Monday, April 16, 2007

The NYT Goes Wolf(owitz) Hunting - But On What Grounds?

I will admit that I have have not been following the Wolfowitz saga that closely. But as least one reader has. I received this e-mail today from Steve H that I reprint here in its entirety and with a few minor additions of my own:

I thought you'd find the contrast between these two articles stunning. The
Left is doing a hatchet job on Wolfowitz for obvious reason so he asked that
the bank release all his records. Read this from the NYT.

"Time for Mr. Wolfowitz to Go"

The reason Paul Wolfowitz should resign as president of the World Bank . . . [is] because he made clean governance his main cause at the bank and has fallen far short of his own standards.

The facts are not in dispute. When Mr. Wolfowitz was appointed he was in a personal relationship with a woman employed there. Since working under Mr. Wolfowitz’s supervision would violate the bank’s conflict-of-interest rules, she was reassigned to the State Department, where she initially worked under Liz Cheney, the vice president’s daughter.

She remained on the bank’s payroll, and it now turns out that Mr. Wolfowitz helped arrange for her to receive a whopping $60,000 raise. Mr. Wolfowitz has launched a full rearguard action, apologizing to the staff, pledging full cooperation with any investigation, and appealing to staff members not to hold his “previous job” against him.

Now compare that gem of New York Times' opinion writing with the somewhat more substantive and factually developed one from the WSJ:

"The Wolfowitz Files"

The anatomy of a World Bank smear.

The World Bank released its files in the case of President Paul Wolfowitz's ethics on Friday, and what a revealing download it is. On the evidence in these 109 pages, it is clearer than ever that this flap is a political hit based on highly selective leaks to a willfully gullible press corps.

. . . The documents tell a very different story--one that makes us wonder if some bank officials weren't trying to ambush Mr. Wolfowitz from the start.

. . . The paper trail shows that Mr. Wolfowitz had asked to recuse himself from matters related to his girlfriend, a longtime World Bank employee, before he signed his own employment contract. The bank's general counsel at the time, Roberto Danino, wrote in a May 27, 2005 letter to Mr. Wolfowitz's lawyers:

"First, I would like to acknowledge that Mr. Wolfowitz has disclosed to the Board, through you, that he has a pre-existing relationship with a Bank staff member, and that he proposes to resolve the conflict of interest in relation to Staff Rule 3.01, Paragraph 4.02 by recusing himself from all personnel matters and professional contact related to the staff member." (Our emphasis here and elsewhere.)

That would have settled the matter at any rational institution, given that his girlfriend, Shaha Riza, worked four reporting layers below the president in the bank hierarchy. But the bank board--composed of representatives from donor nations--decided to set up an ethics committee to investigate. And it was the ethics committee that concluded that Ms. Riza's job entailed a "de facto conflict of interest" that could only be resolved by her leaving the bank.

Ms. Riza was on a promotion list at the time, and so the bank's ethicists also proposed that she be compensated for this blow to her career. In a July 22, 2005, ethics committee discussion memo, Mr. Danino noted that "there would be two avenues here for promotion--an 'in situ' promotion to Grade GH for the staff member" and promotion through competitive selection to another position." Or, as an alternative, "The Bank can also decide, as part of settlement of claims, to offer an ad hoc salary increase."

Five days later, on July 27, ethics committee chairman Ad Melkert formally advised Mr. Wolfowitz in a memo that "the potential disruption of the staff member's career prospect will be recognized by an in situ promotion on the basis of her qualifying record . . ." In the same memo, Mr. Melkert recommends "that the President, with the General Counsel, communicates this advice" to the vice president for human resources "so as to implement" it immediately.

And in an August 8 letter, Mr. Melkert advised that the president get this done pronto: "The EC [ethics committee] cannot interact directly with staff member situations, hence Xavier [Coll, the human resources vice president] should act upon your instruction." Only then did Mr. Wolfowitz instruct Mr. Coll on the details of Ms. Riza's new job and pay raise.

Needless to say, none of this context has appeared in the media smears suggesting that Mr. Wolfowitz pulled a fast one to pad the pay of Ms. Riza. Yet the record clearly shows he acted only after he had tried to recuse himself but then wasn't allowed to do so by the ethics committee. And he acted only after that same committee advised him to compensate Ms. Riza for the damage to her career from a "conflict of interest" that was no fault of her own.
My comment: This is an incredibly transparent and ham-handed set-up of Mr. Wolfowitz. This is even more of a non-scandal then the fired U.S. Attorneys. And it is no surpise that the NYT buys into it completely. Is there nothing the New York Times will not dissemble about in order to see covervatives gutted and the far left take power in America? They need to be forced to reorganize as a 527 organization. Steve's comment: Paul Wolfowitz, meet the Duke lacrosse team.

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