This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes", April 29, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: The U.N. Oil-for-Food (search) scandal is getting worse. Now we learn that Iraqi oil contracts worth billions of dollars have just simply disappeared. We know Saddam ripped off the program, but did he have partners high up at the United Nations?
Joining us now, Danielle Pletka, who's the vice president for foreign and defense policy at the American Enterprise Institute.
Thank you, Danielle, for being with us. Appreciate it.
DANIELLE PLETKA, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: My pleasure.
HANNITY: Never has there been a financial rip-off of the magnitude of the U.N. oil-for-food scandal, in the words of William Safire. Is that accurate?
PLETKA: I don't know. It's certainly a big scam. Saddam apparently earned $10 billion through the oil-for-food program. That's not illegal stuff he imported but through the U.N. Oil-for-food program.
PLETKA: I don't know if it's the biggest but it's certainly big.
HANNITY: At least we know $5 billion in kickbacks went from corrupt contractors, and we know that they mainly went to the French and the Russians, right? Into the pockets of Saddam and his thugs. Is that accurate?
PLETKA: Payoffs went to companies and individuals associated with foreign governments. The French foreign minister apparently got a payoff. All sorts of people high up in the Russian hierarchy got payoffs. And payoffs may have been made to people inside the United Nations, as well.
HANNITY: But the amount of money -- I want to ask one political question associated with this, in your opinion.
Because we keep hearing from John Kerry that he could have gotten more United Nations' support but now that we see the level of corruption, especially with France and Germany and Russia.
With the amount of money we're talking about, isn't it more realistic that nobody could have gotten their support to topple Saddam because of the actual number of dollars involved? Would that be a fair analysis on my part?
PLETKA: I guess what John Kerry is saying is that he would have been able to outbid Saddam Hussein in order to bring over the Russians and the French and the Chinese. And frankly I don't think he would have been able to.
HANNITY: But they were bribed.
PLETKA: They were bribed. There was no question. Would they have done it anyway? Sure. But the money was there for them.
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: It's Alan. Good to have you on the show.
Let me ask you about this panel headed by Paul Volcker to investigate this. Is that all for show or do you think it's going to accomplish anything?
PLETKA: It's possible that it's for show, and its possible that, as it is so show, it may accomplish something. The real question is what access they will have to documents. Thus far, the signs haven't been very propitious.
COLMES: Kofi Annan (search) says there's no way the United Nations could have stopped this, that this was the job of the nations involved. They couldn't have stopped Saddam from pocketing $5.7 billion through smuggling. He says they had mandate to stop the smuggling. That's the job of the maritime task force.
Does that make any sense?
PLETKA: It really doesn't make any sense. I think that's the least credible thing Secretary-General Annan has said. The idea that the United Nations doesn't have the power to enforce its own resolutions and has no interest in doing that seems somewhat ridiculous.
COLMES: Does this mean -- is there a relationship between this scandal and whether or not the U.N. can be trusted to get involved with the appointment of a new government in Iraq, or does one thing have nothing to do with the other?
PLETKA: I think that the general credibility of the U.N. is at stake here. If we can't trust the United Nations and its officials to implement something as important as the oil-for-food program, we have to ask ourselves whether they can be trusted to implement other things that are important.
If the United Nations (search) is meant to be an important tool of multilateralism, which everybody seems to love these days, then we really need to know we can trust the figures there, that they are transparent, that they're not on the take, that they're not self interested.
HANNITY: All right, Danielle. Good to see you. Thank you so much for being with us. Appreciate it.
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