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At UN, Starr Spins Media, After ICP Exclusive, Covering UN Recipient?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 26, with video -- After Inner City Press this morning exclusively published, and at noon asked, about cocaine found inside the UN, six hours later the UN produced for a dozen reporters Safety and Security chief Gregory Starr, with photographs of two "UN" bags he said the "controlled substance" arrived in.

  Starr confirmed that  the incident occurred on January 16. Inner City Press' law enforcement sources say the NY Police Department and Drug Enforcement Agency arrived at the UN that day at 12:30 in the afternoon.

  Inner City Press asked Starr why the UN had not disclosed the find of 14 kilos of cocaine ten days ago, until its exclusive story and question. Starr insisted it is a US law enforcement matter, and later implied the UN would never have made it public absent Inner City Press' exclusive expose. Video here, and below.

  The hole in Starr's and the UN's spin is to say that 14 kilos of cocaine showing up inside the UN, in bags marked "UN," is "not a UN matter." Several security sources asked Inner City Press why a pick-up of the bags had not been awaited.

  "If a bag marked 'UN' is automatically brought by DHL inside the UN, sure the person intending to go pick up the 'lost' package could be in the UN," one source told Inner City Press. "But now the way they've done it, we'll never know. Someone may be breathing easy."

  While Starr said the packages originated in Central or South America, he never refused to rule out Mexico, which is in neither. But US law enforcement tells the Press that the Mexican Federal Police are now involved. "We want to know who gave the package to DHL, they'd have to a so-called 'Reliable Shipper,'" as one source put it.

(c) MRLee
UN's Starr shows photo of "UN" bags: how not a UN story?

  Local law enforcement was critical of errors in derivative reports, which misquoted the estimate street value as $2 million instead of $440,000, and alleged "cartel" involvement without any proof.

Starr showed the convened media photos of the bags, while his colleague David Bongi, about whom Inner City Press has previously reported, held up actual Diplomatic Mail bags, which Starr then implied should not be photographed or published.

  But the immediate turn over -- Starr said to NYPD, but other sources say the DEA took possession -- had the effect of making it impossible to know if a person with access to the UN mail room was going to try to pick up the bags. "So someone's being protected," as a source put it.

Inner City Press asked Starr if, for example, all entries into the UN connected to general contractor Skanska and the UN's Capital Master Plan rehabilitation are screened. Starr claimed they are, but even other UN Security sources say different.

  Absent this morning's story, Inner City Press asked Starr, would you ever have made this public? The answer was not yes. Watch this site.

Inner City Press also asked Starr if there is any update on his commitment to ensure an investigation of the murder of UN Security officer Louis Maxwell by Afghan National forces in Kabul.  "No," Starr said.  For shame.

(c) MRLee
UN's Bongi and Diplomatic Mail bags: Erdogan not shown

Click here for the UN's January 26 transcript of its noon briefing, at which Inner City Press asked about the drugs after already publishing its first story.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

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

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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