Secretary of the Treasury “Hank Paulson can easily control his enthusiasm for Paul Wolfowitz,” according to a source close to Paulson, “but he does not have enough yet to stick the final knife in.”
Next week, a special subcommittee will further investigate and advise the Board of the World Bank on what to do with the embattled World Bank President who has shaken the confidence and trust of his own employees as well as client and stakeholder governments of the Bank.
Graeme Wheeler, a Managing Director of the World Bank of one of two of Wolfowitz’s top deputies, has publicly called for Wolfowitz to resign. Bank staffers are now wearing blue ribbons inside the bank, in the same manner as red AIDS awareness ribbons or yellow ribbons commemorating soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, to protest Wolfowitz’s nepotism and support the World Bank Staff Committee. (This morning I ran with a group of about 50 runners and one prominent former World Bank official was wearing his blue ribbon on his running shirt.)
Sidney Blumenthal has written a devastating indictment of Paul Wolfowitz’s earlier misjudgments involving girlfriend Shaha Riza, who is Libyan and raised in Saudi Arabia. According to Blumenthal, Riza was hired by defense contractor SAIC at the instruction and through a contract issued by Douglas Feith’s office. She would have needed a security clearance for this work and according to State Department officials, that clearance would have been provided by the Department of Defense and then recognized by State. Again according to Blumenthal, details of that clearance — in required correspondence between the two departments — cannot now be found. Nonetheless, State Department officials have confirmed to Blumenthal — and additionally to me — that Shaha Riza had “unescorted access” at the State Department when then working with Elizabeth Cheney.
Contrast the potential national security breaches by those at the top of the ladder to those further down the food chain.
A well respected Foreign Service officer, Donald Keyser, who also had a girlfriend problem and who mismanaged intelligence responsibilities far less severely than former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger and former CIA director John Deutsch, nonetheless is now serving jail time for his error. The judge in the case made it clear that he felt the government attorneys had over-reached and that the law was being misapplied.
But in the Wolfowitz-Riza case, his interventions on her behalf produced unfettered, unescorted access to the State Department — and we still don’t have information on whether her clearance was even valid at DoD or State.
AVAAZ.org now has more than 35,000 signatures on a petition calling for Wolfowitz to be fired. It’s time that that entire roster of Wolfowitz opponents be put on Secretary of Treasury Paulson’s desk.
But. . .if that is not enough, let me add one more item that should disgust the high and mighty who must at least pretend that public service is what motivates their participation in public life and top positions.
According to an internal source at the Bank, Paul Wolfowitz negotiated a different contractual arrangement when he became President of the Bank than did James Wolfensohn. Well, of course. . .one might say. . .they are different people with different issues.
However, one of the key items that Wolfowitz allegedly had removed from his employment contract was a restriction on “speaking fees.”
Former UN Ambassador John Bolton is raking in the cash now as a hired public speaker. Bill Clinton has put away tens of millions of dollars. Secretary of State Colin Powell has also assembled a speaker fee loaded chest of wealth way into the eight figures. Wolfowitz wanted that option as well.
I have not found evidence yet that Wolfowitz has accepted a speaking fee as of yet — and can’t find him overtly listed on any of the major speakers bureau websites, not even those focused exclusively on neocon representation. (but do email me if you have any particular insights into any speaker fee activity by the former Deputy Defense Secretary.)
The speaker fee issue — if not restricted by his Bank employment contract — would not violate any “rules” of the Bank. However, it further demonstrates how Wolfowitz’s personal judgment and moral code of conduct clearly runs across the line of publicly acceptable, credible behavior, particularly when encumbered with a position of “public trust” as important as the head of the World Bank.
Others will soon be writing about this speaker fee issue. Wolfowitz should address it immediately.
What is the rest of the story? Why did Wolfowitz want this exemption? Why would he feel that that would be appropriate?
Is this another item for which he will have to issue an apology?
— Steve Clemons