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UN Counter-Terrorism Chief Calls Aid Exception Complex, Dodges on Spying

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 22 -- Former French judge Jean-Paul Laborde, chosen by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to head the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, took four questions on Friday.

  The first included a softball question about the US National Security Agency spying; Laborde did not squarely answer it, just as Tony Blair did not the day before, by Laborde's side. (Click here for Blair video by Inner City Press.)

  The second was about suicide bomber in Iraqi being from Saudi Arabia. Laborde answered that as a (former) judge, he would need evidence. He then addressed the questioner, obviously "you are from the country." But the correspondent is from Lebanon.

Inner City Press, called on third, thanked Laborde on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access then asked what he has done about the study released by the Norwegian Refugee Council urging that

"Counter-terrorism laws and measures adopted by States and inter-governmental organizations should include exceptions for humanitarian action which is undertaken at a level intended to meet the humanitarian needs of the person concerned" and "should exclude ancillary transactions and other arrangements necessary for humanitarian access, recognizing that humanitarian actors operate in areas under control of groups designated as terrorist."

  Laborde called it a good question, but as so often happens after that phrase is used, did not really answer it. He said it's a complex issue, he mentioned one country: Somalia. But he did not, for example, address Barclay's move to cut off remittances. We'll have more on this.

Footnote: Why was there no time for follow-up, or for more journalists to ask questions? In part it is due to the UN automatically giving the first question to the UN Censorship Alliance (a/k/a UN Correspondents Association), even when as happens more and more the questioner / president never uses the answer for any news. What's the point of these questions, then, other than to cling on to a position in order to censor others?


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