World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, staffed by legal counsel Robert Bennett at his side, will have an opportunity to respond to allegations of nepotism and inappropriate conduct at a meeting today. The stakes are high for Wolfowitz and the Bank. If one wins, the other loses.
Sources tell me that there probably will not be action on Wolfowitz’s petition today — but his fate will be determined within the week.
The real issue at hand is corporate governance inside the bank — and this of course, is one of the Bank’s central themes in its interactions with client governments and collaborating partners and institutions.
Reports are bubbling out from Bank staff and World Bank clients that there is no way that Wolfowitz can go back to his position and keep the place from revolting against him, boycotting his presence and work, and the like. Some governments have already issued private communications to Wolfowitz not to visit them — at least not until this imbroglio is settled. The Bank staff is in open revolt, and many fear that they will be purged by Wolfowitz if they lose this high-risk battle.
All sorts of players are lining up on this. Former Atlanta Mayor and Ambassador to the UN Andrew Young fell a few notches in my eyes for his obsequious piece calling on us to give Paul Wolfowitz “another chance.” Young fails to mention that part of Wolfowitz’ “portfolio problem” is that he elevated two monstrous personalities who had virtually no development experience to two of the most important jobs in the Bank.
Kevin Kellems — former spokeman for Vice President Cheney — came into a key role at the Bank that should have been reserved for those elevated through meritocratic selection. Kellems has been hounding and harassing Bank staffers who were blowing the whistle on the Bank President’s “absence of a plan” as well as for those he felt were at ideological odds with Wolfowitz — particularly on the Iraq War. According to numerous sources, Kellems has had issues not to different from those related to Randall Tobias of late. Even Wolfowitz has been infuriated with a few judgment lapses by Kellems — with reports of Wolfowitz screaming at him on the phone in Brazil for private misbehavior that also seriously delayed the World Bank delegation and plane flight.
In another new development, I have learned that Robin Cleveland will accompany Wolfowitz to his hearing today and be asked to explain her role in a faked email draft that is pivotal in the case — and may be evidence of an effort to cover-up some of the massaging of girlfriend Shaha Riza’s employment trajectory.
— Steve Clemons