Safavian ‘probably not’ qualified

SAFAVIAN ‘PROBABLY NOT’ QUALIFIED….In terms of the criminal trial, it’s important that David Safavian, the Bush administration’s former top procurement official, acknowledged yesterday that he provided “a lot of insight and advice,” including government information not available to the public, to Jack Abramoff. Since Safavian was arrested last September for doing secret favors for Abramoff, his former employer, it was a key admission.

But for political purposes, I think this development was even more entertaining.

Safavian conceded to Justice prosecutor Peter Zeidenberg that he most likely didn’t believe he had the qualifications to be chief of staff at the Government Services Administration, the position he held when he had the dealings with Jack Abramoff he is accused of covering up.

“Did you think you were qualified for the job?” Zeidenberg asked.

“Probably not, actually,” Safavian said.

What a helpful admission. In fact, I can think of dozens of top administration officials who might have similar responses to the same question.

For example, I’d love to hear the response to the “Did you think you were qualified for the job?” question from former Small Business Administration head Hector Barreto, a former Republican fundraiser who had no experience or relevant qualifications. Or maybe his replacement, Steven Preston, who has the same problem.

For that matter, why don’t we also pose the same question to Stewart Simonson, the Health and Human Services Department’s point man “on matters related to bioterrorism and other public health emergencies,” despite a complete lack of experience in the fields of public health and/or national security. And how about Douglas Hoelscher, who went from being a low-level White House staffer, arranging presidential travel, to a top post in the Department of Homeland Security despite no experience at all?

We could also ask Ellen Sauerbrey, who Bush appointed to be Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration, despite having literally no background in setting up refugee camps, delivering emergency supplies, and/or mobilizing international responses to humanitarian crises. We could then ask Julie Myers, who Bush named to help lead the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, despite the fact that she has no management experience at any level.

This list just never seems to end. Safavian’s admission was helpful, but we’d probably get the same response out of most of the administration’s political appointees. There might as well be a “No Policy Experts Need Apply” sign hanging in the West Wing.