An Iraqi corn broker walks through his supply while preparing it to be shipped to retail markets January 5, 2004 in a village north of Baghdad. Iraqi farmers and brokers were eager to see the high quality American seed since the seed acquired from the Oil for Food program was said to be substandard. (AP/Julie Jacobson)
A report by Senate investigators this week suggests that Saddam Hussein stole more than 21 billion dollars from the Oil for Food program -- more than twice as much as previously thought. It appears that Saddam had a lot of help from the United Nations and from some U.S. allies. We call on the expertise of two journalists who reported on this scandal, when hardly anyone else was: Claudia Rosett, a columnist for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL in Europe and for OpinionJournal.com, and Rob Pollock, a senior editorial page writer for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL.
"The Oil for Food program was designed in the middle 1990s to provide food and medicine for Iraqis who were suffering under sanctions. Now we know that didn't happen. Tell us how Saddam Hussein was able to fleece this program."
"He undercharged for the oil he sold, which meant that the person buying the oil got a very fat profit, which he then kept part of and kicked back part to Saddam. Saddam overpaid for relief goods, say, baby food, which meant that the person selling him the baby food got a fat profit, kept some, kicked back part to Saddam. And he smuggled out billions worth of oil."
"He was buying influence abroad. He did about $23 billion worth of business with the Russians. He did about $7 billion worth of business with the French. We can imagine that maybe the French and the Russians aren't too worried about losing that business. But if nothing else, they certainly don't want that web of corruption exposed."