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May 24, 2004

UNSCAM Update: Even the lapdogs are starting to bark

The NY Sun's UN correspondent Benny Avni reports on the journalists asking tough questions on the normally genteel UN beat:

‘We are unable, because of U.N. control of the documents, to even verify or disprove any of the allegations because we don’t have basic information,” one particularly aggressive reporter shouted at Secretary-General Annan last week. “Why are you not releasing some of the basic information?”

The always soft-spoken Mr. Annan, who is usually treated with reverence everywhere he goes, rarely encounters such accusatory tones.

Mr. Annan uses reverence to the U.N.’s advantage. When asked why the U.N. should be involved in hot spots such as post-Saddam Iraq, Mr. Annan evokes the “legitimacy” and “prestige” that the institution brings to the table.

But now there is oil-for-food, the scandal surrounding the contracts to which that impolite reporter demanded access.

Mr. Annan refuses to let anyone see the contracts besides his hand-picked independent investigator, even though the documents were released long ago to members of the Security Council committee charged with overseeing the program.

Scandals plague Turtle Bay these days, and it handles them as awkwardly as the Kennedy administration might have, had it been forced to explain its own White House sex shenanigans in this cable news and Internet era. Mr. Annan’s staff on the 38th floor is just not accustomed to being questioned so often and with so much vigor on what they still seem to consider their own little intimate affairs.

May 24, 2004 at 01:48 PM | Permalink


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