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Following are snips from State Department spokesman James Rubin's briefings for Monday and Tuesday (accessible via the web-calendar interface at <http://secretary.state.gov/www/briefings/index.html>). Monday's performance seems especially desperate: a) Mr. Rubin castigates Hans Von Sponeck for exceeding his authority in questioning sanctions: "Mr. Von Sponeck has exceeded his mandate in purporting to comment on areas that are ... beyond the range of his competence or his authority with respect to the wisdom of sanctions." b) Mr. Rubin undercuts the consequences of sanctions by noting that mortality estimates vary, a disreputable strategy favored by Holocaust deniers: "With respect to infant mortality, there has been numerous reports on this. I would be happy to get you the various conflicting data on it." James Rubin, forever the gigolo to Albright's troll ... === <http://secretary.state.gov/www/briefings/0002/000214db.html> QUESTION: Can we move next door to Iraq? I notice that your - your friend, Mr. Von Sponeck has resigned, beaten you to the punch on the resignation game, and I am wondering if you have anything to say about his impending departure? MR. RUBIN: We are very pleased about his impending departure. I'm sure he has a similar view. So we can both talk about that as private citizens and I am sure that it will be better for the US Government and the people of Iraq and the people of the world after that happens. QUESTION: What was the US role in his departure? MR. RUBIN: Well, look, this is a personnel decision for the United Nations to discuss. It has long been our view that Mr. Von Sponeck has exceeded his mandate in purporting to comment on areas that are without - beyond the range of his competence or his authority with respect to the wisdom of sanctions. Mr. Von Sponeck was a humanitarian affairs coordinator. He was not the arbiter of national or international security for the world. The arbiter, to the extent there is an arbiter for the world on what the proper decisions are on national and international security grounds, is the Security Council. The Security Council has imposed and reaffirmed dozens of times the imposition of sanctions on Iraq. So Mr. Von Sponeck's comments on sanctions are irrelevant beyond his competence and were one of the sources of our concern about his behavior there. In addition, he had a tendency to simply accept Iraqi claims for various events without having an independent research into them. For example, with respect to the effect of air attacks on Iraqi air defense sites, he tended to simply report under the UN banner Iraq's claims, even though Iraq has had a long history of abusing information for propaganda purposes and has a very poor record of accuracy. QUESTION: Can you move a little further west? MR. RUBIN: On Von Sponeck? QUESTION: Yeah, one more. Within this range of competence, however, were infant deaths. MR. RUBIN: Right. QUESTION: And he says - basically he thinks - he says on UN surveys that somewhere between 5 and 6,000 premature infant deaths occur in Iraq each month. MR. RUBIN: Right. With respect to infant mortality, there has been numerous reports on this. I would be happy to get you the various conflicting data on it. The bottom line is that Saddam Hussein has billions of dollars to spend on his military machine and his palaces and luxuries for the elite, and so every time an Iraqi child suffers or dies, it is because Saddam Hussein has refused to spend his money to help them. There is no sanction on spending on humanitarian supplies. It's a great misnomer. One day I would hope one of you would include in one of your stories the fact that Iraq can spend all the money it wants and purchase all the humanitarian supplies it wants and help deal with these true problems that exist there. === <The following duplicates an earlier post (from a different source) by Nathan Geffen, but is included for completeness.> <http://secretary.state.gov/www/briefings/0002/000215db.html> QUESTION: Now, the head of the WFP, World Food Program in Baghdad, has quit. It seems like it's going to be, "Will the last UN official to leave Iraq turn out the lights?" I'm just wondering if you have anything to say about her resignation and the reasons for it, which are similar to the reasons given by Mr. Von Sponeck. MR. RUBIN: Well, I haven't seen exactly what she said. I'm aware of another resignation and I can assure you that these are not the last UN officials in Iraq. There are plenty of people working every day to try to help the people of Iraq. Because the leaders have made these decisions doesn't mean that the work won't continue. There are many other people there. I could get you the numbers, but there are many other people there. With respect to the reasons given, there is a suggestion that somehow this is personal. This is not personal. It is our view that the roles of the humanitarian coordinator and the humanitarian officials there are not the role of self-appointed spokesmen for the Security Council and the world as to the wisdom of sanctions. This is not a personal issue; this is a professional issue involved in people's professional duties. If people believe that they can't in good conscience continue their work, I think all of us respect that. There are obviously different views on the wisdom of sanctions in the world. But when the Security Council has made a decision to impose sanctions and all the members of the Council have endorsed time and time again those sanctions, it's not up to a humanitarian official -- who is there to implement a program that the United States and the others started intended to generate revenue because Saddam Hussein won't use his own revenue to pay for humanitarian goods and services for the people of Iraq. So when these well-intentioned individuals are concerned about the fate of the Iraqi people, it is our view that they should direct their concern and their blame-casting at the Iraqi regime, which refuses day after day, time after time, to spend its hard currency helping its own people, so the United Nations and the United States have to come up with a different way to create revenue for the food and medicine and other supplies that are being made available. If it were not for the US and the UN efforts in this regard, billions of dollars of food and medicine would not have gone to the people of Iraq. So there is no question that we share concern about the people of Iraq. The only people that don't seem to share any concern about the people of Iraq are the members of the regime who would prefer to spend money on elaborate palaces, elaborate cars, elaborate houses, amusement parks, man-made lakes and many other luxury goods, rather than spend any of this hard currency helping their own people. QUESTION: An aside, and a kind of corollary to that is, you don't see the two resignations as disrupting or affecting the programs? MR. RUBIN: The program has existed before. You know, this is not the first time individuals have decided that they would prefer not to hold these posts. The program will continue because it is a program that we are behind, the United Nations is behind. To the extent the Iraqis allow the oil to be sold for this purpose, it will be spent for the purposes specified by the resolution and we don't see this needing to interfere in any significant way with the operations of the program. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email firstname.lastname@example.org Full archive and list instructions are available from the CASI website: http://welcome.to/casi