Hacks and GOP Loyalists Abounded in Rebuild-Iraq Effort
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.”
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.