Tuesday, December 28, 2004

UN: At least Paul Volcker is upfront that the UN investigation into the oil for food programs is going to be a whitewash. "Volcker refused to speculate on why the council didn't stop the smuggling but indicated the issue would likely be addressed in his reports. An initial report is expected in January and a final report in the summer, he said. Volcker stressed his inquiry is focused on "what went wrong or right inside the UN" in managing the oil-for-food program. The investigation isn't just focusing on whether UN officials may be guilty of corruption, he said but on other issues: did UN officials follow proper procedures? Was there "bad administration rather than corrupt administration?" What were the directions from the Security Council, and what was its responsibility? But Volcker said the investigation can't avoid the question of smuggling, including why the Security Council didn't take action to stop it and the responsibility of the five permanent veto-wielding members - the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China. He said co-operation with his investigators has generally been good, though it varies by person and country, especially when it comes to financial matters. Volcker said his investigators have interviewed Saddam's associates and plan to interview more - but they have not asked to interview Saddam, though "maybe we should."

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