The U.N. agency charged with monitoring seismic activity around the globe sent all of its 310 employees on vacation the week of the massive earthquake and tsunami in South Asia, preventing any possibility of warning to the 227,000 victims.
Vienna International Centre, headquarters of the U.N. agency
While the man in charge of the Vienna office of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization claims his staff could probably not have prevented the catastrophe, sources within the agency tell Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin they know differently.
Even though there were hours between the time the computers at the agency recorded the massive Dec. 26 quake and the first tsunami, nobody saw the data in the U.N. agency that spends $105 million a year – about 19 percent provided by U.S. taxpayers. They were all permitted to go on holiday at once.
The man responsible for that staffing decision is Secretariat Wolfgang Hoffman, 69, a German, who will be leaving the post in August after what one insider at the agency call “nine years of abuse of power.” During his tenure, marked by “mismanagement of monumental proportions,” he has made about $3 million in salaries and benefits.
Asked whether he had any regrets about the extraordinary loss of life, Hoffman’s reply is revealing.
“We have been doing what we could do under the circumstance, and those who have connections to us and wanted to have the data got the data,” he said. “We have to get organized better, and with the help of the states, because we are a service organization. We are not deciding this; we are of service to states and we want to be of service to states, so they have to discuss with us – and we will make proposal for this – how we could help better.”
Hoffman, whose seven-year term ended officially March 16, 2004, obtained an extension through July of this year. Some insiders in Vienna believe many of the 227,000 people might be alive today had he left last year. But Hoffman disagrees.
He explained: “I don’t think we would have been able – even if we had warned them that there was a quake – I mean, took the telephone and give them an extra warning – I don’t think we would have been able to avoid the catastrophe, because people on the shore had not been informed.”
When Hoffman leaves the agency this summer, he will leave it on the verge of collapse, according to whistleblowers in Vienna.
The troubles began in 2002 when the Islamic Republic of Iran shut off a key monitoring station. The information received from that part of the world is considered vital to accurate monitoring efforts for both nuclear testing and earthquakes.
That same year, the U.N. agency was the target of a scathing report on its use of human resources. Yet, more than two years later, the most damning report was the Asian death toll of 227,000 because all 310 employees went on vacation the same week.
The 2002 report found Hoffman had created a climate of “fear and mistrust” in his agency. He responded to the report by firing the chief of the personnel section who had not been accused of any wrongdoing, other than carrying out Hoffman’s orders.
According to one staffer, anti-Semitism, racism and sexism are rampant in the agency.
Others say most senior staffers spend most of their office time smoking and drinking coffee on the fourth and seventh floor bars of the C Building of the Vienna International Centre. Many of the senior professional staff only go to the office to check their email and surf the Internet, according to G2 Bulletin sources.
These senior employees earn in excess of $100,000 annually and the income is tax-free.
The Bush administration cut its funding of the agency for fiscal 2006 from $19 million to $14.35 million, making it the second largest contributor after Japan.
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