Tony Blair Throws Support Behind Kofi Annan

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," February 10, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

Watch "The Big Story With John Gibson" weeknights at 5 p.m. ET


TONY BLAIR, PRIME MINISTER, BRITAIN: It's been a tough time in the international community and it's been a very tough time for the United Nations Secretary General. I happen to think in that very tough time that he has handled himself with very great distinction, with a lot of wisdom and in difficult circumstances has been a tremendous unifier.


JOHN GIBSON, HOST: Kofi Annan getting some surprising support, but Tony Blair's (search) kind words are not being echoed on this side of the pond. Icy relations with the U.S. and a series of scandals at the U.N. have Annan fighting off calls for his resignation. I'm joined now by Executive Vice President of the U.N. Foundation, Kathy Bushkin.

Kathy, today's big question: so, why is Tony Blair throwing his support behind Kofi Annan (search) now?

KATHY BUSHKIN, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, U.N. FOUNDATION: Well, for the same reason that more than 100 other countries that are part of the U.N. have done the same thing: Kofi Annan has been a very strong Secretary General.

He's led the U.N. brilliantly for the last eight years; he's going into the last two years of his term with a reform agenda. He's critical to the future of this institution and taking it fully into the 21st century. He's been a tremendous Secretary General for U.S. interests.

GIBSON: Now wait a minute. Kathy, you have a list.

BUSHKIN: I have a list.

GIBSON: I think I can rattle off a list, too.


GIBSON: Under his watch, the biggest thievery in the history of the world; attempted bribery of the U.N. Security Council by a guy that the Security Council was trying to control: Saddam Hussein. The guy's son is involved in the thievery, as well as his assistant. And he seems to have actually lost control of the U.N., definitely lost control of the United States, actively politicking against the U.S. in what it wanted to do in Iraq.

BUSHKIN: Well, I'd like to take you back to what Condi Rice said in Paris this week about the United Nations. That it's a very important body for collective decision-making and equally important for collective action. I think the U.S. does believe in a strong U.N. and thinks that it's in the U.S.'s interest.

As far as this oil-for-food scandal, the Secretary General did the right thing last year by asking Paul Volcker to come in and lead a totally independent, thorough and public review.

GIBSON: Totally Independent?

BUSHKIN: Totally Independent.

GIBSON: FOX has uncovered some news that Volcker might be a Kofi Annan-guy and was put in there to basically give Kofi a whitewash.

BUSHKIN: I think you sell Volcker short. He's a very independent guy; he has a very big reputation to protect; he's run a very good investigation and his report last week was unstinting in his criticism of behaviors at the U.N. and the need for some reforms and at the Security Council.

GIBSON: Well, why isn't Kofi being held responsible for the stuff that Volcker talked about?

BUSHKIN: Well, I think he's taken responsibility. He's immediately announced that he's going to substitute reforms in oversight, in contracting, in all the various areas that Paul Volcker outlined.

He's going to take steps to reform the process so, in the future, if there's ever such a huge program like this one — and this one truly was unique because it was intended to protect a dictator like Saddam from stealing from his own people and from starving his own people — but if there's ever a program like that, that reforms will be in place and there will be resources for adequate oversight. And there wasn't adequate oversight.

GIBSON: Well, right. But Kathy, I mean, that is the barn door closing well after the horse. In fact, the herd of horses is gone. There has never been thievery on this scale. There's never been fraud on this scale in the world. There's never been an attempt and nobody ever wants to talk about it anymore — maybe you'll address it — clearly was attempted bribery of veto-wielding U.N. Security Council permanent members.

Why isn't that something that the U.N., that you would be concerned about at the U.N.? Compromising the decision-making ability of the U.N. Security Council?

BUSHKIN: Well, I think everyone is concerned about the charges. And I think all the members of the Security Council also have to look at what happened over that period. This was a very complicated program that was reporting up to the Security Council. So obviously, the oversight in it was essential to be reformed.

I think what we're looking at here is a program that will never take place like that again. And the Security Council, the waivers, the whole way that this program was run is being fixed. Secretary General has taken immediate responsibility to ensure that for future administrations we won't have these problems again.

GIBSON: Do you expect Kofi Annan to survive and serve out his full term?

BUSHKIN: Oh I absolutely do.

GIBSON: You don't think Tony Blair was just throwing him a rose, as he disappeared under the waves?

BUSHKIN: No. Not at all, not at all.

And I refer you back to what Secretary of State Rice said, that the U.N. is too critical right now. It's playing too important a role, whether it's in the tsunami relief or the collective decision-making that needs to come around these issues of Korea.

GIBSON: Did the tsunami save Kofi Annan?

BUSHKIN: I'm sorry?

GIBSON: Did the tsunami save Kofi Annan?

BUSHKIN: No, I think he's saving himself. He is stepping up to the plate and putting reforms in place that are essential. And I think the Volcker report, frankly, will give him the authority and the impetus to get them done in his last two years.

GIBSON: All right. Kathy Bushkin, who is Executive Vice President of the U.N. Foundation.

BUSHKIN: Oh, whatever!

GIBSON: I'm just giving you a raise there, Kathy.

BUSHKIN: Yes, I thought that was a good thing.

GIBSON: Kathy, thanks very much. Appreciate you coming.

BUSHKIN: Thank you.

Content and Programming Copyright 2005 Fox News Network, L.L.C. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2005 eMediaMillWorks, Inc. (f/k/a Federal Document Clearing House, Inc.), which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon Fox News Network, L.L.C.'s and eMediaMillWorks, Inc.'s copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.