Why was Riza sent to Iraq?

As Christine blogged yesterday, the Wolfowitz pay scandal has inspired a number of defenders to argue that the whole thing is blown out of proportion—part of a plot by Wolfowitz’s detractors to pressure him into resigning. I think it’s unfortunate that Shaha Ali Riza, Wolfowitz’s longtime partner, had to interrupt her World Bank career. (Bank ...

602497_070404_riza_05.jpg
602497_070404_riza_05.jpg

As Christine blogged yesterday, the Wolfowitz pay scandal has inspired a number of defenders to argue that the whole thing is blown out of proportion—part of a plot by Wolfowitz's detractors to pressure him into resigning. I think it's unfortunate that Shaha Ali Riza, Wolfowitz's longtime partner, had to interrupt her World Bank career. (Bank rules specified that his position as president constituted a conflict of interest as her boss.)

But I think it's more than fair to ask why she was compensated so disproportionately for the inconvenience. It's irrelevant (but interesting) that she makes more than Condi or doesn't pay taxes. What's important is that just because she was short-listed for a promotion at the time of her departure, she was essentially given that promoted pay grade and more. 

And it's very interesting to learn that in 2003, when Riza was working at the Bank, the Defense Department directed a private contractor to send Riza on a month-long fact-finding trip to Iraq:

As Christine blogged yesterday, the Wolfowitz pay scandal has inspired a number of defenders to argue that the whole thing is blown out of proportion—part of a plot by Wolfowitz’s detractors to pressure him into resigning. I think it’s unfortunate that Shaha Ali Riza, Wolfowitz’s longtime partner, had to interrupt her World Bank career. (Bank rules specified that his position as president constituted a conflict of interest as her boss.)

But I think it’s more than fair to ask why she was compensated so disproportionately for the inconvenience. It’s irrelevant (but interesting) that she makes more than Condi or doesn’t pay taxes. What’s important is that just because she was short-listed for a promotion at the time of her departure, she was essentially given that promoted pay grade and more. 

And it’s very interesting to learn that in 2003, when Riza was working at the Bank, the Defense Department directed a private contractor to send Riza on a month-long fact-finding trip to Iraq:

The contractor, Science Applications International Corporation, or SAIC, said that it had been directed to hire Ms. Riza by the office of the under secretary for policy. The head of that office at the time was Douglas J. Feith, who reported to Mr. Wolfowitz.

At that time, Wolfowitz was deputy secretary of defense. The World Bank had no relationship with Iraq because rules forbid it to loan money to a country under military occupation. Riza is a Middle East expert, and I have no doubt she was qualified to go. But why her? Was she paid for the trip? Did Wolfowitz personally choose her for the trip? Perhaps there was nothing improper going on, but I think these are fair questions to ask.

Carolyn O'Hara is a senior editor at Foreign Policy.

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