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Friday, September 09, 2005

Oil-for-Food: The Real Scandal

JOY GORDON has written extensively on the Oil-for-Food program,
including articles in Harper's Magazine and Le Monde Diplomatique. She
said today: "The Volcker Committee's final report focuses a great deal
on improprieties that had little impact on the Oil-for-Food program.
Where it adds up the actual money involved, it finds that the amount of
money that went into Iraq illicitly through the program totaled $1.8
billion over the seven-year history of the program. This is far less
than had been claimed in earlier CIA and GAO reports, and by contrast it
is much much less than the amount of Iraqi funds that were mismanaged by
the U.S. or disappeared altogether during its occupation of Iraq -- in
just a 14-month period. Just one example, according to the audit reports
that have been released, was that no information could be provided about
what happened to $8.8 billion of Iraqi funds sent to ministries under
U.S. control. The Volcker reports' claims of financial improprieties are
minor compared to the magnitude and the speed with which Iraq's funds
disappeared once they were in the hands of the U.S. occupation."

IAN WILLIAMS said today,
"The Volcker Report lacks a sense of proportion, although it grudgingly
admitted that the U.N. Oil-For-Food program was a success and saved
untold Iraqi lives from the ravages of sanctions. ... It is time for
other U.N. members to realize that when the Bush administration talks
about 'reform,' it means beating the U.N. into subservience. Other
members should stop worrying about consensus on the Sixtieth Anniversary
Statement, vote for its contents in the General Assembly and work to
implement them, with or without Bolton or Bush's assent."

BERT SACKS,
Active for years with the humanitarian group Voices in the
Wilderness, Sacks was fined by the U.S. government after going to Iraq
and distributing medicine. He said today: "The real scandal with
Oil-for-Food is that $64 billion of Iraq's own wealth was all that was
permitted by the U.S. through the U.N. Security Council. After war
reparations and other deductions were made, this came to less than a
dollar a day for each of 20 million Iraqis in the South-Central regions
for all their needs -- food, water, electricity, medicine, everything.
Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children died because the limit of a
dollar a day was 'woefully inadequate' to meet their needs -- and the
U.S. and the U.N. Security Council knew that. That's the real scandal."

KATHY KELLY, co-founder of Voices in the Wilderness. This August, U.S.
Federal District Judge John Bates ordered payment of a $20,000 fine
against the group for violating the sanctions on Iraq. She said today:
"The Oil-for-Food program was intended to ease the crippling effects of
economic sanctions which primarily punished Iraqi civilians. By
supplying 27 million Iraqis with food and medicine in exchange for
letting Saddam Hussein export oil, the program saved many lives, but it
was always too little and too late. ... Voices in the Wilderness broke
the sanctions at least 70 times. We brought donated medicines to
children and families in Iraq, from 1996-2002. ... Our group was fined
$20,000 for bringing this medicine. The judge agreed that it was lawful
and proper for the U.S. government to deny needed drugs and medical
supplies to Iraq's most vulnerable citizens, despite the evidence that
several hundred thousand innocent children were dying because of brutal
economic sanctions. ... Voices will not pay a penny of this fine."

from the Institute for Public Accuracy

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