Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Pulitzer No Prize

I don't know how the winners of Pulitzer Prizes are decided. But the committee had a huge blind spot this year. Claudia Rossett of the Wall Street Journal doggedly followed every lead on the Iraq Oil for Food program run by the United Nations. She was the first to put in print the clues that something was wrong. (As far as I know.) And something huge was wrong. Billions were misused. The intention was that Iraq would be allowed to sell oil, but only to feed its people. Not for weapons, not for Saddam's limosines and palaces. A special management and auditing program was set up to make sure the money was used correctly; using contracting companies and run by the UN. But the UN bureaucrats allowed Saddam Hussein to divert billions away from food to serve all his power needs - favors for the people who ran Iraq into the ground for him; was it 30 palaces? And some of those "palaces" were compounds of hundreds of acres with a dozen or more buildings. And, yes, weapons from Russia and Germany. (France, too?) The UN is shaken to the foundation. The UN staff - a large portion - have lost their respect for Kofi Annan. The Volcker report says Annan was remiss - at least by not recognizing the conflict of interest of his son being hired and paid by one of the mangement companies. Kofi says the report exonerated him, but he knows it didn't.This is the biggest thing to shake the UN in years. So Claudia Rossett definitely deserved the Pulitzer for International Reporting. I am sure the winners did good work. But her work was more important and she did a first-class job on it. Her latest article is a good example of her work. She reports that Kofi Annan has proudly announced a "reform" proposal for the UN that uses lofty prose to say: "rearrange the chairs and spend lots more money." (This link is to her latest article, so it is subject to change.)
In Deep Trouble -Kofi Annan's idea of "reform" is more of the same--and lots more money.
Update - Jim Miller of Sound Politics on his own blog calls them the "Pulitzer Reprimands," because the only way to get one is to be anti-American. Jim Miller Michelle Malkin has more. And John Hindraker of Powerline Blog shows how horrible the winning cartoons were.

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