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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Doubt Cast on Iraq Inspectors

WASHINGTON -- The United Nations launched perhaps its most important weapons inspections ever Wednesday with a team that includes a 53-year-old Virginia man with no specialized scientific degree and a leadership role in sadomasochistic sex clubs.

The United Nations acknowledged Wednesday that it did not conduct a background check on Harvey John "Jack" McGeorge of Woodbridge, Virginia, who was in New York waiting to be sent to Iraq as a munitions analyst.

McGeorge was picked for the diplomatically sensitive mission over some of the most experienced disarmament sleuths in the world. A UN spokesman said McGeorge was part of a group recommended by the State Department, which in turn said it was merely forwarding names for consideration.

The disclosures about McGeorge's qualifications come as concerns are being raised among some former UN weapons inspectors that the current team lacks experience. The former inspectors, who worked for the United Nations Special Commission created after the Persian Gulf War, say Hans Blix, the executive chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, is bypassing some experienced inspectors because they were opposed by Iraq as too aggressive in the earlier inspections.

UN officials defended their team of inspectors, saying they are highly qualified and among the best in the field. But they acknowledged that they conducted no background checks.

"As the United Nations, with people applying from many countries, we do not have the capability to do that," said Ewen Buchanan, a spokesman for UNMOVIC. "How would you check?"

McGeorge is a former Marine and Secret Service specialist who offers seminars on "weaponization of chemical and biological agents" for $595 per session. Since 1983, he has been president of his own firm, Public Safety Group Inc., which sells bioterror products to governments. One online ad says he is a "certified United Nations weapons inspector."

An Internet search of open web sites found that McGeorge is the co-founder and past president of Black Rose, a Washington-area pansexual S&M group, and the former chairman of the board of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom. He is also a founding officer of the Leather Leadership Conference Inc., which "produces training sessions for current and potential leaders of the sadomasochism/leather/fetish community," according to its web site.

McGeorge said last week that officials at the State Department and the UN did not ask about his S&M background. But he said he would resign if The Post printed a story about it.

"I have been very up front with people in the past about what I do, and it has never prevented me from getting a job or doing service," McGeorge said. "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."

Interviewed by telephone, McGeorge defended his training and experience. "I was a military ordnance explosive disposal specialist," McGeorge said. "I was very well trained on chemical and biological agents."

McGeorge's professional background reveals he served for a few years each as a Marine munitions technician and an ordnance countermeasures specialist with the Secret Service, both stints occurring more than 20 years ago.

Former weapons inspectors criticized the selection of inspectors, saying experienced candidates were passed over.

"We just knew too much," said Richard Spertzel, former head of the biological weapons inspection team for the UN Special Commission on Iraq. "They couldn't pull the wool over our eyes."

The two renowned experts retained in the current group, Igor Mitrokhin and Nikita Smidovich, will not be conducting field inspections.

Mitrokhin, a respected Russian chemical weapons expert, has been named the chief of the agency's health and safety division. Smidovich, a Russian missile expert whose encyclopedic knowledge of Iraq's missile program has long made him unpopular in Iraq, has been appointed head of inspector training.

Smidovich said the less-experienced inspectors can learn everything they need to know from a massive archive that includes a recording of virtually every meeting with the Iraqis. "We have it all on tape," he said.