From today’s WH press briefing:
QUESTION: Scott, two questions. First, Paul Volcker’s report on the oil-for-food scandal at the U.N. is out. And while it shows that Secretary General Annan was not directly implicated in this scandal, it suggests strongly that he was at the very least negligent in his oversight of it and obtuse about the role his own son, Kojo, played in the fraud. Should he stay or should he go?
MCCLELLAN: Well, first of all, let me back up. We’ve always felt it was important for there to a full investigation of the allegations of corruption and fraud in the oil-for-food program. We appreciate the work that the Volcker Commission is doing. We look forward to seeing the final results. This is another report that they are putting forward today.
There needs to be a full accounting. We have always said that it needs to be an open, transparent and full investigation. And so we appreciate the work that’s been going on by the Volcker investigation. We have just received a copy of the report today. It’s just been made available today. We’re going to carefully study that report and look at what it says.
It’s also important that we continue to move forward on reforms at the United Nations to make sure that it is addressing the challenges that we face in the most effective way and that things like this are prevented from happening in the future.QUESTION: One of the things in this report is that Kofi Annan’s own chief of staff shredded documents relating to the oil-for-food scandal the day after they were requested. With that kind of event, with that kind of activity in the secretary general’s office, can he continue to lead this organization?
MCCLELLAN: This is a very serious matter, and we have stated that repeatedly. Congress has been looking into it as well. We continue to support the United Nations. We continue to support Secretary General Annan in his work at the United Nations. We will carefully study the report that Mr. Volcker has put forward today. We’ll also look forward to seeing the final results of his investigation. And we’ll also look forward to seeing whatever else Congress uncovers as well.
QUESTION: What sort of confidence do you have in the job that Annan is doing?
MCCLELLAN: Like I said, we continue to support the work of the secretary general. And we’ll continue to work with him and the United Nations on the many challenges that we face. In terms of this report, again, it’s just been available today. And we’re going to have to take a look at it, and we’ll study it closely.