In a way, this story about corruption in the U.N.’s Iraqi oil for food program is Abu Ghraib for conservatives–it points to corruption in an institution for which we harbor deep misgivings. 

The MSM (mainstream media) doesn’t like this story. They’d rather publish pictures of hooded Iraqi prisoners and blame Donald Rumsfeld. No fun when it’s Kofi Annan under attack.

For the longest kind of time, Claudia Rosett has had the story to herself, with an occasional assist from William Safire, who called for the resignation of Mr. Annan as the U.N.’s secretary general. Seems Mr. Annan’s son has been on the payroll of one of the corporations implicated in the billion dollar plus scam.

None of this generated big play in the MSM until the last few days. No matter how they want to close their eyes, the media can’t ignore it when a U.S. senator investigates corruption at the U.N. and then goes public as Senator Norm Coleman is doing. Coleman recently shared some of his findings in the Wall Street Journal:  

“We continue to amass evidence that [Saddam] used the overt support of prominent members of the U.N., such as France and Russia, along with numerous foreign officials, companies and possibly even senior U.N. officials, to exploit the program to his advantage. We have obtained evidence that indicates that Saddam doled out lucrative oil allotments to foreign officials, sympathetic journalists and even one senior U.N. official, in order to undermine international support for sanctions. In addition, we are gathering evidence that Saddam gave hundreds of thousands — maybe even millions — of Oil-for-Food dollars to terrorists and terrorist organizations. All of this occurred under the supposedly vigilant eye of the U.N.”

If you tuned into NBC to hear Tom Brokaw sign off last night, you heard Andrea Mitchell’s report on the scandal. Missing the part of the story that really matters, Mitchell focused on Saddam as the culprit. (She did hold her nose and mention the unavoidable matter of Kojo Annan.) But Saddam’s thieving ways are not the news, and Andrea knows it. Most people are very aware that Saddam wasn’t a very nice chap. The news is that the U.N. is a cesspool of corruption.