Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
April 16, 2007

Wolfowitz, CIA, Lebanon - Get the picture?

A diary by Converger at Daily Kos and a brief by Steve Clemons at The Washington Note tackle the mystery of the Foundation for the Future.

That is the place where Paul Wolfowitz's darling Shaha Riza currently works and earns nearly $200,000 a year tax-free World Bank money.

Let me add a bit to the public research on that mysterious foundation after the jump.

Before she came to the World Bank in 1997 Shaha Riza worked at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a Reagan legacy, which through intermediaries is funding democratic regime changes and US friendly foreign political parties. According to rightweb:

NED’s chairman is Vin Weber, who along with current NED board member Francis Fukuyama and former board members Paula Dobriansky and Paul Wolfowitz (both of whom joined the Bush II administration in 2001), signed the founding statement of the Project for the New American Century

Bill Berkowitz takes a longer historic look on the NED:

According to Blum, the NED funded "key components of [Col.] Oliver North's shadowy 'Project Democracy' network, which privatized U.S. foreign policy, waged war, ran arms and drugs and engaged in other equally charming activities. At one point in 1987, a White House spokesman stated that those at NED 'run Project Democracy.' This was an exaggeration; it would have been more correct to say that NED was the public arm of Project Democracy, while North ran the covert end of things. In any event, the statement caused much less of a stir than if--as in an earlier period--it had been revealed that it was the CIA which was behind such an unscrupulous operation."

Before(?) her relationship with Paul Wolfowitz, Shaha Riza was married to Bulent Aliriza. He is the Turkey expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

After being moved away from the World Bank Shaha Riza worked on democracy projects at the State Department under Liz Cheney.

In November 2005 Liz Cheney and Condi Rice were in Bahrain at the launch of the Foundation for the Future:

They arrived [in Jeddah] after attending the Forum of the Future in Bahrain, which saw the launch of two institutions. The first is the Fund of the Future worth $100 million set up to provide capital for small and medium businesses. The second is the Foundation of the Future worth $55 million to support NGOs and projects for promoting freedom of the press and democracy.

The Foundation for the Future was installed with some $35 million seed funds from the U.S. State Department, some $10 million from Bahrain and $11 million from various other state donors. As Clemons points out, the State Department in a recent press conference couldn't even say where the foundation has its office. It also was not sure what Shaha Riza was actually doing there. On the foundations website there is no mention of a current office and no phone number.

The domain is registered with this data:

Admin Name:BMENA Foundation for future
Admin Organization:BMENA Foundation for future
Admin Street1:1350 Connecticut Ave
Admin Street2:Suite 1000
Admin Street3:
Admin City:Washington
Admin State/Province:DC
Admin Postal Code:20036
Admin Country:US
Admin Phone:+1.2022347370
Admin Email:[email protected]

That address and suite is identical to the address of the Eurasia Foundation. That foundation has a project manager with the name Neil Stormer. Its phone number is (202) 234-7370.

The Eurasia Foundation's task is to support Democracy movements in former Soviet Union states. Its executive committee includes luminaries like Albright, Baker, Eagleburger and Frank C. Carlucci III of The Carlyle Group (Carlucci has been on the NED Board of Directors). It is financed by the United States Agency for International Development. USAID has been and probably is still used as a cover for CIA operations.

President of the Foundation for the Future is Bakhtiar Amin. He is an ex-pat Iraqi-Kurd who was promoting the danger of Saddam's non-existing weapons of mass destruction before the current war on Iraq. He became Minister of Human Rights in the Bremer/Allawi administration after the U.S. invasion. Allawi has worked with the CIA. Bakhtiar Amin's wife is Safia Taleb al-Suhail. She was a guest of Laura Bush at the State of the Union speech in February 2005.

The Foundation for the Future has spent no money so far on any grants - its supposed task - but has held three expensive executive board meetings.

While the Eurasia Foundation claims to have spent $360 million for democracy in former Soviet Union countries, the mission statement of the Foundation for the Future says:

The Foundation for the Future will support the people of the countries of the Middle East and North Africa in their efforts to advance and strengthen freedom and democratic trends and practices.

It is essentially the same task, but within a different region. Will we soon see a democratic Violet Revolution in Saudi Arabia or a Yellow one in Bahrain? I have my doubts there ...

The FAQ page says:

The Foundation is an independent, indigenous organization

How independent is it really when most of the original webpages of the foundation are still at the State Department website?

The FAQ also says:

The headquarters of the Foundation is being established in Beirut, Lebanon.

There I stumbled a bit. With a major donor being Bahrain, I would have expected Manama to be the central hub of the foundation's Middle East operation.

