Dr. Richard Benkin Bio
United States stop funding the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization
Republican Senator Tom Coburn: US Taxpayers Forced to Fund our EnemiesBy Dr. Richard Benkin Thursday, June 12, 2008
On June 4, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) demanded that the United States stop funding the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) “until its director steps down.” In a letter to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, Coburn criticized FAO Director General Jacques Diouf for inviting Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad to address FAO’s World Food Summit in Rome this week.
In doing so, Coburn said, Diouf “has made a mockery of this event….Providing a U.S. taxpayer-funded forum for these men to present themselves as humanitarians in unconscionable.” Moreover, their high-profile presence does nothing to advance the organization or the summit’s mandated goals. Diouf’s actions have no rationale other than a political one to inflame anti-American sentiments and embarrass conservative Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi who refused to invite them to the state dinner he hosted for the event. Mugabe and Ahmedinejad are both persona non grata in Italy, and were able to enter Italy only under UN auspices.
Neither despot disappointed. Mugabe blamed the West for world hunger; Ahmedinejad blamed the Jews. Mugabe said the West caused his people’s suffering by imposing “illegal economic sanctions” and cutting off “all developmental assistance.” But of course, the problem is Mugabe himself. Aid was stopped only after it became clear that Mugabe was lining his pockets with it and keeping it from the people. Moreover, his own brutal policies, including his communist land seizures, are what turned the former “breadbasket of Africa” into a beggar nation. Ahmedinejad said that people “are trying to save themselves from the oppression of the Zionists.” He did not make it clear how that caused a food crisis, but he had a solution for one nonetheless. The Holocaust denial supreme said the UN should form “an independent and powerful [international] body, obeyed by all countries” that would control food prices “and all its related issues from production to consumption.”
But, of course, the world is used to their incoherent rants and socialist “solutions.” Coburn’s question is why US taxpayers are forced to pick up the tab for them. In addition to feeding “a bunch of world bureaucrats at luxury hotels,” Coburn’s office notes, taxpayers are footing the bill for over 50 US government employees from the Departments of State and Agriculture (USDA), and USAID to listen to this drivel. Coburn sent letters to Agriculture and USAID similar to the one he sent to Rice.
Coburn, a physician, sits on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, and is the ranking Republican on its Federal Financial Management, Government Information and International Security subcommittee. In May, he exposed how the USDA spent over $90 million sending its employees to “conferences” in places like Las Vegas, Hawaii, the Virgin Islands, and Australia’s Surfers Paradise Resort in 2006. He also was one of only 15 senators who last month voted against the $300 billion Farm bill, which he called “not a farm bill [but] a nutrition/social programs bill, with a few farm programs thrown in.” Before casting his “nay” vote, Coburn tried to make the bill more palatable by offering several amendments. His Senate colleagues defeated them all including one that would prohibit payments to farmers who had been dead for more than two years. Being from Chicago, I suppose I can understand how the Senators found it unreasonable not to pay dead people!
Senator Coburn has been in the forefront of the fight against high taxes and government waste ever since he came to Washington in 1995 to represent Oklahoma’s second district. He was elected to the Senate in 2004. Recently, his focus has shifted to wasteful spending that also undermines the United States in the war against Islamist extremism. Certainly, paying for an international podium for Mugabe who in Coburn’s words, “has brutally repressed his own people,” and Ahmedinejad who “is calling for the destruction of our ally Israel”—is one example. Coburn and his staff are also looking at Alhurra TV, a US funded television station that is supposed to be broadcasting unbiased information to the Arab world about the war on Islamist extremism and the United States.
A member of the Subcommittee staff, contacted me for information on an October 2007 Alhurra program with Muslim Zionist Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury. It was pitched to us as an honest discussion about Saudi Arabia and charges that it exports radical Islam abroad. Shoaib was asked to join the panel to talk about how the Saudis are behind the growth and development of radical Islam in Bangladesh. But the show turned out to be a Saudi puff piece. Shoaib was the only member of the panel who did not ape the transparently disingenuous Saudi line but presented evidence of its involvement in the radicalization of his country. The program’s host, however, would have none of it. He allowed the Saudi government representative to drone on and on at will without any challenges. On the other hand, he kept Shoaib’s time limited; and whenever he began confronting the Saudi with evidence of his perfidy, the host would quickly go to a break and make sure that Shoaib and his topic received no further airing when they returned.
Coburn and the Subcommittee also asked for and received evidence in two other incidents Shoaib and I uncovered. One involved a Voice of America (VOA) employee who edits a newspaper and hosts a news television program in Bangladesh in the nation’s vernacular of Bangla. One day in 2006, I was on the phone with Shoaib who had the TV show on in the background. Suddenly, he told me to wait while he took down several virulent anti-American remarks by the VOA employee. The US and UK had just foiled an attempted terrorist plot to blow up trans-Atlantic flights using liquid explosives. Chowdhury called the arrests a “game of the British government” and accused the US and the UK of deliberately fabricating the terror plot to deflect world attention from what he called “Hezbollah victories.” Chowdhury said rather that the claims about the plot are part of a “conspiracy against Islam” by the United States.
The other involves Firoz Ahmed, employed by the US Embassy in Bangladesh. He has been on the US State Department’s payroll for over a decade and was even honored by State as an outstanding employee. But, it turns out Firoz Ahmed is also a member of the radical Jihadist party, Jamaat i-Islami. He even carries the rank of “Roqan.” The matter came to light in the aftermath of a 2007 attack on Shoaib by Bangladeshi Islamists. I informed US Congressman Mark Kirk (R-IL), who has been the leader of Shoaib’s defenders in Washington, and he contacted our embassy. But the embassy denied that the incident had anything to do with Shoaib’s pro-US and pro-Israel writings but resulted from a financial dispute. Kirk’s office contacted me and told me to investigate because “something’s fishy” about the response they received. Our investigation exposed Ahmed’s radical activities as well as identifying Islamists behind the attack on Shoaib. It should be mentioned that the embassy never denied Ahmed’s Islamist credentials, it and still employs him—at taxpayer expense.
The fact that US agencies around the world rely on local informants and employees who are conversant with the nation’s local languages and how to get information should not be cause for alarm. But the fact that our agencies do not check their backgrounds or monitor their activities should be. As I told the agencies and Coburn’s aide, if we uncovered these problems in Bangladesh—the world’s third largest Muslim-majority country—we “can bet the house that the same thing is happening in Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan, and everywhere else.” As a result, our embassies have been basing their policies on unvetted and made-to-order information; and our agencies are providing a platform for anti-American propaganda. And taxpayers are funding it.
Senator Coburn fighting to expose this travesty and overcome the vested interests in Washington that would prefer not to confront it. If he is forced to stand alone and does not succeed, there is virtually no chance to end these self-destructive actions. Recently, Coburn received some publicity from Senator Barack Obama. Trying to explain his association with unrepentant terrorist William Ayers, Obama compared it to his being “friends” with Coburn because the Oklahoman suggested that the death penalty might be appropriate those who perform abortion. If Obama really believes there is a moral equivalency between Coburn who is fighting to protect the US and its citizens, and Ayers who tried to blow them up, then the outcome of this year’s election is more critical than we even imagined.
Dr. Richard L. Benkin secured the release of Bangladeshi journalist Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury in 2005. The two continue working together to fight Islamist radicals and their allies in South Asia and elsewhere. For more information on how to help, please contact Dr. Benkin at email@example.com. Their web site is [url=http://www.InterfaithStrength.com]http://www.InterfaithStrength.com[/url].
Dr. Benkin can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org