Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Lawyering Up

While Alberto Gonzales appears more confident in his position now that President Bush has reiterated his confidence in the embattled Attorney General, World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz isn't quite so sure the President's confidence is going to be enough in his case. He's hired a lawyer. From today's NY Times:

Paul D. Wolfowitz, signaling anew that he will fight for his job as World Bank president, has enlisted a prominent lawyer who defended President Bill Clinton against accusations of sexual misconduct to help convince the bank’s board that Mr. Wolfowitz has done nothing to justify being ousted. ...

It was unclear whether Mr. Wolfowitz intended to pay his legal fees himself or whether he would seek reimbursement from the bank. His latest sign of apparent determination to keep his job came as the furor over his record continued to spread.

That "furor" has grown beyond Mr. Wolfowitz's alleged special treatment of his girlfriend, which at this point looks like nothing more than a symptom of Mr. Wolfowitz's casual misuse of his position. The article provides at least a partial laundry list of other problems he has caused.

Bank officials said that after several days of canvassing hundreds of employees, about 25 vice presidents of the bank were preparing to document that the overwhelming majority of the employees favor Mr. Wolfowitz’s departure. ...

The Financial Times reported on Monday that the independent agency within the bank that assesses the effectiveness of bank programs concluded last week that “swift changes in management” were needed to restore its credibility.

In addition, a group of more than 40 former top officials at the bank, many of whom departed after clashing with Mr. Wolfowitz, issued a public call for him to resign.

While I suppose an argument can be made that Mr. Wolfowitz was not a popular boss because he came in promising to clean house and to end corruption, that argument won't quite cover the other sins, such as this one:

In the last week or so, concern over two other issues — family planning and the environment — was spreading new rancor in the bank, contributing to the criticism.

Documents have surfaced indicating that one of Mr. Wolfowitz’s two top deputies, Juan J. Daboub, a managing director and former finance official in El Salvador, had deleted language referring to “family planning” and “climate change” in separate bank documents.

Some bank officials charge that these changes were made at the behest of the Bush administration. But they say that Mr. Wolfowitz and Mr. Daboub have denied during internal meetings that they intended to carry out any kind of policy change.
[Emphasis added]

Sound familiar?

Unlike the Department of Justice and the other agencies corrupted by the GOP agenda, the World Bank is not just an extension of the White House, no matter how much the administration intended to make it so. Mr. Wolfowitz was wise to hire a lawyer. It certainly looks like he needs one.