I wasn't the only one stumbling. In a comment to the D-Kos thread Billmon chipped in:

OK, now put this together with Sy Hersh's recent reporting on covert CIA support for anti-Hezbollah Sunni militia groups in Lebanon. Then go back and look a little more closely at the Iran-Contra scandal, and the use of nonprofit false front foundations both to steer money to the contras AND provide sinecures for various neocon hangers on.

Get the picture?

That's the thing about the neocons -- when they find something that doesn't work, they stick with it.

My first thought on reading that Billmon comment was that he is right, but wrong on the target country. My take was that this is not about Lebanon but Palestine with Hamas' election win demanding some democracy spending.

The Israeli occupation government initiated and of course backs U.S. plan to arm and train Abbas loyalists, but the U.S. congress initially blocked such funds. But now Congress has agreed to arm Abbas' forces against the election winning Hamas - spreading democracy with U.S. financed AK 47s I assume. So currently, there is no need for grey money there and Billmon has that point - the current target is Lebanon.

Ms. Shaha Riza, the CIA and their Foundation for the Future may now indeed go for a Hizbullah kill.

As Billmon says: It's not gonna work, but they will stick with it.

Posted by b on April 16, 2007 at 19:53 UTC | Permalink


Great post b, much appreciate your blog these days. Nice to see the barkeep alive and well.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Apr 16 2007 20:36 utc | 1

i second that. read converger's diary yesterday but did not stick with the comments long enough to see billmon's. thanks for taking it a step further.

Posted by: conchita | Apr 16 2007 20:41 utc | 2

Thank you very much for some context and background info. It's such a nice change of pace to most of the media's tabloid coverage of Paul and his girlfriend.

Posted by: | Apr 16 2007 20:50 utc | 3

More on NED: National Endowment for Democracy: Paying to Make Enemies of America

The misnamed National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is nothing more than a costly program that takes US taxpayer funds to promote favored politicians and political parties abroad. What the NED does in foreign countries, through its recipient organizations the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI), would be rightly illegal in the United States. The NED injects "soft money" into the domestic elections of foreign countries in favor of one party or the other. Imagine what a couple of hundred thousand dollars will do to assist a politician or political party in a relatively poor country abroad. It is particularly Orwellian to call US manipulation of foreign elections "promoting democracy." How would Americans feel if the Chinese arrived with millions of dollars to support certain candidates deemed friendly to China? Would this be viewed as a democratic development?

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Apr 16 2007 21:09 utc | 4

This is how you operate when you own the world, know what you want, and are right. Beyond a doubt, right.

Perhaps the most telling Dubya epigram on the conservative mindset ever bequeathed to mortals --

"I know what I believe. I will continue to articulate what I believe and what I believe - I believe what I believe is right."
(Rome, 7/22/2001)

He speaks for them all.

To breeze right past domestic and international law, to rig elections at home and abroad, to foment armed revolution and assassination wherever useful, to buy and manufacture opinion and consensus as if it were peanut butter you have to begin with the abiding faith that you are right in your thinking, and you are in charge.

In charge of other lives. In charge of how complete strangers live, right down to their prospects for economic activity, independence of thought and speech, and possession of their own nation and their own persons. Never mind what they profess or want. They are not right, and they are not in charge.

Who thinks this way?

Let's see -- most of the characters in Tom Clancy's novels, most of the world conquering characters in my son's Marvel Comics collection, most conservatives, most hard core fundies, Old School communists, fascists of every hue, and Republicans.

When in office, or any position of authority, they seek to rule instead of govern. All their talk of small government, low taxes, less regulation, clash of civilizations, shining city on a hill is just the press packets endlessly handed out.

What they do when no one is looking is seek to directly rule the world by divine fiat, forcing the rest of us to live in their comic book.

Posted by: Antifa | Apr 16 2007 22:08 utc | 5

"forcing the rest of us to live in their comic book." I think you mean live in their nightmare.

Posted by: Susan | Apr 17 2007 1:22 utc | 6

"That's the thing about the neocons -- when they find something that doesn't work, they stick with it."
What a flair for the right phrase our Billmon has.

Posted by: Dick Durata | Apr 17 2007 1:36 utc | 7

Eurasia Foundation has too high a profile for that job. They will, if they're sane, stick to getting a piece of the Lebanon reconstruction pie for US engineering firms. That will be tricky enough as it is, given that we incited the country's destruction. Gun-running would make that job harder still, at least at this early stage of destabilization, so someone else will have to handle that. A fake LLC would be better than a fake NGO. I don't doubt that Wolfowitz's squeeze is a spook, but nobody at the Foundation would know it except for maybe one upper-level guy. They have to provide some billets to keep the aid-agency contracts coming, that's all. I don't question the objective you posit - it's just loony enough for these fucking imbeciles - I just think it's not going to be run from there, and certainly not by her.

