Thursday, May 17, 2007

Wolfowitz: The Endgame

This morning, the Paul Wolfowitz scandal at the World Bank seems to be all over but the blaming.

The controversy hit an absurd point yesterday when Wolfowitz's lawyer, Bob Bennett, declared his client "will not leave under a cloud." Wolfowitz wants a statement from the Bank's board of directors (which is again meeting today to deal with the Wolfowitz affair) saying that he had committed no intentional wrongdoing when he arranged a generous salary boost for his girlfriend, Shaha Riza, who worked at the bank (and who had to be reassigned out of the Bank when Wolfowitz arrived as president). Team Wolfowitz is demanding that the board note that Wolfowitz received bad advice from others at the Bank. Sure, this is an obvious attempt at face-saving. But it is an odd position. If Wolfowitz had done no wrong, why should he leave?

The problem is this: a special committee of the board found that Wolfowitz broke the rules and engaged in a conflict of interest (at the urging of Riza) for Riza's financial benefit. She stood to gain millions of dollars due to his action. The panel's report was a strong indictment. ( I explain that here.) That is, the cloud is already there. Bennett cannot blow it away.

Wolfowitz, who never had to pay for the mistakes he made that led to the disaster in Iraq, is trying to dodge accountability. With the White House now signaling it would be okay with a Wolfowitz departure, Wolfowitz is trying to blackmail the Bank: if you don't denounce the findings of your own panel and clear me, I won't resign; I'll force you to fire me.

Though the Bank's board and Wolfowitz have yet to work through whatever convoluted terms might be crafted, it seems it would be impossible for Wolfowitz to remain at the Bank at this point. Think of Alec Baldwin and Kim Bassinger getting back together. Absent a surprise ending worthy of Hitchcock, Wolfowitz is destined to be the first Bank president to resign under fire since the institution was founded in 1944. The final moves are merely about spin.

The Bank's special committee concluded that Wolfowitz has been preoccupied "with self interest over [the] institutional best interest" of the Bank. With his last stand, Wolfowitz appears to be confirming this finding. It's a display of the same sort of arrogance and hubris that landed the United States in a mess in Iraq. Coincidence? I think not.

Posted by David Corn at May 17, 2007 11:23 AM


capt said...

Mr. David Corn,

"Coincidence? I think not."

I too think not. Wolfowitz wants a "Heck of a job Brownie" moment and maybe a medal.

The idiocy of the unrestrained uber-ego, eh?

Thanks for all your work.


Mookie said...

Another corrupt goon in a scandal-ridden administration finally gets his comeuppance.

Now tell us again, Mr. Corn, why should these guys not be impeached?

capt said...

German Parliament Condemns China's 'Laogai' Camps

The German parliament has condemned China's use of so-called 'laogai' labor camps and has passed a motion calling for an import ban on Chinese products manufactured using forced labor.

"In more than 1,000 prisons, work camps and supposed psychiatric clinics," the motion states, "dissidents are incarcerated and politically re-educated without due process." According to the motion, besides being subjected to political brainwashing, the prisoners are forced to perform hard and unpaid work -- for up to 16 hours a day, seven days a week, with only three to four days off a year.

Not only does the motion call upon the German government to condemn the camps, where between four and six million criminals and drug addicts, political dissidents and homosexuals are thought to be imprisoned. The motion also urges Germany to introduce a label that would henceforth provide consumers with a guarantee that the product they are purchasing has not been produced using laogai inmates.

The International Society for Human Rights (ISHR) called the German parliament's initiative a "human rights sensation." But the decision is also part of a trend: After consumer protection associations spent decades struggling to force producers to list the components in their products -- sometimes down to the milligram -- they are now also calling for transparency in labor conditions, which are often the decisive factor when it comes to competitiveness.

A growing number of these kinds of standards are finding their way into laws and regulations. Hundreds of German cities and boroughs are boycotting Indian suppliers of natural stone, if it's not possible to verify that the stone didn't come from quarries where child labor is employed.

In terms of public procurement law, of course, such boycotts are still illegal. But Germany's Economic Ministry is currently working on a new version of the law.


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

It would bode badly for the USA to make much noise about forced labor when many of our own "private industry" prisons are a labor industry.


capt said...

"why should these guys not be impeached?"

