In accord with the revelations in Bret Stephens piece today, I see the Wolfowitz/Riza response yesterday moving from a defensive to an offensive posture, and disagree with the many reports suggesting that if the World Bank will only clear Wolfowitz of the charge of wrongdoing in the settlement of Riza's claim against the Bank, he will resign.
Here are key portions of their presentations to the Board yesterday [Emphasis supplied]:
"To this day, I wonder why the committee insisted that I, rather than one of its members, be the one to instruct Mr. Coll [HR Director]. I only know that Ms, Riza was very upset by the Committee's decision that she should be separated in some form from her current career at the Bank, and that Mr. Melkert [chairman of Ethics Committee] commented on several occasions that we needed to reach a "pragmatic solution" to this difficulty. Perhaps the Committee felt that I, because of my personal relationship with Ms. Riza, was in the best position to achieve such a "pragmatic" solution with her. Or perhaps the Committee simply did not want to get in the middle of a sticky employment situation. Clearly, Managing Director Shengman Zhang, who would have been the logical person for the Committee to call on to handle the matter, was compromised because his wife worked under him and had not been required to relocate. "
"It is clear that the Ethics Committee had available any materials that they wished to review in regard to my placement outside. Indeed, the Chairman of the Ethics Committee stated in his letter to the President dated October 24, 2005, that 'the outcome is consistent with the Ethics Committee's findings and advice , ,, and the Committee concurs with your view that this matter can be treated as closed.' This letter makes it obvious that the Ethics Committee must have looked at the Agreement and considered it satisfactory. If it did not, it was negligent in its duties. [....]
Moreover, during my negotiations with Mr. Coll, neither he nor anyone else ever suggested to me that my compensation package might violate Bank policy in any way. In his letter to me on September 1, 2005, Mr. Coll stated that the 'perceived conflict is not of your making,' adding: 'There is no precedent of this kind and no personnel policy that clearly applies to resolve it.'
It seems to me that both are saying that the Bank has left itself open for a broad examination of its internal operations and that neither will accept the self-perpetuating notion that once having been smeared by lies, Wolfowitz cannot now effectively continue in his post.
That the truth of this matter has received any airing at all is due to the laudatory efforts of the Wall Street Journal, which did not simply print the slanders of the staff and anti-Wolfowitz members of the Bank, and Fox News which obtained and made public key documents of the incident. Almost all the rest of the media was perfectly content to aid in the effort to smear Wolfowitz.
We still do not have a proper read-out from yesterday's board meeting with Paul Wolfowitz (check back here later for more). But one Bank staffmember, who prefers to conceal his identity, wrote to me saying that Wolfowitz emerged pleased and thinks he might get to hang on. The Bank staff member's reaction - he would have to leave: "if Wolfowitz stays, it will just prove to all of us that the Bank is a pure puppet of the US administration, and not the place where many of us want to spend their careers".
"Inside sources say that PW was very pleased with how his meeting with the ad hoc committee went. His lawyer's posturing, the 'I am a victim' line and threats to go public with the whole salary structure seem to be working. I was hoping the EDs would not be intimidated...but fear that they will fail to leave up to their responsibilities. If the countries don't push now, it won't happen. He'll stay. Mark my words".
He continues: "If Wolfowitz stays, it will just prove to all of us that the Bank is a pure puppet of the US administration, and not the place where many of us want to spend their careers. This organization, if PW remains as its head, will be dysfunctional and useless. I, for one, will go work elsewhere. I hope others will do the same rather than work for that hypocrite".