A campaign to discredit the UN weapons inspections mission to Iraq flared into
action yesterday with the publication of bizarre personal details about one of
the experts waiting to go to Baghdad.
About 100 weapons experts have been selected so far to join the mission's chief,
Hans Blix, in Iraq. The team is expected to grow to 300 experts over the coming
However, a report in the Washington Post yesterday suggested that the relatively
small world of weapons experts was fraught with rivalries.
A number of former inspectors - who apparently were not selected by Mr Blix
- say the new teams lack experience, and accuse him of deliberately overlooking
old hands for fear of antagonizing Iraq.
The newspaper went on to detail the sexual practices of one of the current
Harvey "Jack" McGeorge, 53, from Virginia, is a co-founder of an S & M
group in the Washington DC area, and a former chairman of the board for the National
Coalition for Sexual Freedom.
The former marine was recommended for the mission by the US state department,
and is now in New York.
He heads his own security consultancy, selling counter-bioterrorism products
and conducting seminars on chemical and biological weapons, but he does not hold
a scientific degree.
A trawl of the internet by the Post found that Mr McGeorge was also a member
of the Leather Leadership Conference Inc, which "produces training sessions for
current and potential leaders of the sadomasochism/leather/fetish community".
In an interview with the newspaper, Mr McGeorge said he would resign rather
than damage the UN mission.
"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 service," he said. "I am who I
am. I am not ashamed of who I am - not one bit. But I cannot allow my actions,
as they may be perceived by others, to damage an organization which has done nothing
to deserve that damage."
A spokesman for the UN said that Mr McGeorge's private life had nothing to
do with his qualifications as an inspector.
However, he provides a convenient target for critics of Mr Blix, particularly
aggrieved former inspectors.
They say he has overlooked potentially qualified experts by requiring applicants
to quit their government jobs before applying. There are also fears that some
members of the teams are from private industry, and will use the mission to garner
media attention and sell their products.
© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2002