Posted by: psh | Apr 17 2007 1:57 utc | 8

been out of it - when did billmon reappear on the internet? Has he done anything except comments here and there?

Posted by: Rowan | Apr 17 2007 4:59 utc | 9

@rowan - I have only seen a few Billmon comments at D-Kos.

Very interesting ....

Unusual Trip to Iraq in ’03 for Wolfowitz Companion

The Defense Department directed a private contractor in 2003 to hire Shaha Ali Riza, a World Bank employee and the companion of Paul D. Wolfowitz, then the deputy secretary of defense, to spend a month studying issues related to setting up a new government in Iraq, the contractor said Monday.

The contractor, Science Applications International Corporation, or SAIC, said that it had been directed to hire Ms. Riza by the office of the under secretary for policy. The head of that office at the time was Douglas J. Feith, who reported to Mr. Wolfowitz.

After her trip to Iraq, Ms. Riza briefed members of the executive board of the World Bank on efforts to rebuild after the American invasion and specifically on the status of Iraqi women, according to Ms. Riza’s supervisor at the time.

Victoria Toensing, a lawyer representing Ms. Riza, said this evening that Ms. Riza went to Iraq as a volunteer and took a leave of absence from the World Bank, paying for her own benefits while she was on leave.
Mr. Feith, the former under secretary of defense, said he had no recollection of any request by his office to have Ms. Riza hired. The office of Mr. Wolfowitz said it had insufficient information to be able to comment on short notice.

Associates of Mr. Wolfowitz and Ms. Riza said they had been acquainted at least since the 1990s as a result of their joint interest in promoting democracy in the Middle East. Ms. Riza had served as a communications officer for the Middle East and North Africa at the World Bank until Mr. Wolfowitz arrived.
The spokesman said that Ms. Riza was “directed” by the office of the under secretary for policy to work for a unit known as the Iraq Governance Group, which was helping to set up a governing body in Iraq after the ouster of Saddam Hussein in 2003. The contract ran from April 25 to May 31, 2003, the spokesman said.
Ms. Riza’s trip raised concerns among some bank officials, who said they did not know under whose auspices she had traveled to Iraq at a time when it was against bank policy for its officials to go there.
Mr. Sarbib, who has retired from the bank, was Ms. Riza’s supervisor at the time. He said he “was not really privy to the arrangements” under which she went to Iraq. Upon her return, he said, she briefed members of the bank’s executive board and was “rather upbeat” about the country’s future, and the status of women.

“Coming from her, that had some credibility,” he said. Mr. Sarbib said some of the bank’s directors were “very concerned about why she was briefing the board, under which authority and with whom she had gone there.” “I did not know anything about this at the time, and I was the vice president, and she was reporting to me,” he said.

Ms. Toensing said that Ms. Riza was part of a State Department delegation to Iraq and that she was asked to brief World Bank officials by the bank’s president at the time, James Wolfensohn.

Posted by: b | Apr 17 2007 7:34 utc | 10

Duma Complains of U.S. Meddling

MOSCOW — The State Duma accused the United States on Friday of using non-governmental organizations to meddle in Russia’s domestic affairs and called for a federal inquiry into whether NGOs were spending foreign grants on political activities in an election season.

Duma deputies unanimously approved a resolution expressing concern over “growing and unprecedented attempts” by the United States to interfere in internal issues. “Under the guise of helping to conduct free and fair elections for the State Duma in December 2007 and for the president of the Russian Federation in March 2008, U.S. taxpayers’ money is being used to fund numerous training courses, surveys, seminars and other events that propagandize … and distort the situation,” the resolution said.

Posted by: b | Apr 17 2007 11:51 utc | 11

A few more notes to ponder:

The Foundation for the Future (which Ms. Riza is being paid so well to run) has made no grants (although it has been given $35 million from US funds and another $21 million from other countries). It has a posted Request for Applications (RFA) on its website, that says that the application forms are also on its website; they aren't. So no grants, no application forms. (Maybe they don't need application forms because they already know where the money is going to go.)

So where is this money going?

Well, let's see who the one and only listed staff person is on their website: Bakhtiar Amin. Mr. Amin is one of the Iraqis who supported the US invasion and was the Minister for Human Rights during the interim government (not now). He is also the person who said Abu Ghraib was looking much improved. So, exactly how much is the Foundation paying him? And for what?

And could this be the reason that Ms. Riza went there? To help steer some more millions in soft money to Iraqi war apologists and friends of the Bush Administration? That would explain why she and Mr. Wolfowitz would find this a worthwhile risk.

Just curious.



