April 22, 2007
WaPo now basically supports Wolfowitz
Despite having megaphoned distortions of what happened at the World Bank for over a week after the exculpatory documents were made public, the editors of the Washington Post finally seems to be backing off and supporting Wolfowitz:
The allegations against Mr. Wolfowitz, which have angered many bank employees, are by now familiar. After arriving at the bank in the summer of 2005, he arranged a generous employment package for his companion, Shaha Riza, then a senior communications officer at the bank with expertise in Middle East affairs. These terms mandated a salary increase from $132,660 to $193,590, assigned her to a job outside the bank and laid out a path to further promotion and raises. This has been characterized as an underhanded deal that undermines Mr. Wolfowitz's campaign against corruption in poor countries applying for World Bank aid. Unfortunately, that thumbnail sketch omits some highly relevant facts. It was Mr. Wolfowitz who, before taking over at the bank, called the potential conflict of interest to the attention of the bank's ethics committee. He asked to be recused from any personnel decisions involving Ms. Riza. The committee agreed that a conflict existed, but it said that could probably be solved only by Ms. Riza leaving the bank, either permanently or on loan to another agency. The committee also told Mr. Wolfowitz that, if she chose to go elsewhere, Ms. Riza should be given a raise because she already had been short-listed for a promotion. So when Mr. Wolfowitz dictated her new terms of employment he was responding in part to the committee's instructions. Further raises were intended to be equal to what she might have earned had she stayed at the bank, responding to the committee's advice that she receive "compensation to offset negative career impact" from her reassignment.Was the package nonetheless too generous, even by cushy World Bank standards? The executive directors should answer that question. But there's a relevant fact here, too. The ethics panel reviewed the situation again a half-year later, in February 2006, after receiving an anonymous complaint from a bank employee precisely on the issue of excessive pay. Once again it found, "on the basis of a careful review," that the allegations "do not appear to pose ethical issues appropriate for further consideration by the Committee."
Whatever took them so long to come clean to the paper's readers?