The usual gang of conservative attack dogs are using today’s oil-for-food report (which, incidentally, clears Kofi Annan of any wrongdoing) to coordinate another round of feckless U.N.-bashing. Here are five facts you won’t be hearing from the talking heads:
1) The U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority, which took over responsibility for Iraqi oil revenues following the invasion, can no longer account for $8.8 billion of Iraqi oil money — twice the amount Saddam Hussein was thought to have gained from oil-for-food kickbacks.
2) Unlike the United Nations, which spearheaded an independent investigation of oil-for-food, the Bush administration has:
– Declined to take part in the whistle-blower case against Custer Battles, the firm accused of defrauding U.S. taxpayers of $50 million in Iraq reconstruction funds.
– Offered Halliburton early access to damning audits of its business practices in Iraq so it could scrub out the parts it didn’t like.
– Still failed to organize an overarching, independent investigation into detainee abuse scandals at U.S. prisons, nearly a year after the Abu Ghraib photos were released.
3) None of the money involved came from American taxpayers. Oil-for-food allowed the Iraqi government to sell Iraqi oil to pay for food, infrastructure, medicine and humanitarian goods. No U.S. money was involved.
4) The Bush administration dropped the ball on stopping the corruption (not once, but dozens of times). U.N. Ambassador John Negroponte “had the power to veto all sales of Iraqi oil and all Iraqi purchases of goods financed with oil-for-food revenues,” and failed to do so despite U.N. administrators identifying at least 70 cases for potential over-pricing of oil between 2001 and 2002.
5) A new Transparency International report released this month finds that Iraq is becoming “the biggest corruption scandal in history” under U.S. leadership.