Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Post and the Foreign Agent


A week ago, with the Paul Wolfowitz scandal at the World Bank at full pitch, people following the controversy were surprised to see a passionate defense of Wolfowitz that appeared on the op-ed page of The Washington Post It read:

We must get beyond the current crisis at the World Bank, a careful examination of which will show that Wolfowitz was operating in what he felt was the best interest of the institution and with the guidance of its ethics committee.

The author was Andrew Young, the former civil rights leader and onetime US ambassador to the United Nations.

Young began his piece by invoking the memories of Martin Luther King Jr. and Martin Luther King Sr.:

"Daddy King" -- the Rev. Martin Luther King Sr. -- was always reminding us that "hate is too great a burden to bear." Even after a childhood of racist oppression and the cruel assassination of both his son Martin by white men and his wife by a deranged black man as she sat at the organ of Ebenezer Baptist Church playing the Lord's Prayer, he daily affirmed that we must never stoop to hate.

Young's message was, don't hate Wolfowitz. Not even for starting the Iraq war. Young noted he had once fantasized about giving Wolfowitz "a good thrashing" for that. But then he got to know Wolfowitz and "decided to work" with him "as a brother." He came to see Wolfowitz as devoted to promoting development in Africa. "It is my appeal," Young wrote, "that we offer Paul Wolfowitz the same chance to learn from the misjudgments of the past and move on together to construct a more just, prosperous and nonviolent world."

This was quite an endorsement from a fellow who was trying to place the moral capital of the King family behind the on-the-ropes neoconservative.

The Post identified Young this way:

Andrew Young has served as executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, as mayor of Atlanta and as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. He is co-chairman of Good Works International, a consulting firm offering advice in emerging markets in the Caribbean and Africa.

The bio left out a crucial fact: Young is a paid lobbyist for Nigeria. According to records Young filed with the Justice Department, he registered as a foreign agent for Nigeria and works to advance the interests of the Nigerian government in Washington. And Nigeria has been a supporter of Wolfowitz during the current imbroglio. The day after Young's article appeared in The Washington Post, Nuhu Ribadu, chairman of Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, published an op-ed in The New York Times headlined, "Why Wolfowitz Should Stay." With the Young and Ribadu articles, it looked as if Nigeria was mounting a coordinated campaign to prop up Wolfowitz.

Washington Post readers, though, had no reason to suspect that Young had any agenda other than a personal commitment to justice and social development. The Post did not mention he had a financial relationship with a government backing Wolfowitz. (Young is also a registered lobbyist for Tanzania and Rwanda.)

The other day, I emailed Fred Hiatt, the editor of the Post's op-ed page and asked whether the paper should have acknowledged Young's financial tie to Nigeria in the author identification. Hiatt politely replied:

I asked [Young] if he had any business connection to the World Bank, and he assured me no. So our description seemed reasonable. Perhaps you're right (if you're correct that he is currently taking money from these governments); on the other hand a reader might just as well think that someone offering advice on investing in emerging markets would have reason not to offend the World Bank, so I'm not sure a reader's wariness would be any higher with your description.

Hiatt is justifiably looking for the best interpretation of the available facts. And if his account is accurate, it appears that Young was not fully candid with him. But Post readers deserved to know that the man praising Wolfowitz was being paid by a government supporting Wolfowitz. With such information in hand, a reader of this article would have been in a better position to evaluate its argument.

Was the Young op-ed part of a Nigerian government effort to influence opinion in the United States (and elsewhere)? That's for Young--not Hiatt--to answer. I left several messages at Young's offices yesterday and heard nothing back.

You cannot blame a foreign agent for doing his job. But Post readers ought to have been told more about the man coming to Wolfowitz's rescue.


UPDATE: Hours after the above item was posted, a spokesperson for Good Works International, Young's firm, sent me the following note:

Please be advised that the representation contract with the Government of Nigeria expired at the beginning of April 2007. GoodWorks continues to represent the Governments of Rwanda and Tanzania here in Washington. Ambassador Young is among those at GoodWorks registered as a representative of Rwanda and Tanzania.

Still, Young ought to have disclosed to the Post that he had just left the Nigerian payroll before writing the Post op-ed, and the newspaper should have shared that information with its readers.

Posted by David Corn at May 10, 2007 12:34 PM


capt said...

Mr. David Corn,

As I don't take the WaPo seriously all I can say is: I am damn glad YOU are here busting their collective chops!

The propaganda arm of this WH is all over the WaPo and the NYT's. Is this the kind of crud what we should be paying for from the MSM?

