Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Cotecna and Halliburton

An independent panel investigating the U.N. Oil for Food Program corruption has exonerated Kofi Annan of corruption in regards to awarding Cotecna program contracts. The report only criticized Annan for not investigating his son, Kojo’s, ties to Cotecna in 1999, when suspicion arose that the Swiss company was allowing Hussein skim funds off of the U.N. program for personal benefit.

Meanwhile, the panel found Kojo Annan guilty in conspiring with Cotecna in the Oil for Food scandal and being uncooperative with independent investigators. Mr. Annan had also been hiding further connection with the firm after his resignation in 1998; the panel found that he had been collecting benefits from the company until February 2004.

As a result, Republican ideologues have criticized the U.N. and Kofi Annan of blatant corruption and conflict of interest by awarding contracts to corporations that exploit dire situations. Senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota (R) has called on Mr. Annan to resign, citing Annan’s “lack of leadership” and “lack of responsibility and accountability.”

Touché Mr. Coleman. There seems to be a conflict of interest story right here in the United States Republican leadership. There seems a striking similarity between Bush/Cheney and Kofi/Kojo, between Halliburton and Cotecna.

Cheney was the CEO of Halliburton until running for vice president in 2000. After becoming vice president, he received nearly 400,000 dollars in deferred payment from the company.
Halliburton was founded to overbill more that 6 million dollars on a no-bid contract with the U.S. Government to supply and service U.S. troops in Iraq.

Both Cotecna and Halliburton are guilty of corruption in regards to situations in Iraq, whether stealing from humanitarian aid before the war, or from the U.S. military after the war. Both Cheney and Kojo have invested personal interest to award firms with valuable government contracts. Both Cheney and Kojo have been unclear about their compensation after leaving their respective companies.

Those in the Bush Administration and its constituents should examine their own charges of corruption, “lack of responsibility and accountability” before throwing stones. Should Kofi Annan resign over the Oil for Food Scandal? “Hell no.” Should the administration be so quick to judge him? “Hell no.”

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