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Where the Money Is

By Al Kamen
Wednesday, March 28, 2007

There's some disgruntlement amongst the grossly overpaid World Bank crowd as the time approaches for calculating annual salary increases for 2007. Seems they're finding out that Shaha Riza, who's been romantically linked to bank President Paul Wolfowitz, has done exceptionally well in terms of salary in the last 18 months -- and she doesn't even work there.

Riza, a British citizen who was born in Tunisia and raised in Saudi Arabia, worked as a communications adviser in the bank's Middle East and North Africa department before she was detailed to work in Karen Hughes's public diplomacy shop at the State Department in September 2005 -- while remaining on the bank's payroll.

She left six months after Wolfowitz took over at the bank.

Just before leaving, she was promoted to a managerial-level job, which we're told is somewhat rare. Bank records obtained by the Government Accountability Project indicate that, before Riza's promotion, she was earning $132,660.

Under bank rules -- remember, she is still on its payroll even at State -- the highest raise she should have gotten in her new job would be about $20,000, according to GAP's calculation. Instead, she got a $47,340 raise, which put her salary at $180,000.

This fiscal year, while still at State, Riza got a raise of $13,500, bringing her up to $193,590, which is $7,000 more than Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice makes. Since she is at State and not the bank, the bank's staff rules should have allowed only about half that, GAP said. Even if she'd been at the bank and gotten the highest performance rating compared with other bank employees, she could not have gotten that big a raise, GAP said.

So we asked Wolfowitz spokesman Kevin Kellems who's responsible for these whopping raises.

"All arrangements concerning Shaha Riza were made at the direction of the bank's board of directors," Kellems said.

Well, maybe the directors felt guilty because they made her leave the building after Wolfowitz took over?

Thanks, I've Already Met Your Boss

Speaking of the bank, Marwan Muasher, a former foreign minister, deputy prime minister and chief of staff to King Abdullah of Jordan, last week settled in to his new job there as senior vice president for external affairs.

Muasher, acting through a real estate agent, also bought a lovely home in Northwest Washington. (Quick Loop Quiz! So now, a top employee of a key Iraq war architect is living in the home he just bought from . . .? Ah, you guessed it. Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame, of course.)

Speaking of the Bushes

The Brothers Bush are having a rocky time these days dealing with the college crowd. Brother Jeb, former governor of Florida, just found out the University of Florida had decided he will not be receiving an honorary degree.

Then Brother W, the current president of the United States, sparked a fuss when he accepted an invitation to speak May 11 at ceremonies at Saint Vincent College, a Benedictine liberal arts school in the Pennsylvania congressional district of an ardent opponent of the Iraq war, Rep. John P. Murtha (D). Turns out Murtha, commencement speaker in 1983, is the second cousin of former Saint Vincent president John F. Murtha, who headed the school from 1985 to 1995. Jim Towey, who ran the Bush White House office of faith-based initiatives, is now the college's president.

Towey anticipated the uproar in his announcement Monday of Bush's visit, saying it has sparked a "lively and welcome discussion." But "let me stress that our invitation to President Bush, like past invitations to other speakers for Saint Vincent commencements and other events on campus, is not an endorsement of his policies or politics." He noted that past invitees, in addition to Murtha, have included former House speaker Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill and William F. Buckley Jr.

He's meeting with the senior class tonight, and there will be an "open mike" town hall meeting on April 17 for all 1,600 students to opine.

Meanwhile, the faculty voted 41 to 30 to uphold the invitation. An online petition is circulating that's gathered 140 or so names -- including one Ron MacDonald, who is not a student -- telling Bush that "linking the school to your administration would irreparably tarnish Saint Vincent."

Dead, but Still Dangerous

The Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control -- which tries to grab the ill-gotten gains of drug dealers, terrorists, dictators and such -- has a "watch list" of "Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons."

The list has nearly 3,500 names of people and organizations we should be on the lookout for, including one Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti, who was arrested in December 2003 and executed last Dec. 30. His sociopath sons, Uday and Qusay, killed in July 2003, along with just about everyone from Tikrit, are on the list.

The Post asked Treasury why we should still watch out for the late Saddam.

"Individuals are not pulled off the list because they can still have assets in their name after death," a spokeswoman explained. (Oddly enough, Cuba's Fidel Castro is not on the list, although lots of Cuban operations are.) So next time you happen to see Saddam driving a Brink's truck on the Beltway, get help!

Now, About That Pardon . . .

Former vice president Al Gore recently testified on the Hill about global warming, a subject about which he is well versed. Now Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) would like former president Bill Clinton to be at the House Judiciary Committee's hearing tomorrow on "the Appropriate Use of the Presidential Pardoning Power."

"Former President Clinton is no stranger to controversial pardons, most notably the pardon of Marc Rich on his last day in office," Smith said in a press release. The fugitive financier's wife donated $450,000 to the Clinton library. "I can think of no better person to address this issue."

Yesterday afternoon, however, Clinton's office called Smith's to say that Clinton won't make it because he will not be in Washington that day. A pity.

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