Saturday, September 16, 2006

Contempt For Competence


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 they needed to be was a member of the Republican Party.

O'Beirne's staff posed blunt questions 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.

More...much the link. Like this nugget:

To recruit the people he wanted, O'Beirne sought résumés from the offices of Republican congressmen, conservative think tanks and GOP activists. He discarded applications from those his staff deemed ideologically suspect, even if the applicants possessed Arabic language skills or postwar rebuilding experience.

And this:

CPA staff members weren't worried about employment prospects after Baghdad. "Oh, I'll just work on the campaign" -- the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign -- several said.

"I'm not here for the Iraqis," one worker noted over lunch. "I'm here for George Bush."

The Katrina debacle was not an isolated incident. Both that humanitarian disaster and the current mess in Iraq are a direct result of not just incompetence, but actual contempt for competence by this Administration. "Who cares if you know how to do the job? The important thing is that you think right thoughts. Tell me your position on abortion."


Brett Battles said...

- noun, plural -nies.

1. arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power; despotic abuse of authority. Unabridged (v 1.0.1)

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