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UN struggles to explain away presence of weapons inspector with S&M fetish

London independent 11/29/02: Kim Sengupta

Original Link: http://news.independent.co.uk/world/politics/story.jsp?story=356753

The United Nations inspection mission in Iraq has been fully prepared for controversy over chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. Instead, the first crisis it faces concerns sado-masochism, pansexuality and leather fetishes. Senior officials were trying to explain yesterday how such a crucial mission came to include an American former Secret Service officer who has no specialised degree in any of the relevant sciences, but considerable expertise in unusual sexual practices.

Harvey John "Jack" McGeorge was nominated for the mission by the United States government. The revelation of his personal details has also led to the disclosure that no background checks have been made on any of the monitors.

Mr McGeorge, who once served in the US Marines, is waiting in New York to join the Unmovic (UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission) in Baghdad.

He runs a business offering seminars on "weaponisation of chemical and biological agents" at $595 (�380) a session, and advertises his services as a "certified United Nations inspector". An internet search has also revealed that Mr McGeorge offers training seminars of a different kind involving "various acts conducted with knives and ropes". This relates to his role as co-founder of Black Rose, a "pansexual S&M group" based in Washington, and also as a founder of Leather Leadership Conference IN, which "produces training sessions for current and potential leaders of the sadomasochistic/ leather/fetish community". Mr McGeorge said a State Department official invited him to apply for a job with the UN team, and neither the Americans nor the United Nations asked about his S&M background. He was interviewed by Hans Blix, the chief inspector, and trained with Unmovic in February 2001.

He told The Washington Post: "I have been very upfront with people in the past about what I do, and it has never prevented me from getting a job or doing a service. I am who I am. I am not ashamed of who I am � not one bit." He added that he was now considering resigning his UN post.

Iraqi officials, who have always claimed that American members of the team may not be what they seem, were still digesting the news.

A Foreign Ministry official said: "It is very disturbing that the Americans have put forward someone like this. Apart from his strange sexual life, he does not have the academic qualification for these complex issues. And he is also a former member of their Secret Service. How many other of these types are they getting into the UN mission?"

A UN official said in Baghdad: "It is very difficult. We are hoping the man will now resign, and we can draw a veil over this." Ewen Buchanan, an Unmovic spokesman, said: "As the UN, with people applying from many countries, we do not have the capacity to carry out background checks. I believe Mr McGeorge is technically very competent. He knows his subject, which is weapons."

A State Department official confirmed that Mr McGeorge was recommended to Unmovic, and that no background checks were made.

The Bush administration has been accused of undermining the Iraq mission, and US officials have claimed that Mr Blix had chosen an inexperienced team, leaving out inspectors with previous experience of working in Iraq who were deemed to be too aggressive in pursuing their task. There have also been complaints from Washington that not enough American and British personnel were chosen for the teams.