This morning, I heard yet another tirade against Paul Wolfowitz and his “scandal” at the World Bank involving his paramour. And for the life of me, I still don’t grasp what the scandal is.
Wolfowitz and Riza began their relationship while he was still part of the Bush administration. He was later named head of the World Bank, where she worked. At some point, he did something unethical, but I don’t see where he went wrong.
Did he make certain all involved parties were aware of the relationship before he took the job? Yes.
Did he make certain he was not in any direct oversight position of Ms. Riza? Yes.
Did he attempt to recuse himself from any matters involving Ms. Riza? Yes.
Did he turn the entire matter over to the banks Ethics Board, and pledge to respect any decisions they made? Yes.
Was Ms. Riza’s career going well before Wolfowitz took the job? Yes.
Was Ms. Riza’s performance considered exemplary before Wolfowitz took the job? Yes.
Did the Ethics Board recommend that Ms. Riza be “loaned” to a US government agency to remove her from even indirect oversight by Wolfowitz, with a raise commensurate with others in similar positions and with similar records? Yes.
The key to the whole story — and the one element missing from that tirade this morning — is that Wolfowitz did one unforgivably stupid thing: he trusted bureaucrats to act in good faith.
He sent the entire matter to the Bank’s Ethics Board, and said that he’d abide by their decisions. They came back with their settlement, but insisted that they did not have the authority to actually implement it — only he could sign off on it and make it happen. So he did precisely that — and that signature on Riza’s settlement is what’s being used to pummel him now, and threatens his job.
How desperate are they to get rid of Wolfowitz? Desperate enough to break their own personnel rules:
This weekend the committee investigating the claims dropped 600 pages in the president’s lap and told him he had 48 hours to respond–in direct violation of World Bank staff rule 8.01, 4.09, which states that “the amount of time allowed a staff member to comment [on an investigative report] . . . will not be less than 5 business days.” Following protests from Mr. Wolfowitz’s lawyer, the committee gave him 72 hours.
Sometimes I rely too much on the “they piss off the right people” principle for deciding whether or not I support someone or something, and not enough on actual details of the individual or principle at stake. But in this case, if George Soros, corrupt European bureaucrats, and the most rabid left (who have decided that feminism and equality of the sexes be damned, Riza can — and should — be denouced as a “concubine” or worse) are all so bent out of shape, then Wolfowitz has to be doing something right.