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Wolfowitz's right hand man jumps ship. News just in: Kevin Kellems, Paul Wolfowitz's spin doctor and enforcer, has announced he is leaving the Bank. This is surely a sign that the Wolfowitz camp is very worried, and hopefully a sign that more resignations will follow this week.
Kellems told Reuters he was leaving "for other opportunities". "Given the current environment surrounding the leadership of the World Bank Group, it is very difficult to be effective in helping to advance the mission of the institution," Kellems said.
Kevin Kellems has been an advisor to Wolfowitz since 2002, firstly at the Pentagon during the planning of the Iraq war and subsequently at the Bank where he followed Wolfowitz two years ago.
Could this be a prelude to a week of further resignations? I expect so. Remember that Wolfowitz already offered to sacrifice his other aide Robin Cleveland, an offer that World Bank staff rejected.
But I don't think this is just an effort by the Wolfowitz camp to show that they are taking action. Kellems may be running scared of journalists who are closely pursuing several leads on his allegedly less than professional conduct while on certain missions for the World Bank in Brazil, Singapore and China. On Saturday a major European TV channel ramped up its efforts to validate these stories. The fact that a big story may have been about to break on this, following weeks of rumours, may have made Kellems decide his continued presence at the Bank was a danger to his boss. Another possibility is that Kellems is due to get heavily sanctioned by the Bank's board which on 19 April extended its inquiry to "the various public communications made by the Bank on the matter and issues around employment contracts made in the Office of the President".
This rushed exit is certainly a big come-down for the man who is widely considered to have been behind some of Wolfowitz's most aggressive press messaging. For example the famous off the record denunciation of UK minister Hilary Benn at the time of the World Bank's 2006 Annual Meetings. At that time an unnamed Bank source said that Benn had tossed 'fictional red meat' to a hungry press corps for political reasons.
As this episode showed Kellems is the kind of man who would much prefer to stay on and fight Wolfowitz's corner.
Now that Kellems has departed to spend more time in the sauna it will certainly be hard for the Wolfowitz camp to keep the focus just on the narrow Rizagate issues this week. All bets are off on how many of the Wolfowitz senior appointees are preparing their resignation letters.
Update: this story has been widely picked up in the media, including by Inter-Press Service in an article citing www.worldbankpresident.org.
Also in a wry piece by Ward Harkavy of Village Voice. Harkavy was very early on several elements of this story.
Alex Wilks ~ May 07, 2007
That is why he is so anxious to announce it to the press by calling everyone in the media?
So, should we not assume that it is in fact, it is a smoke screen?
Suppose the resignation was refused by PW, or he rescinds it if the Board do not fire PW, then it is back to business as usual.
Why is it that I suspect even if he really resigned, he will be back on the payroll as a contractor pulling down $300k contracts?
If Kellems want to have any credibility, he would leave immediately, and furthermore, sign an agreement that bars himself from any further contracts with the bank or its subsidiaries and contractors.
I hate to be cynical, but this man does not lend a lot of credibility to his resignation offer when all the facts are taken in context.
PW, will you step up to the plate and verify that you have accepted Kellem's resignation and that he will not be 'looked after' otherwise with the resources of the Bank, either directly or indirectly?
While you are at it, how about making his severance package public?
None ~ May 07, 2007, 06:42 PM
Muasher has already accepted his resignation since it is officially posted on World Bank's press releases.
He will be a fool to rescind should PW stay. I believe that he must have been privy (or got wind of) to the Panel findings and things do not look rosy.
Yul ~ May 07, 2007, 06:53 PM
Guy knows which side his bread is buttered. I think he knows which way the wind is blowing and wants to stay viable for something else. His logic, that he can't be effective anymore is spot on, it makes me wonder why PW doesn't recognize the writing on the wall, too.
noone ~ May 07, 2007, 07:20 PM
One down, (6?) more to go
Keelemself ~ May 07, 2007, 09:11 PM
Is it 100 percent clear that the Kellems resignation is solely related to the Wolfowitz business?
P O'Neill ~ May 08, 2007, 01:32 AM
Who knows when one is dealing with a spin doctor? Any excuse is good to make an exit w/o noise.
yul ~ May 08, 2007, 01:59 AM
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