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Ear to the Ground

Hacks and GOP Loyalists Abounded in Rebuild-Iraq Effort

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Posted on Sep 18, 2006

Loyalty to the Bush administration trumped qualifications and know-how among the people sent to rebuild postwar Iraq. Guess who screened the candidates? James O’Beirne, husband of the National Review’s Kate O’Beirne.

As Andrew Sullivan says, “so many pundits married to so many party officials - it gets hard to keep them straight at times.”

Washington Post:

After the fall of Saddam Hussein’s government in April 2003, the opportunity to participate in the U.S.-led effort to reconstruct Iraq attracted all manner of Americans—restless professionals, Arabic-speaking academics, development specialists and war-zone adventurers. But before they could go to Baghdad, they had to get past Jim O’Beirne’s office in the Pentagon.

To pass muster with O’Beirne, a political appointee who screens prospective political appointees for Defense Department posts, applicants didn’t need to be experts in the Middle East or in post-conflict reconstruction. What seemed most important was loyalty to the Bush administration.

O’Beirne’s staff posed blunt questions to some candidates about domestic politics: Did you vote for George W. Bush in 2000? Do you support the way the president is fighting the war on terror? Two people who sought jobs with the U.S. occupation authority said they were even asked their views on Roe v. Wade.

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By jonb, September 19, 2006 at 1:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’ve always considered it the heighth of hipocrisy of the Republicans to bring up cronyism or in the above case, nepotism as a reason to denegrate Democrats.

Isn’t that what the whole Joe Wilson/Valerie Plame story was really about as far as the Republicans? Wasn’t that what VP Cheney wrote on his copy of the NY Times op-ed by Wilson? The charge by the White House as Plame’s name began circulating to reporters was “Why was Wilson sent to Niger? Oh, it was his wife at the CIA.” Nepotism was their charge, inaccurate as it was due to the fact she wasn’t the actual person to approve of his trip.

But the fact remains that the Bush Administration and Republicans in general are masters at the art of cronyism and nepotism.

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By GL Leiser, September 18, 2006 at 9:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am a federal civil servant working for the AF. I am a highly trained Middle East specialist, PhD, fluency in Arabic and Turkish, years of experience in the region, widely published in scholarly journals on historical and cultural issues, with proper clearances, etc. Three years a go I received an e-mail from DOD saying that they had been combing their personnel files looking for expertise on Iraq and the Middle East and, in light of my background, would I be interested in helping with the “reconstruction” of Iraq. I replied, “Yes, in principal.” That was the last I heard from DOD, not even a negative reply, despite several follow up iquiries from me. Meanwhile, as the director of an air museum, I have been spending much of my time quite literally chasing birds from airplanes. I wonder if the Washington Post story helps explain this?

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