Saturday, April 26, 2008

UN Confirms and Defends Deletion of Ban Statements from Transcripts, What Else Gets Erased?

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, April 21 -- At the UN statements, like web sites, can be made to disappear. While the range of web sites blocked inside the UN, which Inner City Pres first reported on earlier this month, includes watchdog sites like, on Monday UN Spokesperson Michele Montas defended the omission from the UN's online transcript of Ban Ki-moon's April 16 Q&A session with the press of an answer he gave about Iran.

According to, yes, the UN's transcript, at Monday's noon briefing Inner City Press asked
I noticed last week when there was a stakeout by the Secretary-General, he made a statement about Iran, and when I read the transcript, it wasn't in the transcript. There was a whole paragraph where he said that he welcomed cooperation by Iranian authorities with the IAEA.
Spokesperson Montas: It was simply that the question was about Iraq and he answered on Iran so on the transcript, we put his answer on Iraq.

Inner City Press: Okay, I guess I am saying, the thing on Iran stands. That is his position on Iran.

Spokesperson Montas: Yes.

Inner City Press: I guess I am wondering, has there been a thought on whether the transcript should be changed in that way?

Spokesperson Montas: No, because he was not asked that question. The transcript is supposed to reflect really the questions asked and the answers that occur at a stakeout or a briefing.

But the answer that actually occurred was excised from the transcript. On April 15, Ban was asked a question about the situation in Iraq and an upcoming meeting in Kuwait. Video here, at Minute 13:25. Ban responded about Iraq's neighbor, Iran, that "Iranian authorities should fully comply with the most relevant Security Council resolutions," adding that he is "satisfied with the progress" of Iranian authorities in complying with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Video here, from Minute 13:35. Then his spokesperson Michele Montas whispered that the question had concerned not Iran but Iraq.

Ban gave a brief answer, which is the only part of the answer that the UN's transcript includes:

Question: What are your comments on the situation in Iraq, and what would be your message to Iraq's neighbors who are meeting next week in Kuwait?

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: This is going to be a very important meeting. Unfortunately for me, I will not be able to participate in person, because of a scheduling problem. As I said, I am going to visit African countries exactly on that day, therefore I am going to dispatch Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Mr. B. Lynn Pascoe. But I am going to convene, and myself preside over an International Compact with Iraq [meeting] in late May, May 29th , in Stockholm.

Ban's responses about Iran, clearly visible on the video, are simply excised from the UN's written transcript. If "the transcript is supposed to reflect really the questions asked and the answers that occur at a stakeout," why erase the answer that actually occurred? Anyone can make a mistake. But since this got deleted, what else is being concealed?

And see,