Friday, September 29, 2006

Killer Cronyism III: 1000's of American soldiers killed by bungling GOP loyalists in Iraq Hotlist

Georgia10 already had a front pager on the basics of this explosive Book Excerpt from the Washington Post  but with all due respect to her , I want to place this in larger frame as it's part and parcel of a much larger pattern.

For those who may have missed it the basics of this story are simple.  Thousand of  Middle east experts, academics and adventurers applied to the government to be part of the Iraqi reconstruction:

 ...but before they could go to Baghdad, they had to get past Jim O'Beirne's office in the Pentagon.  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:.. Two  said they were even asked their views on Roe v. Wade


In other words, Bushbots got hired, regardless of expertise or experience and everyone else had to stay home.  Not surprisingly these people made a total hash of the job and got a lot of people killed as a result.   Nor is this  the first time this has happened:

When I read this story something about it seemed depressingly familiar, and then I remembered :  Oh yeah this reminds of nearly every other colossal failure the Administration has had since taking office.  At the center of each of them seems to be someone who got a job based on their beliefs not their competence who then fails, spectacularly to DO the job for which they were hired

Let's see if we notice a pattern developing:

A)During Katrina, the complete failure of FEMA's evacuation efforts can be directly tied to a $100 million dollar Emergency Evacuation Services Contract given to Landstar Express, whose Chairman was diehard Bush loyalist and President of the US Chamber of Commerce.  

  Unfortunately, Landstar had neither experience nor equipment to perform such a contract, so when their services were needed they were reduced to googling travel agents to subcontract the job to 24 hours after Katrina hit.  (meanwhile Greyhound, Trailways were standing by, offering their services gratis but couldn't get a call back from anyone at FEMA)  (BTW Landstar got a new $400 Million dollar contract as reward for their Katrina efforts)

B) After the Sago Mine disaster, it was revealed that MSHA, the Mine Safety and Health Administration was being run by a former Coal industry lobbyist, who immediately gutted the safety enforcement division, altered the findings of several current investigations to be more industry friendly, installed his own tame investigators and tried to run off any remaining honest MSHA employees. Is it a  shock therefore that three years later deadly conditions are found to exist at mines all over the country (and the killer mine had 250 citations in 2005 alone, but all resolved with a slap on the wrist)?

But bad as both of those examples are (and the Katrina evacuation fiasco's death toll may have been over 1,000) they pale in comparison to this latest revelation.    It's no exaggeration to lay the deaths of 10's of thousands of Iraqis, and the majority of Coalition casualties at the feet of the CPA's incompetent reconstruction efforts:

Many of the basic tasks Americans struggle to accomplish today in Iraq -- training the army, vetting the police, increasing electricity generation -- could have been performed far more effectively in 2003 by the CPA....

the CPA was the U.S. government's first and best hope to resuscitate Iraq -- to establish order, promote rebuilding and assemble a viable government, all of which, experts believe, would have constricted the insurgency and mitigated the chances of civil war

So why did they fail so badly?

well lets see if the article gives us a few minor clues:

Many of those selected because of their political fidelity spent their time trying to impose a conservative agenda on the postwar occupation that sidetracked more important reconstruction efforts and squandered goodwill among the Iraqi people,

In other words the CPA turned out to b run largely by a Bunch of conservative ideologues trying to implement Grover Norquist's version of Utopia rather than doing their jobs and helping the Iraqis?   Hmm I wonder how THAT could have happened:


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.

 "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  was 'uncertain.' I.. advisory positions in Baghdad that were instead handed to prominent RNC [Republican National Committee] contributors."

Well, that'll do it, especially when those "standards" resulted in hiring decisions like these:

 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 { Patrick Henry College- Ed. }  were tapped to manage Iraq's $13 billion budget, even though they didn't have a background in accounting.

and of these two who would YOU have put in charge of the Health care system for 50 million people in a war-torn country?

James K. Haveman,Jr. a 60-year-old social worker...had been the community health director for the former Republican governor of Michigan, John Engle, {and} a  director of International Aid, a faith-based relief organization that provided health care while promoting Christianity in the developing world. Before his stint in government, Haveman ran a large Christian adoption agency in Michigan that urged pregnant women not to have abortions.


Frederick M. Burkle Jr., a physician with a master's degree in public health and postgraduate degrees from Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth and the University of California at Berkeley. Burkle taught at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, where he specialized in disaster-response issues, and he was a deputy assistant administrator at the U.S. Agency for International Development, He had worked in Kosovo and Somalia and in northern Iraq after the 1991 Persian Gulf War. A USAID colleague called him the "single most talented and experienced post-conflict health specialist working for the United States government."

Any Guesses who replaced Whom after O'Beirne took over?  Any guesses how that worked out for the Iraqis?

  But the Title of this article was "Killer Cronyism", not "incompetent Elephants on parade".  Thus I promised you blood and blood you shall have.

So why is this "killer" cronyism?  Well Let me say it plainly J'acuse The CPA of the Murder of all the Soldiers who have died in roadside bombings and insurgent attacks, all the innocent Iraqi's caught in the Sunni-Shi'a Civil war, and all the victims of Zarqawi's suicide bombers.

Why?  Because if they'd done their job even half competently, most of the troubles we've faced would be non-existent by now.  If  street-level security were better, people like Zarqawi wouldn't  be able to operate at will.   If more progress had been made in restoring the economy prominent Sunni and Shiite leaders might be convinced that there is more profit to be had in helping run the country than to divide it's bones, and most importantly the Insurgency would have by now run out of recruits.

 People who are in a comfortable middle class rarely rise up in the streets to attack their "oppressors".  Mob action occurs far more often among the hopeless, destitute, and dispossessed, in other words those who have nothing to lose.Read this secret cable sent form the US ambassador in Iraq last May.   And ask yourselves whether the average Iraq has much left to lose at this point.  In fact, thing are SO bad, says the Cable  most  Iraqis refuse to believe that the Americans could be so incompetent at reconstruction as they appear to be.  

Therefore, they've concluded that Americans are deliberately withholding electricity supplies and running water for city neighborhoods as a form of collective punishment(just like Saddam used to do).  Isn't that anger and suspicion precisely the thing that will gaurantee the loss of "heart and minds" to the US  and drive people in to the arms of the insurgents?  Ya, you betcha.  

Now ask yourself what a COMPETENT group of Planners and specialists could have done with that same $19 Billion.  How many less Insurgents would there be in THAT Iraq as opposed to the one we have now,  how many less Iraqis and Soldiers would die every day?

Thus As I said before J'accuse the Bush Adminstration of turning another vital compnenet of governance over to ideologue and Kleptocrats who turned the most important mission of his presidency into yet another Patronage piggy bank, to be split among the loyalists.  And therefore it is not unfair to lay at thier feet the lives of all those Iraqis and Americans who have paid in blood for the consequences of their malevolence and incomptence.


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