20 July 2006

While You Were Sleeping

I know how hard it is to keep track of everything. There's so much nooz coming at us from all directions. We got summer-y weather, we got people slipping on the ice, we got packs of felonious youth running wild in Coddletown. It's so hard to know what to pay attention to, even professional journalist icon Katie Couric has to have her ass dragged around in a bus in order to put her manicured finger in an statistically significant amount of wind.

With all this and more, it's easy to miss other big stuff. Remember that phony story about the UN oil-for-food corruption (invented by Karl Rove)? Well, guess what; it's returning convictions of people who ran loose on the executive levels of that ugly building at 760 United Nations Plaza.
While the United Nations frames its next response to crisis in the Middle East, its last grand venture in that region--Oil for Food--has finally resulted in a guilty verdict in open court. Last Thursday, a high-rolling, globe-trotting South Korean businessman named Tongsun Park was convicted in the Southern District of New York of conspiracy to launder money and act as an unregistered agent of Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

The Tongsun Park case has gotten remarkably little press, but it is both an important and a cautionary tale. It illustrates how easily the U.N., behind its veils of secrecy and diplomatic immunity, can be exploited by the most unscrupulous tyrants on the planet.

(A)ccording to (Samir) Vincent's testimony, Mr. Park said he could clinch a deal acceptable to Saddam if the Iraqis provided him with $10 million to take care of his "expenses" and his "people"--a reference that Mr. Vincent said he understood to include the only person he "knew of at the time"--"Boutros Boutros-Ghali." Mr. Vincent testified that during that crucial year--1996--he passed $1 million in cash to Mr. Park, $100,000 in an envelope, and $400,000 and then $500,000 in grocery bags. U.N. records show that Mr. Park, during roughly that period, made at least 20 visits to the official residence of the secretary general.

It is unlikely that any of this would have come to light had not the U.S., over U.N. protests, toppled Saddam in 2003. Congressional investigations have since found that the U.N. program opened the floodgates for anywhere from $10 billion to $17 billion in graft, scams and smuggling, some of which went to pay for Saddam's palaces, weapons and rewards for the families of Palestinian suicide bombers.

The biggest question is this: If the U.N. still has its back channels, which it almost certainly does, what is going on in them today?
This tale involves the former secretary general of the UN, unnamed North Korean government officials and the Canadian architect of the 1997 Kyoto Treaty. Read it all.

No comments: