Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Skepticism Greets UN's "Implausible" Tale of Kabul Killing, Even with Video Not Yet Seen by US' Rice and Other Dips

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 27 -- The UN's "implausible" explanation of the death of its staffer Louis Maxwell in Kabul last October drew skeptical reviews from diplomats at a South African reception Monday night. One Asian Ambassador, who had watched the UN webcast of Under Secretary General Malcorra summarizing a report she would not release, said sarcastically, "So they are saying he was shot while on the roof, then just happened to fall dead while surrounded by Afghan police?"

At Monday's press conference, Ms. Malcorra said both that Maxwell as killed by a bullet fired at long range and that it was definitely him in the cell phone video falling dead while next to Afghan National forces who neither flinch nor look up.

See cell phone video, here, esp. at Minute 1:01 to 1:04

Inner City Press asked the Ambassador's question to a senior UN official who said he was involved in the report-related last minute writing. No, the official stammered, we are not saying that he died, and then died again. There are a lot of open questions. We are counting on the Afghan's help at this point.

This help seems unlikely. It has already been made clear that the Afghan government did not assist with the UN's Board of Inquiry. This is now explained by the UN as a product of the Karzai government's anger at not being able to be a formal co-sponsor of the investigation rather than as obstruction.

It can be and has been said: Louis Maxwell's was an inconvenient death.

UN's Malcorra and Nesirky summarizing a report they won't release

Afghanistan's Ambassador Tanin was at the South African reception, and Inner City Press asked him about the report. I have passed it on to Kabul, he said. He met Monday morning with the UN's Alain Le Roy, Susana Malcorra and top security official Gregory Starr. Normally unflappable and impeccably dressed, Ambassador Tanin did not seem worried in the least on Monday evening.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, however, said that the Afghans are very worried. Inner City Press asked her about the Maxwell report, as well as about Sudan and Congo. On the latter, she requested off the record treatment. But on the Maxwell report, after saying she had been otherwise occupied on Monday -- presumably with the NPT and/or Iran -- she asked, "I take it you can't see in the video who is standing next to him?"

It seems the U.S. Ambassador has not seen the video. It ishere. As more people do, the story the UN spun on Monday will become less and less tenable, the Asian Ambassador predicted. Watch this site.

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