Sunday, September 17, 2006


Iraq Reconstruction Money: Republicans Only

And more: no surprises here—Iraq was a conquest for the benefit of Bush’s and Cheney’s big contributors, more looting of the public purse. The hubris involved in the way this administration has handed out our money is unbelievable. It isn’t a Greek tragedy: it’s vaudeville, or a Carl Hiaasen novel.

I’d say “How dare these people be so arrogant?” but I don’t think there’s any use. The public is so used to graft and corruption—and eager to get a piece of the action as well—the only time anyone seems to care is when they feel deserving of a contract or two. Nothing about morality.

Sunday, September 17, 2006 - 12:00 AM

GOP loyalty dictated who would rebuild Iraq

By Rajiv Chandrasekaran
The 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 professionals, Arabic-speaking academics, development specialists and war-zone adventurers. But they had to get past Jim O'Beirne's Pentagon office before going to Baghdad.

To pass muster with O'Beirne, a political appointee, applicants didn't need to be experts in the Middle East or in postconflict reconstruction. They did need, however, to be 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 said they were even asked their views on Roe v. Wade.

Many of those chosen to work for the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), which ran Iraq's government from April 2003 to June 2004, lacked vital skills and experience. A 24-year-old who never had worked in finance 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 had no accounting background.

The decision to send the loyal and the willing instead of the best and the brightest now is regarded by many people involved in the 3 ½-year effort to stabilize and rebuild Iraq as one of the Bush administration's gravest errors. Many selected because of their political fidelity spent their time trying to impose a conservative agenda on the postwar occupation that sidetracked more important efforts and squandered good will among Iraqis.

About the report

This account was adapted from the book "Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside the Green Zone," by former Washington Post Baghdad bureau chief and now assistant managing editor Rajiv Chandrasekaran.

One former CPA employee who had an office near O'Beirne's wrote an e-mail to a friend describing the recruitment process: "I watched résumés of immensely talented individuals who had sought out CPA to help the country thrown in the trash because their adherence to 'the President's vision for Iraq' [a frequently heard phrase at CPA] was 'uncertain.' I saw senior civil servants from agencies like Treasury, Energy ... and Commerce denied advisory positions in Baghdad that were instead handed to prominent RNC [Republican National Committee] contributors."


The hiring of Bremer's most senior advisers was settled upon at the highest levels of the White House and the Pentagon. Some, like Foley, were personally recruited by Bush.

Others received jobs because an influential Republican made a call.***

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