

"Several important lessons arise from discovery of Saddam's buddy list. First, this is just the beginning: There are thousands of documents in Baghdad that American and Iraqi intelligence officers need to catalog, translate, analyze and investigate. The precedent — the Eastern German intelligence service STASI archives, which exposed hundreds of spies in Europe and America.

"Second, the U.N. may have done more damage than good in Iraq — and may do so again. The U.N. oil-for-food officials knew about the global bribery effort and did nothing to stop it. Moreover, it is possible the officials in that august body facilitated and benefited from at least some of the transactions.

A key question is whether a 'Mr. Sevan' who allegedly received oil export vouchers in Panama is the same person as the U.N. Assistant Secretary General Benon V. Sevan, who ran the oil-for-food program. So far, U.N. Secretary General Koffi Annan has refused an internal investigation, and the U.N. bureaucracy has stonewalled and resisted an external investigation of the oil-for-food program."

I suggest the slueths that have been wasting their time looking at the President's National Guard records spend their time investigating something really important starting with Mr. Sevan.

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