Thanks for all of your work, keep these SOB's in check.


capt said...

Roundtable with Ambassador Andrew Young and Dean Bahl, Georgia State, GA

Paul Wolfowitz
World Bank President
December 11, 2006

Dr Bahl: It’s very nice to see you on this important day. I see a lot of familiar faces, so, I welcome you today. As you know President Wolfowitz is with us today and we thought we would do a round table discussion on economic development. So, let me begin by telling you a little something about our two panelists. President Wolfowitz, the tenth President of the World Bank, has had a distinguished career in government, in public service and in academia. What you do know is that he was Deputy Secretary of Defense from 2001 to 2005 and you probably know he was the United States Ambassador to Indonesia. What you may not know is that he was Dean of the School of International Studies at Johns Hopkins. You ought to feel comfortable here.

Paul Wolfowitz: Nice to be back in school.

Speaker: He has a PhD. in Political Science from the University of Chicago and he taught at Yale.

Speaker: Ambassador Young, is an honest to goodness icon and an American hero. He was a civil rights leader, as you know, a Congressman, United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Mayor of Atlanta, instrumental in bringing the Olympics to our town. He chairs Good Works International, which is a company that lives up to its name, and he of course is the name that we chose to put on our Policy School. So, two very distinguished panelists.

Andrew Young: We share one thing in common which I did not realize until a year or so ago, and that is that his mentor was George Shultz, Secretary of the Treasury and Secretary of State when I was in Congress. And it was George Shultz that, when I was on a Banking Committee, first pulled me in to international economic affairs and actually took me to my first trip to Africa.

Paul Wolfowitz: Shultz has this incredible career. He was head of an academic institution, the Chicago Business School. He was CEO of Bechtel, a big private corporation. He was Chairman three or four times, and someone asked him once how you compare management in the private sector with government or a university, and he thought about it for a minute. He said, "Well, it is this, in the private sector, you’d better be careful what you ask for because people will actually do it, so you need to be sure it is what you want."


*****end of clip*****

Seems Young and Wolfowitz have a long a friendly history that the WaPo didn't know about. The nexus? George Shultz - THAT is the sound of Rev. King turning in his grave.


capt said...

US DJ criticised over Obama song

US talk show host Rush Limbaugh has come under fire for airing a racially charged song about the Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Limbaugh has been playing a song called Barack the Magic Negro, to the tune of Puff the Magic Dragon.

The right-wing talk show host defended himself by saying he is an entertainer and the song is a parody.

Mr Obama, who hopes to become the first black American president, has played down the row.

Rush Limbaugh, whose radio show is one of the most popular in the US, justified running the song by saying that an article by a black commentator in the liberal Los Angeles Times was the first to link the term "magic negro" to Mr Obama.


*****end of clip*****

The real sad commentary with regard to the racially INSULTING song is the fact that it was run WEEKS ago and only came as an afterthought to the Imus firing.

Imagine how the rest of the planet sees us Americans when this sort of thing goes nearly unnoticed? The rest of the planet takes notice and America is diminished in its esteem.


David B. Benson said...

I'm verrry busy just now, but...

Kick 'em all out!

O'Reilly said...


Great topic for today's post. When I learned Andrew Young spoke publicly in support of Wolfowitz as WB leader, I wondered why. Thanks for digging in and giving us the story.

O'Reilly said...

Blair urges White House to shift focus to Israel-Palestine conflict

· Palestinian peace process 'central to Iraq solution'
· Syria and Iran also have a role to play, says PM

Patrick Wintour and Richard Norton-Taylor
Tuesday November 14, 2006
The Guardian

Tony Blair made an open plea yesterday to George Bush to recognise that a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict lies at the core of any hopes for wider peace in the Middle East, including Iraq.

In his annual foreign policy speech, seen as a chance to recalibrate Britain's Iraq strategy, Mr Blair said a solution to the conflict was central to a strategy that "pins back the forces trying to create mayhem inside Iraq".

When Bush pushed Blair to forge peace in Northern Ireland (which he has done) Bush told Blair he'd forge a peace between Israel and her neighbors.

Liar liar pants on fire.

All the Israel haters in the world and the middle east still have their hate to motivate them.

Bush is a useless lying tool with horrible judgment, a policy sensibility concerned only with politics and personality anomalies that cripple his decision-making ability.

capt said...

"Bush is a useless lying tool with horrible judgment, a policy sensibility concerned only with politics and personality anomalies that cripple his decision-making ability."

And he is a JERK!


capt said...

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