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March 29, 2004
UN Shifts Blame on Baghdad Bombing in August

The UN finally released its official report on the August bombing of the Baghdad UN headquarters, and Kofi Annan has cashiered the chief security specialist and reprimanded two others:

The UN secretary general has asked for security coordinator Tun Myat to quit after a scathing report on last year's bomb attack on the UN's HQ in Baghdad. But Kofi Annan refused an offer to resign from his deputy Louise Frechette, his spokesman Fred Eckhard told reporters at the United Nations. ...

The report suggests that UN officials failed to ask searching questions before deciding to return UN staff to Baghdad, under heavy international pressure. The report was particularly critical of two UN officials in Baghdad, accusing them of "a dereliction of duty" and "a lethargy that is bordering on gross negligence" for failing to shield the office windows with blast-resistant film.

The report also blamed the deceased special envoy Sergio Viera de Mello for not considering the notion that the UN office could come under attack. However, it apparently doesn't mention that the US believed it would be attacked and offered US forces for security, an offer that the UN sniffed at, claiming it would undermine their neutrality. The BBC also doesn't mention that the UN used former Saddam regime security forces -- the same ones that used to spy on the UN -- as its security detail right up to the bombing.

While it's possible the UN report covers these unbelievably naive and foolish errors, those decisions were likely made higher up than the Baghdad mission. If the report doesn't take senior UN management to task (read: Annan), then this is worse than a whitewash.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 29, 2004 6:57 PM

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