Saturday, April 14, 2007

Paul Wolfowitz must go

A couple of weeks ago, in the April 9 issue of New Yorker magazine, I read a long and mostly favorable article about Paul Wolfowitz, The Next Crusade. There were only a couple of paragraphs about his companion, Shaha Ali Riza.

However, these comments by the author of the article, John Cassidy, provided a clue about what has now become a political bombshell:
“ The incident that prompted the most comment internally involved Shaha Ali Riza. When Wolfowitz was nominated to the bank presidency, he disclosed his relationship with Riza, who was working in the bank’s Middle East and North Africa (MENA) department. Under the bank’s regulations, spouses or partners are prohibited from supervising one another or from working in the same cone of authority. As president, Wolfowitz oversees a cone of authority encompassing nearly all the bank’s employees, including those in MENA. The board of directors’ ethics committee took the view that Riza should be transferred to a position outside his supervision. Wolfowitz asked that she be allowed to maintain her job at MENA and to work with him as necessary, offering to recuse himself from any decisions concerning her pay and work conditions. 'It really gave a bad impression, especially for somebody who was making a big issue of good governance,' a former senior official at the bank said. 'The president is supposed to set an example to everybody, and yet here he wanted to have his girlfriend working with him, which is flatly prohibited under bank rules.'

Ultimately, Riza was seconded to the State Department. To compensate her for the disruption of her career at the bank, she was promoted to the managerial level, and she has received two pay raises, bringing her salary to a hundred and ninety-three thousand dollars—more than Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice makes. 'The staff are very upset,' Alison Cave, the chairman of the World Bank Staff Group Association, said, explaining that the raises amounted to special treatment that violated established bank guidelines."

As former Deputy Secretary of Defense and one of the architects of the war in Iraq, Paul Wolfowitz was a highly visible public figure before he was appointed president of the World Bank. According to the New Yorker article, "Early in Wolfowitz’s presidency, he announced that his priorities would include...fighting corruption among governments that received bank aid.”

So what did Wolfowitz do? “….a few months after he arrived at the bank he appointed Suzanne Rich Folsom as head of the Department of Institutional Integrity, the bank’s internal-investigations unit, which follows up allegations of fraud in bank projects.

Folsom is a Washington ethics lawyer with strong ties to the Republican Party. (Her husband, George Folsom, a foreign-policy specialist, worked for the Administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.) Before Wolfowitz’s arrival, the bank had enlisted the help of an executive-search firm, which, out of a large pool of candidates, identified nine finalists. After reviewing these names, Wolfowitz rejected them all and selected Folsom.... According to one of Wolfowitz’s aides, he regarded Folsom as eminently qualfied for the job, and he was also impressed by her performance at the investigations department. Others at the bank saw things differently. ‘Paul turned around to the world and said that she was appointed following an international search,’ one senior official who has now left the bank said to me. ‘That was technically true. There was an international search. But she was not part of that search. He shredded the list and then brought in a loyalist from the Republican Party.’”

In the past few days, the news has been focusing on what appears to be Wolfowitz’s inappropriate actions involving securing his companion a job with an annual salary that tops Condi Rice’s.

But that isn’t all. On April 13, the New York Times article, Wolfowitz Fight has Subplot began, "When President Bush appointed Paul D. Wolfowitz as the president of the World Bank two years ago, the White House had to put down an insurrection among European nations that viewed the administration’s best-known neoconservative as a symbol of American unilateralism and arrogance.... it is clear that the chorus of calls in recent days for Mr. Wolfowitz’s ouster is only partly about his involvement in setting up a comfortable job, with a big pay raise, for a bank officer who is Mr. Wolfowitz’s companion."

Enter Steve Clemons* of The Washington Note, whose online article published on April 13, Express Your Views on Why Wolfowitz Must Resign includes his letter to a World Bank official about why Wolfowitz should resign, 42 e-mail addresses for World Bank officials, and special instructions for writing to Robert Kimmit, Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, who, according to Clemons, “holds many of the cards on whether Wolfowitz goes or stays.”

Leave it to my friend, Janie Sheppard, to take Clemons’ advice to heart. You may recall that I wrote about Janie on March 25, Steven Griles admits to lying - exclusive report from former employee. Here’s her letter:
Dear Mr. Kimmitt:

As an important player in any decision of whether Mr. Wolfowitz stays or goes, I urge you to advocate for his resignation, or, failing that, his firing.

Having read numerous accounts of his wrongdoing, which is especially offensive in light of his campaign against corruption, I am sure that he cannot be an effective leader for the World Bank.

This morning I was struck by the lack of foresight on the part of Mr. Wolfowitz and his companion. They should have known that her move to a higher-paying position in order to avoid the nepotism rules of the World Bank was wrong. Instead, they seem to feel that the higher paying job was due her for "any inconvenience". And apparently, in their view, that made it acceptable to ignore the rules of common sense.

Anyone who couldn't have the sense to avoid the appearance of corruption while leading a campaign against it should not be in an important governmental position.

Is it too much to ask of the government that its appointees display common sense?

I think not and I believe you would agree.

Janie Sheppard
Ukiah, CA

You might want to accept Clemons’ invitation to contact World Bank officials and express your views on why Wolfowitz should resign. There appear to be plenty of reasons.

*Clemons ends his April 13 post with the description of an incident he described as "fascinating". On April 14, he posted two more articles regarding Wolfowitz which may provide you with more material for writing that letter.

(Wolfowitz photo-


Anonymous said...

It was incredibly arroganct for Bush to appoint warmonger Wolfowitz to head the World Bank. And Wolfowitz echoed that arrogance by arranging the State Dep't sinecure for the girlfriend. Too bad Patrick Fitzgerald couldn't crank up another grand jury...

Ann said...

Deeper and deeper go the faults and problems of the Bush Administration. Ethics? What ethics? I was against Wolfowitz's appointment from the beginning because his political stance as a war-monger is inappropriate to a financial power position globally. Sigh.

Go Janie!