Greets UN's "Implausible" Tale of Kabul
Killing, Even with Video Not Yet Seen by US' Rice and Other Dips
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, April 27 -- The UN's "implausible"
the death of its staffer Louis Maxwell in Kabul last October drew
skeptical reviews from diplomats at a South African reception Monday
night. One Asian Ambassador, who had watched the UN
webcast of Under
Secretary General Malcorra summarizing a report she would not
release, said sarcastically, "So they are saying he was shot
while on the roof, then just happened to fall dead while surrounded
by Afghan police?"
conference, Ms. Malcorra said both that Maxwell as killed by a bullet
fired at long range and that it was definitely him in the cell phone
video falling dead while next to Afghan National forces who neither
flinch nor look up.
phone video, here, esp. at Minute 1:01 to 1:04
asked the Ambassador's question to a senior UN official who said he
was involved in the report-related last minute writing. No, the
official stammered, we are not saying that he died, and then died
again. There are a lot of open questions. We are counting on the
Afghan's help at this point.
unlikely. It has already been made clear that the Afghan government
did not assist with the UN's Board of Inquiry. This is now explained
by the UN as a product of the Karzai government's anger at not being
able to be a formal co-sponsor of the investigation rather than as
It can be and
has been said: Louis Maxwell's was an inconvenient death.
UN's Malcorra and Nesirky summarizing a report they
Ambassador Tanin was at the South African reception, and Inner City
Press asked him about the report. I have passed it on to Kabul, he
said. He met Monday morning with the UN's Alain Le Roy, Susana
Malcorra and top security official Gregory Starr. Normally
unflappable and impeccably dressed, Ambassador Tanin did not seem
worried in the least on Monday evening.
Susan Rice, however, said that the Afghans are very worried. Inner
City Press asked her about the Maxwell report, as well as about Sudan
and Congo. On the latter, she requested off the record treatment. But
on the Maxwell report, after saying she had been otherwise occupied
on Monday -- presumably with the NPT and/or Iran -- she asked, "I take
can't see in the video who is standing next to him?"
seems the U.S.
Ambassador has not seen the video. It is here.
As more people do,
the story the
UN spun on Monday will become less and less tenable, the Asian
Ambassador predicted. Watch this site.
* * *
Kabul Death, UN Floats "Implausible" Theory, Withholds Report, Banbury
and Hughes, Cover Up Alleged
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, April 26 -- While denying it
engaged in a cover up, the UN
on Monday argued that its staff member Louis Maxwell, shown in a cell
phone video being shot while standing next to Afghan National
was killed by bullet from long range, which the UN calls "friendly
Tony Banbury last week said on the record that Louis Maxwell as
"murdered," to brief on Monday the UN produced Susana
Malcorra, the head of the Department of Field Support. Inner City
Press asked Ms. Malcorra why Mr. Banbury was not taking the
questions, and whether the UN was retreating from his statement about
"murder." Video here,
from Minute 17:07.
Banbury's word "murder" was "probably not the best
word to have been used." All the more reason, then, to have
Banbury come and answer questions about what many view as the UN's
implausible explanation of Maxwell's death. Inner City Press last
week sent Banbury -- and Ms. Malcorra -- a number of questions by
e-mail, none of which have been answered.
confirmed that the individual killed on the cell phone video was
"absolutely" Louis Maxwell, she said the UN is conclude he
was killed from long range. But he is surrounded by Afghan National
forces, who do no flinch or even look up at Maxwell falls dead beside
them. As numerous participants at Monday's press conference concluded,
this makes no sense. The most diplomatic among them called it
phone video, here, esp. at Minute 1:01 to 1:04
or rather summarized, on Monday was the UN's own Board of Inquiry's
report. The text of the report was not provided. Nor when Inner City
Press asked for the identifies of three of the Board's four members
would Ms. Malcorra provide the names.
the UN's recent report on the death of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan, in
which all three panel members were identified, and copies of the
report provided to the press prior to the April 15 briefing. Some
wonder, is a UN staff member less important? Or since it is a UN
staff member, does the UN feel comfortable adopting less transparent
explained the anonymity of the Board of Inquiry's members as an
attempt to "preserve their identities for the sake of future
involvement in other matters, this or equivalent situations."
But judges and police work on one case after another, with their
names being known.
repeatedly called the Board "independent," it was headed by
Andrew Hughes, who stopped being a paid UN staff member, at earliest,
in September 2009. Hughes was paid as a consultant during the
"investigation," and was on record in UN Police magazine
while working for the UN has trying to build bridges and trust with
the Afghan National forces.
some he seems a
strange person to then purportedly independently investigate the
Afghan National forces. Unlike Herald Munoz who headed the UN's
Bhutto panel and answered questions, Mr. Hughes has not been made
members include two current UN system employees, and one "former
staff" member. Can such a Board be called independent?
UN's Malcorra: report, Banbury and Hughes not shown
inconsistencies were not resolved by the Board of Inquiry. It was
said, back in October, that the Afghan National forces did not arrive
for 90 minutes, which is difficult to square with the account
provided by Ms. Malcorra on Monday, essentially portraying Mr.
Maxwell as being killed in the fog of war.
shows no fire
being exchanged, nor Mr. Maxwell's UN gun raised. Ms. Malcorra said
the gun was "recovered" -- but from whom?
asked when the UN because aware of and got the video footage. Ms.
Malcorra said they became aware "sometime in January" and
got a copy in late January. From the German Mission in Kabul? No.
From whom? Ms. Malcorra wouldn't say.
City Press concluded with two overarching questions. The first involved
to it by UN staff in Kabul that the UN, including Ban Ki-moon in
particular, refused to raise this issue to the Afghan government, or
to make it public since January.
Malcorra's defense seemed to be
"due process" -- that it would have been unfair to the
Afghan government to say anything. But what about Louis Maxwell and
his colleagues? What about the truth?
was, given both that at the time of the attack and deaths, there was
tension because Hamid Karzai's government on the UN about electoral
fraud, and that now Karzai is accusing the UN and other "outside
forces" for being responsible for the fraud, and that the UN is
reticent to criticize governments which threaten to throw it out or
bristle like Sudan, how can this not be seen as a cover up.
replied that the Board was independent. But it was composed of two
current and two former UN system staff. There is a need for an
outside review, and fast.
A well placed
UN Security official who has watched the issue develop, including
passing information to Inner City Press from people who knew Louis
Maxwell, told Inner City Press on Monday, "Keep pushing this, a cover
up in wrong, especially in this case." Watch this site.