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U.N. Chief's Record Comes Under Fire

'I Had a Clear Conscience'

Annan recalled that period as a "tough patch" but said, "I had a clear conscience, and I knew we would come through that."

But Coleman remains unsatisfied. "We're going to continue to push the issue until we have a better sense ultimately of how it happened and who benefited and where the money went," he said in an interview. He also reiterated his call for Annan to step down.

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan is resisting calls for his resignation. (Spencer Platt -- Getty Images)

Albright warned that an Annan resignation would hurt the United States. "It would set reform back years," she said. "It would be very evident that the United States had forced him. If people think we have problems now, they would be infinitely larger than that."

Many U.N. officials and diplomats believe the Republicans' attacks are politically motivated, rooted in Annan's opposition to the Iraq war. And Annan said the United Nations was "outgunned and outmanned" by critics who have used the oil-for-food scandal to tar the organization. In addition, he said, "the bulk of the money that Saddam made came out of smuggling outside the oil-for-food [program], and it was on the American and British watch."

In January, Annan brought in Malloch Brown to clean house, and Malloch Brown has forced out several of Annan's most loyal political advisers. He has also reversed decisions by Annan to pay Sevan's legal fees and to clear Ruud Lubbers, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, of wrongdoing after a U.N. investigation accused him of sexual harassment.

He has also highlighted the United Nations' support for the Bush administration's focus on weapons proliferation and terrorism as the prime threats of the day.

But now, U.N. officials and delegates from developing countries feel that Annan is trying to accommodate the United States to save himself.

"It's bad enough to be a lame-duck secretary general and be one under fire," said Columbia's Luck. "But in addition to that, [to] have your legs pulled out from under you by having some of your closest confidants removed, I think it just underlines how much he is a lame duck."

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