May 10, 2006

Any Questions?

White House Briefing: Froomkin invites YOUR questions for Tony Snow, who starts his new job today.

Here is my question. It's a two-parter. See this previous post for the URL links.

* * *

In the weeks immediately following the US occupation of Baghdad, there was a race to get hold of records detailing bribes and other payments made to Saddam Hussein's regime in contravention of the UN oil-for-food program. Ahmed Chalabi hired a KPMG accountant, Mr. Hankes-Drielsma, to investigate where the funds went. But when Chalabi's office was raided by US forces, the KPMG papers disappeared and Hankes-Drielsma’s hard disc was destroyed. The KPMG report was never released. Meanwhile, the Iraqi Board of Supreme Audit had appointed international accountants Ernst and Young to perform a separate investigation. But in July 2004 Ihsan Karim, the Iraqi official heading the investigation, was killed in a mysterious bomb attack. Were these incidents part of a concerted US effort to locate and control all information about breaches of the UN oil-for-food program, and if so, has any evidence of US breaches been with-held from the public?

And a follow-up question:

The alleged failure of the UN oil-for-food sanctions was cited by the US and its allies as a reason for going to war, and has since been cited as proof that the UN is in urgent need of reform. However, given that the US and its allies were themselves heavily involved in such sanctions-busting - as evidenced by the recent Australian Wheat Board revelations - does the President now believe that the UN deserves an apology, and that peaceful sanctions should be preferred over pre-emptive military intervention?


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