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Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

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At UN, Champion of Lockheed Still on Road, From Afghanistan with U.S. Air Force

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, January 2 -- After the propriety of the UN's $250 million no-bid contract with Lockheed Martin for Darfur infrastructure was questioned, including in the budgetary (Fifth) committee of the General Assembly, UN Spokesperson Michele Montas said that a press briefing would be provided, after the Fifth Committee voted. On December 21, the vote was held, and the committee and wider General Assembly expressed "concern... about the single source contract." Twelve days later, Inner City Press asked  Ms. Montas for any comment on the Assembly's expression of concern, and for specifics on which the long-promised briefing will be held. "I will try to get you that," Ms. Montas said, adding that "not everyone is back." Video here, from Minute 11:43.

            A UN official who pushed for Lockheed to get the no-bid contract, in April 2007 months before the Security Council voted to create the hybrid Darfur mission, is Jane Holl Lute, officer-in-charge of the Department of Field Support. She has still not come to give a briefing. Internet research finds that early in December she was in Afghanistan -- the report is by a military news website, written and photographed by a U.S. Air Force capital who also runs a blog praising Afghans who "hate the Taliban so much [as to] have been working the past eight months with little to no pay."

Jane Holl Lute in Afghanistan, Dec. 8, 2007, U.S. Air Force photo

   He also writes:

"I arrived in Qalat around 6 p.m. I grabbed some dinner at the dining facility--which is run by a company called KBR -- and the food was absolutely awesome. For those of you familiar with my Africa deployment, it's the same company that runs the DFAC there. Every meal since has been excellent."

            Kellogg Brown & Root, at that time owned by Halliburton: mm, mm, good.  Jane Holl Lute championed U.S.-based military contractor Lockheed Martin to get the UN's $250 million Darfur contact, without bidding. Her husband is U.S. president Bush's main advisor on Afghanistan and Iraq, Lt.-Gen. Douglas Lute. She flies to Afghanistan and the photos are taken by the U.S. Air Force, not by UN Photo. There are few answers to these round-about questions -- we would prefer the more direct questions, but since the questions began in October 2007, Ms. Lute has not answered. That should change sometime soon.

Footnote: Speaking of Darfur and websites, the UN has created a site for the hybrid peacekeeping force, UNAMID. As of Wednesday night, it had logged 1430 visitors, and the "Contact Us" page was listed as "Contacts Us -- Coming Soon." Sort of like the over 20,000 troops, one Net-wag snarked...

* * *

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

  Because a number of Inner City Press' UN sources go out of their way to express commitment to serving the poor, and while it should be unnecessary, Inner City Press is compelled to conclude this installment in a necessarily-ongoing series by saluting the stated goals of the UN agencies and many of their staff. Keep those cards, letters and emails coming, and phone calls too, we apologize for any phone tag, but please continue trying, and keep the information flowing.

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Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

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UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540