News Release

Oil for Food: What’s the Real Scandal?


Former head of the U.N. Oil for Food Program in Iraq and assistant secretary general of the U.N., Halliday resigned in protest in 1998. Currently in New York City, he is available for a limited number of interviews. Halliday said today: “The Oil for Food ‘scandal’ is not a scandal of the United Nations, but rather of the member states, particularly of Washington and London.”
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Author of the article in the current issue of Harper’s magazine, “The U.N. is Us: Exposing Saddam Hussein’s Silent Partner,” Gordon said today: “What is being consistently overlooked is a distinction of enormous significance: the U.N. is being attacked for the policies and failures of particular member nations. The Oil for Food Program was not some concoction of Kofi Annan’s. It was created by a vote of the members of the Security Council. And every aspect of how the program ran — what goods were allowed, the monitoring procedures, the transfer of funds, everything — was explicitly established by the members of the Security Council. Kofi Annan did not have a vote; but the U.S. and Britain did, and they approved every resolution and decision that determined how the Oil for Food Program worked.”

Sacks was involved in repeated efforts to get humanitarian relief into Iraq during the 1990s. In 2002 he was fined by the U.S. government for a 1997 trip which helped bring $40,000 in medicine to children in Iraq in violation of U.S. sanctions. Sacks said today: “The U.N.’s Oil for Food Program didn’t begin until 1996, more than six years after sanctions began. A ‘scandal’ in a program that didn’t yet exist cannot be blamed for six years of Iraqi deaths. When the Oil for Food Program was finally allowed, it permitted $4 billion in oil sales a year for humanitarian needs: this came to $10 per person per month for each Iraqi living in South/Central Iraq. Of the total amount of oil sales, 30 percent went immediately for war reparations — $16 billion to Kuwaiti Petroleum — while the U.N. reported 960,000 Iraqi children were chronically malnourished.”
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Mahajan is author of the book Full Spectrum Dominance: U.S. Power in Iraq and Beyond. He said today: “The recent resurgence of the Oil for Food ‘scandal,’ through Sen. Norm Coleman and others, very conveniently gives the U.S. government a way to keep Kofi Annan on the defensive so he criticizes neither the U.S. assault on Fallujah nor anything around the severely flawed prospective Iraqi elections. For all the talk of a lack of U.N. accountability, consider that after the August 2003 bombing of the U.N. in Iraq there was a full investigation and several people, some high up, were fired or demoted. Now there’s an investigation into Oil for Food, which has reached as high as Benon Sevan, Director of the Office of the Iraq Program. Compare this to the total lack of accountability in the U.S. government following 9/11, administration stonewalling over the 9/11 commission’s creation, and the minimal investigation of corruption in the Coalition Provisional Authority, which has not involved any high officials.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167