11/29/02 2:13:04 PM Pacific Standard Time
The Washington Post
Weapons Inspectors' Experience Questioned
Va. Man Is Cited As Example; Hiring Process Criticized
By James V. Grimaldi
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 28, 2002; Page 1
The United Nations launched perhaps its most important weapons inspections
ever yesterday with a team that includes a 53-year-old Virginia man with
no specialized scientific degree and a leadership role in sadomasochistic sex
The United Nations acknowledged yesterday that it did not conduct a
background check on Harvey John "Jack" McGeorge of Woodbridge, 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 U.N. 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 U.N. 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 the new inspectors have
been selected in part to avoid offending Iraq. These critics say that Hans
Blix, the executive chairman of the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and
Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), is bypassing some experienced inspectors
because they were opposed by Iraq as too aggressive in the earlier
Former inspectors also say that rules requiring applicants to quit their
government jobs meant that some of the best-qualified experts did not
apply, leaving many positions to be filled by applicants, such as McGeorge, from
the private sector. The former inspectors also say the current inspection
team lacks the size, mobility and equipment to do its job adequately, and
that the new U.N. policy of not sharing information with intelligence
agencies could further handicap the team's ability to find weapons sites.
U.N. officials defended their team of inspectors, saying that 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 a
session. Since 1983, he has been president of his own firm, Public Safety
Group Inc., which sells bioterror products to governments. One online ad
promotes his role as a "certified United Nations Weapons inspector."
McGeorge does not possess a degree in one of the specialized fields --
such as biochemistry, bacteriology or chemical engineering -- that the United
Nations says it seeks in its inspectors. U.S. and U.N. officials said a
background check apparently was not conducted on McGeorge or any of the
An Internet search of open Web sites conducted by The Washington Post
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. Several Web sites describe
McGeorge's training seminars, which involve various acts conducted with knives and
McGeorge said yesterday that a State Department official invited him to
apply for the U.N. team, and officials at State and the United Nations did
not ask about his S&M background. But he said he would tender his
resignation to Blix if The Post printed a story about it.
"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," McGeorge
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 State Department official said that the Bureau of Nonproliferation
collected résumés from potential UNMOVIC candidates and then passed along,
without recommendation, those who appeared to meet the general criteria of
the jobs. However, the official said he believes that background checks
were not conducted before the résumés were forwarded.
Half the 100 inspectors picked so far were recommended by governments, and
the other half applied directly to the United Nations. Buchanan added that
the United Nations considers McGeorge's private life irrelevant to his
rolen as a munitions analyst.
"I believe that Mr. McGeorge is technically very competent," Buchanan
said. "He knows his subject, which is weapons. As a general principle, I think
what people do in their private life, as long as it doesn't interfere with
[their] professional life -- and I'm not aware that it has interfered --
or doesn't break any rules or laws, shouldn't be a significant issue."
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 r indicates that he trained as an inspector with UNMOVIC
in February 2001 in Vienna. He said he was interviewed in person by Blix and
joined the team as a temporary staff member in December 2001.
McGeorge's professional background reveals he served for a few years each
as a Marine ordnance disposal technician and a munitions countermeasures
specialist with the Secret Service, both stints occurring more than 20
On his r, McGeorge lists an honorary doctorate from a Russian
institute in Moscow. McGeorge received an associate's degree in security management
from Northern Virginia Community College in 1983. He also lists numerous
articles on chemical and biological weapons in such publications as
Defense and Foreign Affairs and NBC Defense & Technology International.
One of his most cited achievements is preparing, under contract with the
federal government, a compendium of incidents involving biological and
chemical agents dating back to the 1940s.
Past weapons inspectors have criticized the selection of inspectors,
saying experienced candidates, including former missile inspector Timothy V.
McCarthy, were passed over. The critics say the new team needs seasoning
if it is to find minute evidence of weapons-making in a country the size of
"We just knew too much," said Richard Spertzel, former head of the
biological weapons inspection team for the U.N. Special Commission on
Iraq. "They couldn't pull the wool over our eyes."
The two renowned experts retained, 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
Smidovich said during a break at recent training session that although
there is a "new culture" at UNMOVIC, the agency still has "very tough
inspectors." He said that 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.
Blix defended the abilities of the new inspectors, saying that his chief
inspector, Demetrius Perricos, "probably has the greatest experience in
"He has 30 years of inspections behind him," he added. "He handled the
whole North Korea business in the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency]; he
was in Iraq in the beginning of the '90s; he was in South Africa and
handled the verification of the disarming of their nuclear weapons."
A U.N. Security Council diplomat said that Washington wants to increase
the number of inspections and double the size of the inspection team's roster,
which now consists of 300 people. The Bush administration has been
pressing UNMOVIC to move up the date of the next scheduled training session from
January to December. One council official said that Blix was likely to
begin "a sort of worldwide trawl" for new inspectors.
Another council diplomat acknowledged the new inspection agency lacks the
experience of its predecessor and that it will take time to reach full
speed. "A lot of the inspectors are inexperienced, and it's a matter of
not trying to push UNMOVIC to run before it can walk," said a council member.
Former inspectors also were concerned about reports that members of the
current UNMOVIC team work in the private sector and might have products to
sell. A stint on a U.N. inspections team can boost an inspector's profile,
bringing media attention and lucrative business opportunities, as some of
the former inspectors found.
One current inspector works for a company developing a sensor to detect
biological substances, such as anthrax spores.
"I don't know of any technology out there for biology that you could wave
over and say this is a bad building," said former inspector and biological
warfare expert David Franz.
Correspondent Colum Lynch and researcher Alice Crites also contributed to