Stuff I think you should know

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Just more selective enforcement

The United Nations unfortunately will get back thousands of pages of documents that an investigator retained when he quit the U.N. oil-for-food probe - but only after Congress completes its own examination of the humanitarian program, officials said. Robert Parton resigned from the U.N.-backed Independent Inquiry Committee in April, because the U.N. ignored evidence critical of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The chief of the probe, former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, denies there was a cover-up.

Three U.S. Congressional committees investigating the Iraq oil-for-food program later filed subpoenas for Parton and the documents, though he turned them over to just one - the House International Relations Committee, led by Henry Hyde, R-Ill. Volcker's probe filed restraining orders blocking the other subpoenas.

Parton has reached a three-way deal under which he will give interviews to all three congressional committees, Hyde spokesman Sam Stratman said Thursday. The United Nations will drop charges that he violated a confidentiality agreement, and Hyde's committee will return the material once it completes its own inquiries into oil-for-food and Volcker's committee itself, Stratman said. Volcker's probe was independent of the United Nations but received its funding and mandate from it. Only after its reports are released will Hyde's committee return the 16,000 pages of documents, Stratman said. "The reports from this committee will address both the substantive allegations surrounding the oil-for-food program as well as the U.N.'s ability to investigate itself," Stratman said.

In an interim report March 29, Volcker's panel concluded there wasn't enough evidence to prove Annan influenced the awarding of an oil-for-food contract to a Swiss company that employed his son, Kojo Annan. It faulted him for not properly investigating allegations of conflict of interest in the awarding of the contract. Another report earlier this month faulted Annan and his deputy, Canada's Louise Frechette, for tolerating corruption and doing little to stop Saddam's manipulations.

The other congressional probes are led by Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn.,and Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn. Staff for Shays and Coleman refused to comment on the deal with Parton, only saying that all crimes will be investigated.


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