Thursday, April 19

:: Get Back Under Your Rock, Goddammit!

Update: Yesterday Wolfie blew off a meeting with the WB board, and the WB board decided to start an "urgent" investigation into whether the WB should blow off Wolfie, with a decision expected the week of 23 April.

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This is the latest on the World Bank's "other" scandal - no, not the girlfriend one... this is the one I wrote about here. But just to recap: one of Wolfie's deputies, a likely Opus Dei minion, oversaw a revision of the Bank's country strategy paper for Madagascar that removed the references to family planning, contraception, etc. Activists kicked up a fuss, European government ministers got chuffed, and now we hear from said deputy (Juan Jose Daboub) that it was all a misunderstanding... this is from a leaked internal WB memo written by Daboub:

“Regarding the Madagascar CAS, none of the editorial changes that were made at my direction changed, or intended to change, the Bank Group's program in the area of family planning. These changes were simply intended to clarify what I understood to be the Bank's role in this area, given the roles of other donors… I am here to carry out professionally and faithfully the Bank's policies. The policy on Reproductive Health is clear, had been endorsed by the Board and in place for many years; it has been followed by the President, the Staff and me, as reflected in projects and programs brought and to be brought to the Board. We understand and respect our partner countries' decision on this subject.”
Oddly, Daboub's statement contradicts real life, at least according to WB staff and a Government Accountability Project investigation. As reported by the LA Times:
Yet internal e-mails obtained by the Government Accountability Project appear to indicate otherwise. Referring to Daboub as the "MD," an acronym for his title as managing director, Madagascar country programcoordinator Lilia Burunciuc wrote to colleagues on March 8, 2007: "One of the requests received from the MD was to take out all references to family planning. We did that."Burunciuc added that this is "a potential problem for us" because Madagascar had made a "strong request for help" on family planning in the document, which serves as a three-to four-year plan for the goals a country wants to achieve with the bank's help. Madagascar identified improved family planning as one of its national commitments.

Yet a copy of the report includes edits and deletions, which a bank staffer said were made by Daboub's office, showing that specific targets to boost contraceptive use were cut and broader aims were rewritten. In one graphic, the words "improved quality of health services to ensure easy access, affordability and reliability" were inserted in place of "improved access and provision of contraceptives."

For a good analysis of how this situation reflects on Wolfie, read this op-ed by the Guardian’s Sara Bosley. Sample:
If [Daboub's] conscience prevented him from carrying out bank policy, he should quit. If he does not quit, he should be sacked... What this episode suggests is chaotic management. How could Mr Daboub unilaterally change the bank's reproductive health policies? Perhaps because his boss is not concentrating. The answer, surely, is for the pair of them to pack their bags.
Wolfie’s situation has only gotten more precarious, and his resignation is expected as soon as today. The main scandal – or the only scandal, in the world according to WaPo – has only gotten worse. More from the Guardian:
In recent days evidence has emerged that a contractor for the US government working in Iraq said in 2003 that it was ordered to hire Ms Riza as a consultant on governance issues. The order was issued by Douglas Feith, then undersecretary of defence. Mr Wolfowitz was deputy secretary at the Pentagon at the time, and Mr Feith's boss.
Apparently, outside of the Bush administration, people are held accountable for their misdeeds and mistakes. Of course, if that were Bush administration policy, the only people left in the White House would be the blue and pink collar workers.

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