No Comment — May 28, 2007, 11:57 am

Wolfowitz’s Tomb

Sidney Blumenthal offers a fascinating take on the rise and fall of Paul Wolfowitz in Salon. It also offers what is, as best I can see, the first appearance in the U.S. media of the story of how Wolfowitz finally got his appointment as Rumsfeld’s deputy, after initially making a major pitch to head the CIA. This is a story which has been common cocktail party chatter in Washington for many years, which has appeared in European media repeatedly, but which American papers evidently figured was off-limits (unlike, of course, speculation about the sexual pecadillos of the Clintons, which in the view of MSM is always appropriate and demands placement on the front page):

Wolfowitz thought that he ought to be director of the CIA. But as soon as he advanced himself, his estranged wife, Clare, wrote a private letter to President-elect Bush saying that he could not be trusted. This embittered letter remained a closely guarded secret, although a former high official of the CIA told me about it. Chris Nelson also reported it on April 16 in his widely respected, nonpartisan foreign policy newsletter: “A certain Ms. Riza was even then Wolfowitz’s true love. The problem for the CIA wasn’t just that she was a foreign national, although that was and is today an issue for anyone interested in CIA employment. The problem was that Wolfowitz was married to someone else, and that someone was really angry about it, and she found a way to bring her complaint directly to the President. So when we, with our characteristic innocence, put Wolfowitz on our short-list for CIA, we were instantly told, by a very, very, very senior Republican foreign policy operative, ‘I don’t think so.’ It was then gently explained why, purely on background, of course. Why Wolfowitz’s personal issues weren’t also a disqualification for DOD we’ve never heard.” The Daily Mail of London also reported on his wife’s letter at the time that Wolfowitz was appointed president of the World Bank in 2005. Asked about it by the newspaper, Clare Wolfowitz did not deny it, saying, “That’s very interesting but not something I can tell you about.”

This is the tip of an iceberg, I suspect. If you were around Johns Hopkins while Wolfowitz ran its prestigious School of Advanced International Studies, you know there were similar Wolfowitz tales around every corner, invariably revealing a rakish inner Wolfowitz with an uncontrolled libido. In the end perhaps it was his undoing.

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Nobody in academia had ever witnessed or even heard of a performance like this before. In just a few years, in the early 1950s, a University of Pennsylvania graduate student — a student, in his twenties — had taken over an entire field of study, linguistics, and stood it on its head and hardened it from a spongy so-called “social science” into a real science, a hard science, and put his name on it: Noam Chomsky.

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