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Kofi Annan and missing black boxes

by Judi McLeod, Canada Free Press

What’s with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and missing black boxes?

First came the cockpit voice recorder discovered by reporters collecting cobwebs in a filing cabinet at UN Manhattan headquarters. The black box was discovered in March 2004 at the UNs’ Air Safety Unit, where it had apparently languished for 10 long years after its arrival by diplomatic pouch from the UN Mission in Rwanda.

When reporters demanded to know why the cockpit recorder was still in a filing cabinet a decade later, Annan spokesman Fred Eckhard jokingly pretended to look under his desk to prove there were not other black boxes in hiding.

The discovery of the box by enterprising reporters was a major embarrassment for the world’s largest bureaucracy. Even Annan described it as a "first-class foul-up".

Within a matter of weeks, a private firm and the U.S. National Transportation board determined that it wasn’t likely linked to the 1994 Rwandan crash that killed President Juvenal Habyarimana and his Burundi counterpart.

The only other black boxes not found after a crash–ever–were supposedly those in 9/11.

The UN confirmed last June that the reporter discovered black box was not linked to the Rwandan plane crash.

When the black box went missing, Annan not yet Secretary-General, was head honcho in charge of "peacekeeping".

With Canadian General Romeo Dallaire’s pleas for more UN troops ignored, the genocide in Rwanda erupted as the news of Habyarimana’s death spread. By the time it was over, more than 800,000 people had been killed, many of them youngsters hacked to death by machete.

Annan went on to win the Noble Peace Prize and the Prime Minister Paul Martin-led Liberal Government has since appointed Dallaire to the Canadian Senate.

When the black box arrived at UN headquarters, it was wearing a sticker identifying it as UNAMIR–which spells out the UN Assistance Mission in Rwanda and the date: 6/4/94.

Even if the black box had been identified as the one coming from the 1994 plane crash, it now seems that the information provided would never have changed the course of events. No one disputes that Habyarimana’s fateful flight was intentionally shot down, and there is little the flight data recorder could reveal about who was responsible.

That’s the episode of the black box found locked away in a UN file cabinet.

Then there are the boxes of evidence turned over to Congress by UN investigators, including "proof" that Annan lied to the independent Paul Volcker Committee probing the Oil-for-Food scandal.

According to Fox News reporter Jonathan hunt, "One source close to the case told me that in those boxes is the ammunition needed to prove that Kofi Annan lied to investigators," Hunt told Fox News radio host Tony Snow. "So this is a very dramatic development indeed."

In an editorial headlined: Report Spells the End of Kofi Annan, the Montreal Gazette noted that Annan’s then executive assistant destroyed three years worth of files on Oil-for-Food the day after the Security Council passed a resolution authorizing Volcker’s inquiry.

"Just connect the dots," the newspaper said. "What a damning picture it is. Its reputation is already in tatters, the UN stands today weaker than it ever was. Only major governance reforms can save the world body now, and the first order of reform business needs to be finding a credible replacement for Annan."

When it comes to hidden boxes, Annan’s got a history.

Canada Free Press founding editor Judi McLeod is an award-winning journalist with 30 years experience in the media. A former Toronto Sun and Kingston Whig Standard columnist, she has also appeared on Newsmax.com, the Drudge Report, Foxnews.com, and World Net Daily. Judi can be reached at:

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