Irangardy

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Ties to GOP trumped skill on Iraq team

Posted by alanmirs on September 17, 2006


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.

Many of those chosen by O’Beirne’s office to work for the Coalition
Provisional Authority, which ran Iraq’s government from April 2003 to
June 2004, lacked vital skills and experience. A 24-year-old who had
never worked in finance — but had applied for a White House job — was
sent to reopen Baghdad’s stock exchange. The daughter of a prominent
neoconservative commentator and a recent graduate from an evangelical
university for home-schooled children were tapped to manage Iraq’s $13
billion budget, even though they didn’t have a background in accounting.

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/16/AR2006091600193.html

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