Chief United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix rejected yesterday a resignation offer tendered by one of his Iraq-bound inspectors after reports appeared that the Virginia man lacked a specialized degree and has played a leadership role in sadomasochistic sex clubs.
Asked if the inspector's S&M background might offend his Muslim hosts, a U.N. spokeswoman said all inspectors have been briefed on the local culture and religion.
Harvey John "Jack" McGeorge, 53, of Woodbridge is a munitions analyst for the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC). His resume lists training in the Marine Corps and the Secret Service but not a college degree in one of the specialized areas that the United Nations says its prefers for its inspectors, such as biochemistry or chemical engineering.
"We believe that Mr. McGeorge is a highly qualified and competent technical expert," said Ewen Buchanan, Blix's spokesman. "We are not aware of any grounds for his resignation, and Dr. Blix has not taken up his offer" to resign.
McGeorge founded, and has been an officer in, several sadomasochistic sex groups, through which he has taught courses on "sex slaves" and various techniques involving knives, ropes and choking devices. He had said that he would offer his resignation if The Washington Post wrote about his S&M background. On Thursday, the Post reported that McGeorge is a co-founder of Black Rose, a Washington-area S&M club, and a former officer in the Leather Leadership Conference Inc.
McGeorge, president and founder of Public Safety Group Inc., a Woodbridge consulting firm, was selected by the United Nations over inspectors who had worked on the earlier U.N. Special Commission inspection team sent to Iraq after the end of the Persian Gulf War. Many of the earlier inspectors were deemed to be too aggressive in their disarmament searches.
Hua Jiang, deputy spokeswoman for U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, was asked yesterday by reporters if McGeorge's role as a leader in sadomasochistic sex clubs could be offensive to Muslims during the diplomatically sensitive mission in Iraq. She said inspectors should be "aware of the local culture and religion," adding: "Dr. Blix has been saying that all the inspectors who are sent to the area have gone through at least one month's training, and that's part of it."
Jiang defended the lack of background checks for applicants to UNMOVIC. Other U.N. spokesmen had said that such checks were not possible for the international organization.
"These inspectors are either recommended by member states or they themselves just put in their resume," Jiang said. "And as far as their expertise is concerned, I think that there is a check on that, but other than that, [on] their personal lives, since there are so many inspectors coming from so many different countries, I don't think UNMOVIC is available to do that."
U.N. officials said McGeorge was "recommended" by the State Department, but officials there said his resume was just one of many forwarded to the United Nations for consideration.
Former weapons inspector Robert Gallucci, now dean of Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, declined to comment on McGeorge's personal interests. But Gallucci said he is troubled by the fact that no one is scrutinizing the records of the applicants.
Former inspectors have expressed skepticism of the current team's effectiveness because the United Nations bypassed some of the most skilled inspectors available from the earlier rounds of inspections, which ended in 1998.
McGeorge was a Secret Service munitions specialist and a Marine ordnance-disposal technician in the 1970s. He has an associate's degree in security management from Northern Virginia Community College. His company offers courses in biological and chemical weapons.
Former weapons inspector Richard Spertzel said there is little substitute for experience, and that the U.N. training program doesn't fill the gap. "The training that UNMOVIC provides doesn't train them to be a good inspector," he said. "It gives them basic knowledge, and that's where it ends."
Staff writer Colum Lynch contributed to this report.