Posted by: bankskeptic | Apr 17 2007 21:17 utc | 12

bankskeptic, when transfered she worked under lynn cheney also, and if you recall lynn was heading up the iran dissident group.

Posted by: | Apr 17 2007 21:48 utc | 13

twas me

Posted by: annie | Apr 17 2007 21:50 utc | 14

Firedoglake poster Cinnamon Ape has found another clue: Shaha Riza used to work for Chalabi. See and look for Comment 178.

Posted by: bankskeptic | Apr 17 2007 23:13 utc | 15

Wolfie's Piggy Bank

Warned by the bank ethics committee he was to have no role in deciding Shaha's salary, Wolfie brushed the ethics rules aside.

He ordered Xavier Coll, bank vice president for human resources, to assign Riza to the State Department and raise her salary by some 50 percent, to $193,000 today, tax-free. She would take home more than Condi Rice. Coll was then directed to assure that Riza receive annual pay hikes of 8 percent and be put on a glide path to the highest position of any civil servant at the bank. By 2010, she would be making $245,000, tax-free.

And what has been Wolfowitz's big cause at the bank? Fighting corruption.

According to the Washington Post, Wolfowitz also had super-agent Robert Bennett negotiate a pay raise to $400,000 for him, equal to that of President Bush, only tax-free. He then brought over two Bush aides from the White House and installed them "in senior positions and rewarded them with open-ended contracts and quarter-million-dollar, tax-free salaries, despite their lack of development experience."

As this spilled out into the press, Wolfowitz, by week's end, was barely hanging on to his job. But Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and the West Wing were behind him. In the GOP of Jack Abramoff and Duke Cunningham, this doesn't qualify as sleaze.

Well, let Wolfie stay on as poster boy of Bush ethics, and let the nation decide whether they wish to continue with this crowd in 2008.

I made sure both of "my" Republicrat senators got a copy of this. Look at all those "tax-frees". There's a reference to Goldwater and Reagan and to their betrayal by this Neocon regime further on.

I make sure that "my" Republicrat senators know that I consider them the to be both the recipients of corrupt largess and the patrons of a corrupt machine.

I make sure that "my" Republicrat senators know that I consider them the AIPAC's representatives and not the represntatives of the Texans dying in Iraq for the unholy trio of Big Oil, Big War, and Big Israel.

I make sure that "my" Republicrat senators know that I consider them to be the Brownshirt Party. That the repeal of the US Constitution has taken place under their "stewardship".

The Demoplicans are hopeless. Their calculus says that the worse things get for American and Americans the better off the Demoplican Party is.

The Republicrats ought to stampedable, to be made to run scared to the levers of power and turn off the machine that is going to grind them to fine dust in another two years.

Posted by: John Francis Lee | Apr 18 2007 1:31 utc | 16

Working contract (pdf) for SAIC for Riza's trip to Iraq - she was accompanied by one Ahmab Dabous and by Owen Kirby.


Owen Kirby is currently Political Program Manager of the Office of the Middle EastPartnership Initiative (MEPI) in the Bureau of Near East Affairs, U.S. Department of State.

This D.C.-based position is responsible for the development of all MEPI political programs from Morocco to the Gulf. Current MEPI political programs include parliamentary strengthening, political party-building and candidate training, election monitoring and technical elections assistance, judicial strengthening and legal reform, and civil society support.

Prior to joining State in 2004, Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at the International Republican Institute (IRI) in Washington, D.C., implementing USAID, State and NED funded democracy support programs in the region.

SAIC gets a contract for work of someone who is at the World Bank and someone from the International Republican Institute?

Posted by: b | Apr 19 2007 4:56 utc | 17

"The Defense Department directed a private contractor in 2003 to hire Shaha Ali Riza, a World Bank employee and the companion of Paul D. Wolfowitz, then the deputy secretary of defense, to spend a month studying issues related to setting up a new government in Iraq, the contractor said Monday."

Hmmm, interesting....

"The current Iraq Dinar (IQD) was introduced between October 2003 and January 2004 by the Coalition Provisional Authority in close consultation with financial experts from Iraq and the international community. The IQD is currently valued at a little less than seven hundredths of a US cent. (1 USD = 1460 IQD). The old "Saddam" Dinar has no current value and is worth only what a collector is willing to pay for it."



Because US armed forced needed to render valueless all the funds that were not in their control.

This means that the World Bank was used in a war effort. I suppose they vigourously will try to deny that.

Keep up the good work!


Posted by: gorwell | Apr 19 2007 21:56 utc | 18

It should be checked if Shaha Riza draws financial compensation fron the Foundation for the Future. For the record, Mr. Riza is on the World Bank's payroll.

Posted by: Realistic Observer | May 5 2007 6:09 utc | 19

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