World Bank President and top neocon faces new claims, charges
by Kathleen Schalch
World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz's bid to keep his job is becoming increasingly difficult amid new allegations related to work his girlfriend, a bank employee, did for a private contractor as the United States was preparing to invade Iraq.
In March of 2003, when Wolfowitz was still deputy secretary of defense and an architect of the war against Iraq, and Riza worked for the World Bank, the Defense department was hiring private contractors to help plan for a post-war Iraq.
One of those contractors was Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC). SAIC officials say they were told by the Pentagon to hire Riza. She worked for them for a month and traveled to Iraq. The assignment may have violated conflict of interest rules at the World Bank employees.
But Riza's attorney Victoria Toensing says that Riza did nothing wrong. She adds that James Wolfensohn, who was then president of the World Bank, welcomed the trip, and even asked Riza to brief members of the bank's executive board.
Riza didn't profit from the work. In fact she lost money. SAIC confirms that Riza asked not to be paid, just reimbursed for her expenses.
Toensing says Riza took an unpaid leave of absence from the World Bank for the assignment, giving up more than $10,000 in salary and benefits.
But critics say this isn't just bureaucratic nit picking.