Tip of the iceburg–Enablers of the Wolfowitz Scandal

The heroic Internal Communications team that is monitoring the internal bulletin boards is cracking down on comments posted about the Bank’s senior management. Two postings about General Counsel Ana Palacio’s flouting of the Staff Rules about political activities, including one with a link to worldbankpresident.org were removed, without acknowledgement. Another has just gone up, but how long will it stay?

By contrast, a posting on the EXT at 10:10 Washington time was still there two hours later. It asks pointed questions about what was going on while Kevin Kellems was running the Bank’s communications shop. Some very interesting issues (reformatted for easier reading):

EXT [The Bank’s External Relations department] has a lot of problems, including denial that it has problems. The result of the Kellems period has been a series of appointments that have cleaned out experience and increased spin capacity at the expense of substance.

This and the damage to EXT reputation during TCS and before as the 24/7 promoters of PW needs to be examined in full, only then can it play a role in restoring leadership of the Bank as a whole. EXT has lost credibility with important media sources, and it was regarded as the last place to go for reliable information over the past weeks.

And then there are the integrity issues. Many of them.

Most importantly, who knew what about the Kellems Brazil trip (and other trips), who failed to report it, and who failed to report what reputable sources report was obvious and persistent harrassment of a female Bank staff member? Lots of this was known in the corridors by quite a large group of people involved with the trip, it seems.

But some knew much more than others. Did anyone in EXT know that the staff member was pressured not to file a report? Do they know what are our rules on sexual harrassment?

This is an outrage and it needs full airing. And no, IC, you can’t take this down — this has been in the papers, on all sorts of websites and blogs, and it is one of many issues that needs plain discussion and sorting out.

None of this touches Marwan Muasher, he wasn’t even here. He is an interesting man, and able, though he has a lot to learn. But did he get a full briefing on these issues, or did his staff somehow fail to mention it?

He now needs to get to the bottom of it — who knew what, who covered up what, who failed to report what, and what needs to happen in future if anything similar happens, no matter how powerful the official. And whose careers and SRIs advanced while they looked the other way.

Or EXT has no integrity. And don’t say there was nowhere to report — there was the Staff Association if all else failed.

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