The only reason I can think of: Impeachment is not even close to justice for war criminals. These guys started a war, invaded as an unprovoked aggressor a sovereign country on a pack of lies and complete fabrications.

The politically motivated firing of US attorneys can't be more important in the larger scheme of things except to the MSM.

Maybe the crimes against humanity thing is just to much for our legal system. So far the crime of war seems to have dropped from the radar.

Throw on some domestic spying and non-FISA warrantless wiretaps that have already been ruled illegal, the kangaroo courts at GITMO, etc. and one is tempted to think we are all late on the action to stop the 'resident primate.

I don't think anything is really going to change much. Maybe if people take to the streets. Four dollar a gallon gasoline might be the necessary impetus. Sooner or later something has to give.


capt said...

Bush Admits to Destroying Blair's Career

I just caught some of the Bush/Blair news conference on the adult version of CNN at noon. At one point, a reporter asked Bush point blank if he was the cause of Tony Blair having to step down as prime minister. Now, when you get a question like that as a politician, surely you have a lot of options for answering. You could reply with a self-deprecating joke. Or you could insist that Blair is a statesman in his own right whose record stands on its own. Or something.

What you wouldn't want to do is to grant the premise of the reporter's question.

Bush, with his deer in the headlight gaze, actually answered the question.

In the affirmative.

BBC says:

' Appearing at a joint press conference at the White House, Mr Bush was asked if he was responsible for the end of Mr Blair's premiership.

He said: "I could be" 'Bush later became angry that a reporter was, as he put it, "dancing on Blair's political grave," insisting that he would work with Blair until he stepped down. I.e. until mid June! Why he was so angry with the reporter for jumping the gun a few weeks when he had just admitted that he may well have been the one who sent Blair to his political grave is not clear.

Blair deserved the whole sorry circus. He went on about the need to spread democracy and Western values among the benighted Middle Easterners. If he thinks that is what has happened in Iraq, he really is hopeless.

Blair always went on about how it would have been horrible if the UK had broken with Washington over Iraq. But France and Germany did, and nothing bad happened to them. Except that Paul Wolfowitz promised that they would pay.

As for Wolfowitz, Bush declined to support him as World Bank president any further and said he was sorry "it has come to this." And, I think Bush's admission today would be reason enough for any future PMs of the UK to think twice before signing on to Washington's foreign boondoggles.

So, anyway, since Bush admits he may have derailed the career of the longest serving Labour prime minister in decades, let's ask him something else.

Are you responsible, Mr. President, for sending the Middle East up in flames?


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

Is Bunnypants in meltdown mode?


David B. Benson said...

Chatham House says that Iraq has "many civil wars".

On BBC News...

capt said...

"Be Careful What You Say"

It’s a grim day for the Republic when John Ashcroft is the last line of defense of our liberties.

I didn’t know if I should barf or scream or set my hair on fire after watching former Deputy Attorney General James Comey describe how Bush’s Chief of Staff Andrew Card and his Tonto, Alberto Gonzales, tried to pry the Constitution from Ashcroft’s cold dying hand.

Imagine the scene: Attorney General Ashcroft in intensive care with the two White House enforcers attempting to get him to put his weakening John Hancock on a wiretap program so rancid with illegality even a right-wing pinhead on painkillers could tell it was a bullet hole in the Bill of Rights.

But now let’s get beyond the weird episode of ER-meets-Survivor. With Ashcroft resisting, the President did an end-run around the AG to authorize the whacky wiretap program.

Were they really worried about terrorists, the guys who terrorized Ashcroft?

The truth is, the power they sought was not for hunting al Qaeda; after all, wiretaps on Osama’s pen-pals have never been challenged.

The key here is the contract. The US Constitution prohibits the government spying on us. So they contracted it out. No-bid billions to ChoicePoint Inc. and other "data mining" outfits.

What won’t come out in the hearings is that this was just one tentacle of a program to create an American KGB, a system of mass snooping which, in the end, didn’t catch any bad guys — but will be very useful indeed in creating the purge lists that will ensure the re-election of the regime in 2008.

- Greg Palast


David B. Benson said...

Southern Ocean refusing to take up (much) more carbon dioxide.

This is a sure sign of big trouble coming...

David B. Benson said...

As I changed my prediction to:

Wolfie before Gonzo!

capt said...

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