According to this New York Times article, Shaha Ali Riza, the squeeze of Paul Wolfowitz (now head of the world bank and an architect of our misery in Iraq), was involved in some questionable dealings herself concerning Iraq in 2003 (and this news comes on the heels of the following revelation, as noted in this Times of London story)…
Ms Riza has seen her salary rise by more than $60,000 since her move to the State Department, where she is still paid by the bank and earns more than the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.I mean, hey, I’m by no means Condi’s biggest fan, but how can some state department functionary earn more than the secretary of the department? But then again, that’s Bushco for you.
Anyway, back to 2003…
It seems that Riza, who had worked for the World Bank, was recruited by Wolfie in ’03 to take a job at the Defense Department, where Wolfie was still toiling under Rummy before the former bailed out for the World Bank himself. When she signed on at DoD, it was through the consulting firm SAIC, because, as we know, the federal government can’t do anything right and we must allow private contractors to run the show at all times (fine upstanding folks all, including Halliburton, as we know).
Why did our government want Riza? Well, as Times reporters Steven R. Weisman and David E. Sanger note…
It was not clear why the Pentagon specifically asked for Ms. Riza to travel to Iraq. At the time, however, the World Bank did not have a relationship with Iraq. Normal bank rules do not allow the bank to provide economic assistance to an area under military occupation.And Sarbib notes later in the story that he didn’t know anything about Riza’s trip.
Ms. Riza’s trip raised concerns among some bank officials, who said they did not know under whose auspices she had traveled to Iraq at a time when it was against bank policy for its officials to go there.
Bank officials said, however, that after the ouster of (Saddam) Hussein, the Bush administration tried to get the bank to help assist in the redevelopment of Iraq and that it was trying to involve the United Nations in the occupation to provide a rationale for the bank’s assistance.
“The bank was under a lot of pressure at the time to do something in Iraq very quickly,” said Jean-Louis Sarbib, a former vice president for the Middle East and North Africa at the bank. “Shaha went to Iraq, I believe, with a U.S. delegation to talk to civil society groups and, in particular, women.”
Gee, Wolfie and Dubya didn’t have to go to so much trouble to try and use Riza to get the U.N. to play a bigger role. All they had to do was allow the U.N. weapons inspectors to continue doing their jobs before the 2003 invasion instead of throwing them out. I’m sure the U.N. would have been just fine with that.
But of course, had they allowed them to stay and find nothing, then that would have removed Bushco’s original pretext for the pre-emptive war. And Wolfie and Dubya, among others, simply could not allow that, right?
Update 4/20/07: This is a neat related video from avaaz.org (hat tip to Atrios - and once again, the "thumbs up" sign in Iraq means "F.U." here).