Don't ever say the Bush administration doesn't take care of its own. Nearly three years after Paul Wolfowitz resigned as deputy Defense secretary and six months after his stormy departure as president of the World Bank—amid allegations that he improperly awarded a raise to his girlfriend—he's in line to return to public service. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has offered Wolfowitz, a prime architect of the Iraq War, a position as chairman of the International Security Advisory Board, a prestigious State Department panel, according to two department sources who declined to be identified discussing personnel matters. The 18-member panel, which has access to highly classified intelligence, advises Rice on disarmament, nuclear proliferation, WMD issues and other matters. "We think he is well suited and will do an excellent job," said one senior official.
Wolfowitz, now a visiting scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, will replace former senator Fred Thompson, who quit over the summer to run for president. Although officials declined to say how Rice came to choose him, Wolfowitz began his government career in the 1970s in the State Department as an arms-control expert; he forged a relationship with Rice during the 2000 presidential campaign, when they both served as top foreign-policy advisers to the then candidate Bush. But his selection has raised more than a few eyebrows within State because he'll be providing advice on some of the same issues that critics say the administration got spectacularly wrong when Wolfowitz was pushing the case for the Iraq War at the Pentagon. (One of the department sources called the appointment "amazing.") At least Wolfowitz, who did not return calls seeking comment, will have like-minded company: other panel members include Robert Joseph, the former National Security Council official in charge of Iraq WMD intelligence, and ex-CIA director James Woolsey, both strong allies during the Iraq debate.
The sources said Wolfowitz has already accepted Rice's offer to fill the part-time position, though it won't be announced until the completion of a standard check for conflicts of interest. But he won't have to worry about any complaints from pesky Democrats. The position doesn't require Senate confirmation.