who will be next World Bank President What will they do


The *first* Wolfowitz/Riza scandal. Well, who knows, maybe not the first. But at least prior to the one that's consuming so much attention now. The New York Times (and its sister paper International Herald Tribune) report on that niggling matter that Alex and one of our correspondents have been complaining hasn't received enough attention: how Riza, then a regular WB employee, ended up working on a non-WB contract in Iraq in April/May 2003 (shortly after the invasion) without the Bank's knowledge. Turns out the Pentagon -- where Wolfowitz was #2 at the time -- ordered its contractor to hire her.

The article includes an interview with Jean-Louis Sarbib, who was at the time the Bank's Vice President for the region that includes Iraq, and was Shaha Riza's direct supervisor. He admits he should have known about the arrangement, but was never told. And he says that there were a lot of questions about why Riza gave a presentation to the World Bank board when she came back from Iraq, offering a relatively optimistic view of the country's future.

"It was not clear why the Pentagon specifically asked for Riza to travel to Iraq. At the time, however, the World Bank did not have a relationship with Iraq. Normal bank rules do not allow the bank to provide economic assistance to an area under military occupation," report Steven Weisman and David Sanger. "Riza's trip raised concerns among some bank officials, who said they did not know under whose auspices she had traveled to Iraq at a time when it was against bank policy for its officials to go there."

Incidentally, the man in charge of the office that was said to have insisted on Riza's hire, Under Secretary for Defense in charge of policy, Douglas Feith (who has since left the Dept of Defense), is a particularly notorious character in the effort to justify the U.S. invasion of Iraq. One of the main figures in the Wolfowitz cabal at Defense, he was put in charge of creating a secret, wholly separate and new intelligence agency, to counter the inconvenient reports put out by what Cheney and Wolfowitz felt were the amateurs at the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency.

Soren Ambrose ~ April 17, 2007

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