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The UN supervises Saddam

Today’s New York Times carries an engrossing account of the massive corruption in the UN-supervised Iraqi oil-for-food program: “Hussein’s regime skimmed billions for aid program.” The article is deficient only in failing to disclose how the billions of dollars in kickbacks on oil contracts were spent, but it is mandatory reading.
The United Nations bureaucrats come off as complicit fools:

United Nations overseers say they were unaware of the systematic skimming of oil-for-food revenues. They were focused on running aid programs and assuring food deliveries, they add.
The director of the Office of Iraq Programs, Benon V. Sevan, declined to be interviewed about the oil-for-food program. In written responses to questions sent by e-mail, his office said he learned of the 10 percent kickback scheme from the occupation authority only after the end of major combat operations.
In the few instances when Mr. Sevan’s office suspected an irregularity, the statement said, it notified the sanctions committee, “which then requested member states concerned to investigate.”

This is a story that Therese Raphael originally explored in a more provocative fashion earlier this month in the Wall Street Journal: “Saddam’s global payroll.”

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