No Wrongdoing to “Escape” From

At the risk of beating a dead horse, in case you missed it yesterday, The New York Times has reported on an independent panel’s finding that the UN Development Program was not involved in any financial mismanagement in North Korea. Bluntly,

American allegations that North Korea duped the United Nations Development Program by diverting aid money for its own needs are not supported by any evidence, according to a lengthy external review released Monday.

There was no sign that millions of dollars were mismanaged, diverted elsewhere or unaccounted for, the report said, countering accusations made in early 2007 by the United States Mission to the United Nations. Although the report acknowledged that some information the panel had sought was unavailable, the review’s conclusion was that the money had been “used for the purposes of the projects.”

This conclusion is by now well-established, and has been corroborated by reports from multiple other major news outlets, so it is somewhat disturbing that Reuters chose a misleading phrase for its headline, describing the Nemeth report’s findings as an “escape” from “major censure.”

Let’s be clear here. UNDP did not “escape” accusations of wrongdoing, because there was no wrongdoing to escape from. The allegations have been found to be without any substance whatsoever by not one, not two, but three investigative panels — a point of which The Wall Street Journal apparently needs reminding — and emanate nearly entirely from a thoroughly-debunked source, one whom the latest report characterizes as an “evasive witness,” about whose “credibility and trustworthiness” the panel expressed “serious reservations.” This was the shaky foundation on which the accusations of UNDP wrongdoing were built, and, after a series of thorough investigations, this foundation seems to have quite thoroughly collapsed.