Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Wolf Who Cried "Media"

Paul Wolfowitz, a leading architect of our war in Iraq, is blaming his departure from the World Bank on the standard neoconservative scapegoat--the media.

In an interview with the BBC on Monday, Wolfowitz denied that his decision to leave was caused by a lack of support of the bank's employees. From the Associated Press:
"I think it tells us more about the media than about the bank and I'll leave it at that," he told the British Broadcasting Corp. "People were reacting to a whole string of inaccurate statements and by the time we got to anything approximating accuracy the passions were around the bend."

Wolfowitz said that he was pleased the bank's board accepted that he had acted ethically, and in good faith in his handling of a generous compensation package for his girlfriend and bank employee Shaha Riza in 2005.

The bank's board accepted that he had acted ethically? That's an interesting conclusion. On May 17, ABC News reported that "An internal panel tasked with investigating the lucrative pay and promotion package Wolfowitz arranged in 2005 for girlfriend Shaha Riza found him guilty of breaking bank rules."

The New York Times said that the board's decision to accept Wolfowitz's claim that his mistakes were made in good faith and " what he believed were the best interests of the institution" followed four days after the investigative committee found he had broken his contract by breaking ethical and governing rules.

Somewhere between the internal panel's investigation and the statement by the bank's board, a lot of legs must have been broken (Dick Cheney was, as you might guess, pulling strings for Wolfowitz from behind an undisclosed curtain) . From the Times:
By all accounts, the terms of Mr. Wolfowitz’s exoneration left a bitter taste with most of the 24 board members, who represent major donor countries, as well as clusters of smaller donor and recipient countries. Most had wanted to adopt the findings of the special board committee that determined he had acted unethically on the matter of Ms. Riza.


It's entirely possible that Wolfowitz honestly believes he did nothing wrong, and that the media really are to blame for his demise at the World Bank. He may have genuinely believed in the myth that Iraqi could use its oil to "finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon." or that Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda could not have executed the 9/11 attacks without help from Saddam Hussein, or the dozens of other delusional positions he has espoused off and on over the past several years.

I find it particularly revolting that in December 2002 he said of the looming Iraq invasion that, “I do know, emphatically, that it's not a war for oil,” when asked in June 2003 why nuclear power North Korea was being treated differently than Iraq, Wolfowitz said, "The most important difference between North Korea and Iraq is that economically, we just had no choice in Iraq. The country swims on a sea of oil."

And of course there's the Wolfowitz admission from May 2003 that when it came to justifying the Iraq invasion, the Bush administration "settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on."

That "the one reason everyone could agree on" turned out to be a false one likely had little effect on Wolfowitz's conscience. Heck by the time anyone thought to question the fuzzy pretexts of Wolfie's war, "People were reacting to a whole string of inaccurate statements and by the time we got to anything approximating accuracy the passions were around the bend."

Fuzzy Pretexts

Wolfowitz told the World Bank's investigative committee that he really didn't have a choice but to give his girlfriend a raise. See, Ms. Riza had been a World Bank employee for eight years when Wolfie was named bank president in 2005. Riza was also a vocal women's rights advocate. There's not a darn thing wrong with that, of course, unless you use as an excuse to commit extortion.

When Wolfie came to the bank, the bank's ethics committee determined that Riza needed to leave in order to avoid a conflict of interest. Riza agreed to accept an "external assignment" to the U.S. State Department, even though through some unexplained stratagem, she stayed on the World Bank payroll. And through yet another unexplained bit of maneuvering, her income jumped from $133,000 to $193,590 in just two years. As a State Department employee on the World Bank payroll, Riza was making more that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made before taxes.

Why would Wolfie go so far out of his way to help out his girlfriend? He was trying to keep Riza from filing a lawsuit against the World Bank. "The irony of my working to ensure women's participation and rights through the work of the World Bank and [was] stripped of my own rights by this same institution," Riza wrote in a statement to the bank's investigating panel. "I was ready to pursue legal remedies. & I only acquiesced to signing the agreement so as not to cause turmoil at the bank."

According to the investigating panel, Wolfie tried to hide Riza's "deal" from the bank's top legal and ethics officials. (For a more detailed description of these events, see "World Bank's Former Top Lawyer Says Wolfowitz Spurned His Legal Advice" at Law.com.)

As part of his exit deal, Wolfie managed to wrangle himself an extra year's salary before he leaves at the end of June. Something just under 400 grand, no big deal to a guy like Wolfie, really. He's got plenty of ill-gotten loot stashed away, and come July, barring any other job offer, he'll join his pal John Bolton as a six-figure compensated senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

Bolton and Wolfowitz, there's a pair, huh? If there is a God, those two will see a lot of each other in the afterlife. And they'll no doubt spend eternity blaming their sins on the media.


  1. Anonymous9:58 AM

    I'll never be president, but in my fevered dream scenario I take office and proceed to fuck over every single one of these bastards. Is it wrong to have punitive revenge on ones mind for so long?

    Ah well, a man can dream.

  2. I disagree with virtually everything you say.

    But that's an hilarious title.

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