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What Will the Neighbors Say? Wolfowitz Romance Stirs Gossip

By Richard Leiby
Tuesday, March 22, 2005; Page C03

Social Washington has been buzzing for months about the discreet romance between Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Shaha Riza, an Arab feminist and a communications adviser at the World Bank. Now that he's been nominated to head the bank and their relationship has become public, some of Riza's neighbors have become irked enough to dish.

This being Washington, there's a political undercurrent to the gossip: Turns out that some Iraq war foes in the diplomat-heavy neighborhood south of American University don't seem to appreciate that Wolfowitz regularly spends the night at Riza's home. Two residents told us that Wolfowitz's guards wait in a car outside until he departs early in the morning.

Paul Wolfowitz and Shaha Riza are the talk of the neighborhood. (Yuri Gripas - Reuters, World Bank Photo)

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"They kind of picked the wrong place, if they want to be private about it. I don't know if it could be more public if it were on 16th and K streets," said one neighbor, who declined to be identified, citing a desire to maintain cordial relations with Riza. "It's an international neighborhood and he's the icon for a fabulously expensive, tragic war. It's the one thing we talk about now."

There's also been annoyance in the quiet enclave over the attention drawn by his round-the-clock security detail and visits by other top officials to Riza's house. "They do a lot of entertaining," our source said.

As a rule, the Defense Department does not comment on the protection assigned to higher-ups, but one knowledgeable official, who declined to be identified because security procedures are involved, told us yesterday that Wolfowitz is assigned 24-hour protection everywhere he goes -- including his own home -- because he is a target of threats.

Wolfowitz, 61, and Riza, who's said to be in her mid-fifties, are both divorced. They have declined to publicly discuss their relationship but share a desire to democratize the Middle East. Riza, an Oxford-educated British citizen, was born in Tunisia and grew up in Saudi Arabia. She's known for her expertise on women's rights and has been listed on the bank's Web site as a media contact for Iraq reconstruction issues.

Acquaintances say Riza and Wolfowitz have been a couple for nearly two years. But don't expect to see them out and about: They confine their appearances to functions in private homes.

Alan Greenspan's Presidential Point Spread

• The new GQ magazine features a nearly naked, blond young actress named Jessica Alba on its cover, but that wasn't the reason Washingtonians were hot to get their hands on a copy yesterday. Nope, the chatter was about an article on the inscrutable Fed chairman, Alan Greenspan. His morning bathing rituals are detailed therein -- he likes to write speeches in the tub -- but the really eye-catching material comes from a secondhand Greenspan quote offered by his friend of 50 years, Charles Brunie.

In an interview with GQ writer Wil Hylton, Brunie recounts a dinner conversation with Milton Friedman and Greenspan. Says Brunie: "I asked the two geniuses, 'Of all the politicians you have known, how would you rank their intellectual ability?' And Milton said, 'Well, on a Bo Derek scale . . . Nixon was a nine, and Reagan's a seven -- ' and Alan interrupted, 'No, no, Milton. Reagan's not a seven. He's a four!' Milton said, 'Alan, what do you mean by four?' Alan said, 'Well, Gerry Ford's a four.' And Milton said, 'I don't know what that means.' And Alan said, 'Well, if you gave Gerry Ford a series of data, no matter what the series was, he could not develop a concept. And Reagan is the same.' ''

But we have a bigger question: Where does Jessica Alba rank on the Bo Derek scale?


Chelsea Clinton will share the spotlight with Mikhail Baryshnikov at an April 12 gala celebrating the Washington School of Ballet's 60th anniversary. She's hosting the event at the Kennedy Center, where the famed dancer will be honored.

• We hear that Lynn Redgrave and daughter Annabel Clark stopped by the International Spy Museum yesterday afternoon for a quick tour. They were in town to give a lecture last night for 200 people at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, talking about Redgrave's acting career as well as their recent book: "Journal: A Mother and Daughter's Recovery From Breast Cancer."

Sharon Bush, ex-wife of presidential brother Neil Bush, has settled a slander suit accusing her of spreading rumors that Bush fathered a child with his mistress, who is now his wife, Maria Andrews Bush. DNA testing last year showed that Neil Bush did not father the boy, then 3; he is the son of Robert Andrews, Maria's husband at the time and the plaintiff in the $950,000 suit. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

With Anne Schroeder

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