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On Syria, UK Joins France in Pre-Spinning Report, Is Ban Selective Leaker?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 13 -- Now the UK has joined France in pre-spinning the UN report on chemical weapons in Syria. UK "officials" appear in the Times of London saying the report will name two forms of rockets the rebels are not thought to have.

  The question or problem is, how did they get the information? UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, through his spokespeople, insists he doesn't yet have the report. And report author Ake Sellstrom is not supposed to be leaking.

  On September 11, French foreign minister Laurent Fabius said the UN report will be released Monday and will implicate Bashar al Assad.

  At the UN Thursday morning, Inner City Press asked French Ambassador Gerard Araud how Fabius knew. We were told last night, Araud responded. Inner City Press followed up, By whom?

  By the Secretary General, Araud said.

  But Ban's associate spokesperson Farhan Haq refused to confirm this when Inner City Press asked at noon:

Inner City Press: not just Mr. Araud, but Laurent Fabius said openly that the report should come out Monday and that it will implicate Mr. [Bashar al]-Assad. And then Mr. Araud said that France, I donít know if it was him, was told this by the Secretary-General last night. So I am asking, what I e-mailed you, he is a Permanent Representative for France; what does that mean? Are you saying itís not true?

Associate Spokesperson Haq: I donít know what precisely he has said. What I can say is that the Secretary-General has not received the report thus far. We will let you know once the report has been received. But I cannot confirm what day that will be.

Inner City Press: Did he speak to France last night, as Mr. Araud said?

Associate Spokesperson: He has been in touch with a wide number of Member StatesÖ

Inner City Press: Did he speak to Russia?

Associate Spokesperson: He has been in touch with a wide number of Member States over the previous days about the crisis in Syria, a wide number of Member States, but in any case, the report has not been received.

Later in the briefing, Inner City Press asked more formally, in the spirit of the Free UN Coalition for Access @FUNCA_info, for disclosure:

Inner City Press: Because France has said that it heard from the Secretary-General on the topic of the report, I would like to make a request that you at least disclose whether Ban Ki-moon talked to all five members of the permanent five. So I just, thatís a request.

Associate Spokesperson: He has been speaking sporadically in recent days with all of the five members, of the five permanent members.

Inner City Press: But itís pretty important. Given what Mr. Fabius said, itís pretty important, Iím just making that request.

  Now with UK officials claiming even more detailed knowledge of the report, it becomes even more important. The UK and France, ostensibly such fans of the UN (if only because their Security Council veto rights magnify their power) are in fact shredding its credibility or its claimed impartiality.

  The UN Secretariat has done this itself, too -- given that this UN issued a report exonerating itself for bringing cholera to Haiti, and clings to that even after the scientists who delivered the false report now disclaim it, why should the UN's report on chemical weapons be treated as a sacred cow?

  A Nordic Ambassador on Thursday night argued to Inner City Press that Sellstrom is a good man. Fine. But if it's not him leaking, is it Ban? Araud said the Secretary General told France. Watch this site.


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