Friday, April 13, 2007

Sex, Lies, and Wolfowitz

The London Financial Times broke the story Thursday that there is written proof World Bank president and Iraq war criminal Paul Wolfowitz lied at least twice about who feathered the nest of his paramour with unprecedented job promotions and salary raises to $193,000 per year, tax free. Reported FT:
Paul Wolfowitz personally directed the World Bank’s head of human resources to offer Shaha Riza, a bank official with whom he was romantically involved, a large pay rise and a promotion as part of an external secondment package, according to two sources who saw a memorandum written by the bank president.

The memorandum, which according to two sources was dated August 11 2005, specifies in detail the terms that Xavier Coll, the World Bank’s vice-president for human resources, should offer to Ms Riza, who was subsequently seconded to the US State Department.

The memorandum sets out the salary that Ms Riza is to be paid, the arrangements for her promotion, and the basis on which her subsequent annual pay increases are to be calculated. In addition to the two sources who saw the memorandum, and who recounted its contents in detail, the Financial Times has spoken to three other sources, who also attested to its existence.
In short, Wolfowitz engineered the whole pay package for his mistress. Thus cornered, he responded yesterday with the kind of nonsensical PR cant that's so much in fashion these days: he takes 'responsibility' he says, but he doesn't mention accepting real consequences. In his "public apology" he says only "I made a mistake for which I am sorry."

We've said it before: taking responsibility while evading accountability is meaningless. The moment you hear some pol say he's "sorry" but he doesn't resign, you know someone's throwing sand in your eyes.

Paul Wolfowitz is so brazen he can't even come clean when he's apologizing. It wasn't "a" mistake he made. It was a whole series of deliberate, unlawful, and self-aggrandizing decisions which he's been trying to cover-up ever since he got caught.

First, there was the favoritism. He rejected out-of-hand nine qualified applicants who had been interviewed, reviewed and approved for the job by World Bank authorities. Then he handed the position to his main squeeze, Shaha Riza, who hasn't been vetted by anyone but him -- on a casting couch, no doubt.

That's sex discrimination in any nation's book. You can bet some of those "nine qualified applicants" will soon be bringing suit against the World Bank unless the board of directors takes drastic action at once.

Second, there's the matter of discrimination in wages and benefits. Wolfowitz set things up so that he's Ms. Riza's direct supervisor. That means he retains responsibility for evaluating her performance and awarding her promotions and raises on the basis of job performance. Right? Well, yeah, for everyone except the woman he sleeps with. She plays, the World Bank pays, and Wolfie gets laid.

Finally, there is Wolfowitz' contemptible efforts to blame others. That's always a tricky business when you're near the top of the food chain and the field of candidates above you is so narrow. But Wolfowitz tried anyway.

Late last week, a "spokesman" for Wolfowitz stated that the grossly excessive pay hike for Ms. Riza was granted "by the World Bank Board of Directors." Almost immediately, "inside sources from the Bank ... stated unequivocally that this was not the case, that Board members only learned of the raise from news reports, and that the members are furious."

A few days ago Wolfie switched targets and had "a senior Bank official" claim that it was "the ethics committee of the board" who had approved his mistress' pay package. But the committee chairman fired back:
Members of the Ethics Committee of the Board, the relevant body that would have approved the raise, which has triggered allegations of nepotism at the Bank's highest levels, say that they knew nothing of the salary hike, according to the Washington-based Government Accountability Project, a whistleblower protection organisation.

The new revelation appears to be at odds with the line maintained by officials in Wolfowitz's office... .
What a surprise. Another gonnoff from the Bush administration caught lying.

Most recently, as an op-ed in today's WaPo notes, it's been disclosed that Wolfowitz also gave two other "loyal Bushies" -- both of them political hacks with no particular educational or professional qualifications -- lifetime World Bank employment contracts for about a quarter million dollars each per year:
Kevin Kellems, an unremarkable press-officer-cum-aide who had previously worked for Wolfowitz at the Pentagon, pulls down $240,000 tax-free -- the low end of the salary scale for World Bank vice presidents, who typically have PhDs and 25 years of development experience. Robin Cleveland, who also parachuted in with Wolfowitz, gets $250,000 and a free pass from the IRS, far more than her rank justifies. Kellems and Cleveland have contracts that don't expire when Wolfowitz's term is up. They have been granted quasi-tenure.
Kellems is Dick Cheney's former press flack. Cleveland was staff assistant to Wolfowitz in charge of "post-war Iraq planning" -- so you can figure out how smart she is.

Given Wolfowitz' corrupt management style and the fact that Kellems and Cleveland came as a package, you have to wonder who they're sleeping with. There's no wondering who's getting screwed, though: the World Bank, the nations it's supposed to serve, and U.S. taxpayers.

Friday am

Late Thursday, the World Bank's board of directors released a damning 7-page report and 102 pages of attached documents pertaining to l'affaire Wolfowitz. In a just world, his goose would be rightly cooked. Remember, though: the U.S. government exercises effective control of the World Bank's board of directors.

Friday pm
The non-profit watchdog group, Government Accountability Project, has discovered that Wolfowitz' love interest, Shaha Riza, "was turned down twice" for a promotion "because Riza lacked the professional qualifications necessary for a GH level position as a Communications Adviser... ." That action was taken by "the Communications Network Sector Board (Comnet), the appropriate authorizing body. "

Apparently, they weren't sleeping with her. But once Wolfowitz went to bat for his bedmate, she got the promotion and was given "a title held by only one person in Comnet -- Shaha Riza."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wicked funny picture!