House Dems Come to Annan's Defense

Some House Democrats are coming to the defense of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan (search) after several Republican lawmakers called for his resignation because of allegations of corruption in the organization's oil-for-food program.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (search), D-Ohio, sent a letter Wednesday to Secretary of State Colin Powell, saying criticism of Annan is "disgraceful and premature."

"There has been no hint of impropriety on the part of the secretary-general, who on numerous occasions has proven his honesty and integrity," the letter said.

It was signed by 19 Democrats and independent Rep. Bernie Sanders (search) of Vermont.

On Monday, Democratic Reps. John Conyers (search) of Michigan and Donald Payne (search) of New Jersey sent a letter to House colleagues in support of Annan.

"To decide that the secretary-general must resign is an absolutely premature conclusion to draw when there is no evidence or even allegations that the secretary-general profited from the oil-for-food program," they said.

The program allowed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to sell oil and use the proceeds to buy food, medical supplies and other humanitarian items. Congressional committees are investigating allegations that Saddam manipulated the program to generate illicit income and win influence with foreign officials.