Friday, April 29, 2005

UN says you can't call investigators who quit on us.

UN: Well, this is amusing, wonder what do they have to say that Volcker is calling up people saying they can't talk to them.

WASHINGTON — Paul Volcker (search), the man tasked with leading the U.N.-approved investigation into the Oil-for-Food program, has told key American lawmakers that Congress cannot subpoena two of his former investigators, FOX News has learned. Volcker called the chairmen of at least three congressional committees looking into the $64 billion Oil-for-Food (search) program Thursday and told them the investigators, who resigned two weeks ago, have diplomatic immunity and therefore cannot be called to testify before their panels. A spokesman for Volcker confirmed the calls. "It was a courtesy call, not a command. To subpoena investigators would harm the integrity of the investigation,” the spokesman said. Several congressional committees want to subpoena Parton and Duncan to testify about what they know, and lawmakers are now angry over Volcker’s decision to invoke diplomatic immunity for the two. Privately, congressional sources told FOX News that they believe Volcker is terrified of the damage the investigators' testimony could do to his credibility. Publicly, there is a more diplomatic stance from a spokesman for Rep. Henry Hyde (search), R-Ill., chairman of the House International Relations Committee. Hyde's spokesman said the issues of confidentiality and immunity were raised in the phone conversation between Volcker and Hyde. “The issue of access to current and former U.N. staff is not settled,” the spokesman said. Rep. Chris Shays (search), R-Conn., chairman of a House Government Reform subcommittee, told FOX News that his panel is consulting with legal counsel about how to proceed. "This lack of transparency is part of the problem,” Shays said. U.N. experts said the showdown between Volcker and Congress will be critical. “It's also being pointed out that if Mr. Volcker is asserting that his team has U.N. diplomatic immunity, then he is admitting that his committee is not in fact independent but a part of the very organization it is supposed to be objectively investigating,” said Nile Gardiner of the Heritage Foundation.

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