May 1, 2004

Iraqi Official Claims List of Bribes in Baghdad

A member of the Iraqi Governing Council claimed yesterday that the IGC has a list of people who were bribed by Saddam Hussein's regime in a development that threatens to expand the corruption scandal past the United Nations and the Oil-For-Food Program (via Friends of Saddam):

An Iraqi official said today there was a list of cash bribes made by Saddam Hussein's government to journalists, politicians and groups in connection with the US$67 billion ($108.92 billion) UN-run oil-for-food programme.

Jalal Talabani, a Kurdish member of the Iraqi Governing Council, said Iraqi officials combing Saddam's files had not decided whether to release the list as part of a burgeoning scandal over the defunct programme.

"We have a list of cash paid to journalists, personalities, groups and parties," Talabani told a news conference after conferring with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan over an Iraqi interim government.

Reuters, through The New Zealand News, reports that this list contains different names than the previously-disclosed list of 270 people and organizations that received options on oil sales. The list purportedly contains at least one "senior UN official," and the inclusion of journalists presents the interesting possibility of explaining some of the relentless and biased media approach to the liberation of Iraq.

At the moment, Talabani is reluctant to release the list to any of the several investigations under way, and for good reason: some of these efforts represent a vehicle to protect the guilty rather than expose them. My suggestion would be to make the list public as quickly as possible so that those who would shield people from embarassment don't have the opportunity to bury it. Hopefully, Paul Volcker will come to that conclusion when he has access to Talabani's data.


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