O’BEIRNE STILL CAUSING TROUBLE AT THE PENTAGON…. In many respects, Jim O’Beirne helps represent most of what was wrong with the Bush administration.
After U.S. forces had successfully removed Saddam Hussein’s regime, it was O’Beirne’s office in the Pentagon that screened applicants for positions in Iraq. Instead of judging people on their regional expertise or background in post-conflict reconstruction, O’Beirne wanted to know about applicants’ politics: did they vote for Bush?
Those with Arabic language skills and/or postwar rebuilding experience were rejected if O’Beirne found their partisan loyalties suspect. The result was a series of unqualified GOP activists in key government posts, screwing up reconstruction efforts.
More than five years later, O’Beirne is still in the Pentagon, and is still causing trouble.
Two weeks ago, Barack Obama’s transition team informed 90 Bush appointees at the Pentagon that they would be replaced after the inauguration. O’Beirne then proceeded to contact those appointees directly, accusing the Obama aides of — get this — playing politics with employment decisions.
In the email, O’Beirne tried to assure the soon-to-be displaced employees that the decisions were based on “policy change in the Obama administration” and not based on performance.
However, he said, if employees “harbor residual doubts” then they can “content yourself with the likelihood that it was your outstanding performance as a Bush appointee that drew the opposition’s attention to you.”
“In that regard, you may take justifiable satisfaction that you were among the first to be chosen,” O’Beirne wrote.
First, when talking to officials at the Pentagon, it’s best not to refer to Barack Obama and his administration as “the opposition.” He’s the next Commander in Chief.
Second, this behind-the-scenes whining from O’Beirne is nonsensical — political appointees are routinely replaced when a new president takes office. There’s no reason for any of these officials to “harbor residual doubts,” since they no doubt expected to depart once Bush’s presidency ended.
And third, for O’Beirne, of all people, to complain about employment decisions based on politics instead of merit is hysterical. We’re talking about a guy who once described a young man applying for a job in Iraq as “an ideal candidate” because he’d worked for the Republican Party in Florida during the presidential election recount in 2000.
O’Beirne screened prospective political appointees for Defense Department posts by asking about Roe v. Wade, for crying out loud.