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Wednesday, 20 September 2006 03:12

DNC: Bush Cronies: Unqualified But Well Connected

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NEWS RELEASE

DNC: BUSH CRONIES: UNQUALIFIED BUT WELL CONNECTED

Washington, DC - On Sunday, the Washington Post chronicled how the Bush Administration's pattern of rewarding unqualified political cronies with jobs has hindered the Iraqi reconstruction efforts. These GOP allies were given jobs based on their political service in campaigns not their experience or expertise in the respective areas of reconstruction including security, health care and finance. This is just the latest example of the Bush Administration's continued practice of putting their party above the needs of the American people. Over the past five years, the White House has installed Bush cronies in all corners of the government, regardless of their qualifications, with serious, sometimes harmful consequences as a result.

Iraq Coalition Provisional Authority

Unqualified Cronies Appointed to Coalition Provisional Authority. Department of Defense political appointee Jim O'Beirne had been tasked with filling positions on organization which is to rebuild Iraq, the Coalition Provisional Authority. "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: 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." Jim O'Beirne is married to conservative commentator Kate O'Beirne. [Washington Post, 9/17/06]

  • Jay Hallen, Iraqi Stock Exchange / Coalition Provisional Authority. Jay Hallen, aged 24, was tapped by Jim O'Beirne to reopen the Iraqi stock exchange, despite having no background in finance. While in Iraq, "Hallen decided that he didn't just want to reopen the exchange, he wanted to make it the best, most modern stock market in the Arab world...Iraqis cringed at Hallen's plan. Their top priority was reopening the exchange, not setting up computers or enacting a new securities law. [B]roker Talib Tabatabai [said] Hallen's plan was unrealistic. When Tabatabai was asked what would have happened if Hallen hadn't been assigned to reopen the exchange, he smiled. 'We would have opened months earlier. He had grand ideas, but those ideas did not materialize,' Tabatabai said of Hallen. 'Those CPA people reminded me of Lawrence of Arabia.'" [Washington Post, 9/17/06]

  • James Haveman, Iraqi Health Care System / Coalition Provisional Authority. James Haveman, a 60-year-old social worker, was tapped to restructure Iraq's health care system despite the fact that he was largely unknown among international health experts. Haveman launched an anti-smoking campaign rather than using the CPA's limited resources to prevent childhood diarrhea or other fatal diseases. He insisted that Iraqis should "pay a small fee" every time they saw a doctor, and allocated funds for community health centers rather than rehabilitating the emergency rooms and operating theaters at Iraqi hospitals, even though injuries from insurgent attacks were the country's single largest public health challenge. And he decided to rewrite the country's formulary for prescription drugs. "Haveman's critics, including more than a dozen people who worked for him in Baghdad, contend that rewriting the formulary was a distraction...The new health minister, Aladin Alwan, beseeched the United Nations for help, [saying] 'We didn't need a new formulary. We needed drugs,' he said. 'But the Americans did not understand that.' [Washington Post, 9/17/06]

  • Havemen Replaced Experienced Public Health Expert. "Haveman replaced 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, which sent him to Baghdad immediately after the war...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.'" [Washington Post, 9/17/06]

Bernard Kerik, Iraqi Police Forces / Coalition Provisional Authority. "In May 2003, a team of law enforcement experts from the Justice Department concluded that more than 6,600 foreign advisers were needed to help rehabilitate Iraq's police forces. The White House dispatched just one: Bernie Kerik...The first months after liberation were a critical period for Iraq's police. Officers needed to be called back to work and screened for Baath Party connections. They'd have to learn about due process, how to interrogate without torture, how to walk the beat. They required new weapons. New chiefs had to be selected. Tens of thousands more officers would have to be hired to put the genie of anarchy back in the bottle. Kerik held only two staff meetings while in Iraq, one when he arrived and the other when he was being shadowed by a New York Times reporter, according to Gerald Burke, a former Massachusetts State Police commander who participated in the initial Justice Department assessment mission. Despite his White House connections, Kerik did not secure funding for the desperately needed police advisers. With no help on the way, the task of organizing and training Iraqi officers fell to U.S. military police soldiers, many of whom had no experience in civilian law enforcement. 'He was the wrong guy at the wrong time,' Burke said later. 'Bernie didn't have the skills. What we needed was a chief executive-level person. . . . Bernie came in with a street-cop mentality.'" [Washington Post, 9/17/06]

  • Kerik Withdrew His Nomination As Homeland Security Chief Amid Controversy. "Bernard Kerik, New York City's former top cop, withdrew his name from consideration to be President Bush's homeland security secretary, citing the embarrassing 'nanny problem' that has killed the nominations of other prominent officials," according to CBS News. During his confirmation process, "lawyers were aware that Kerik had been questioned in a civil lawsuit involving questions about an alleged extramarital affair with a corrections employee; the failure to properly report financial gifts on disclosure forms; and an arrest warrant issued after he failed to pay condo fees," according to msnbc.com. [CBSNews.com, 12/10/04; MSNBC.com, 12/13/04]

Thomas C. Foley, Privatization. "Thomas C. Foley, the CPA official in charge of privatizing state-owned enterprises. (Foley, a major Republican Party donor, went to Harvard Business School with President Bush.) Some, like Foley, were personally recruited by Bush," according to the Washington Post. Foley's boss in Iraq was Jay Hallen (see above). [Washington Post, 9/17/06]

FEMA

Michael Brown, Director of FEMA. Before taking over the reins of the Federal Emergency Management Agency Michael Brown only held one position in emergency management. The position was for the city Edmond, OK where he interned in college. Brown also previously held the position of commissioner of the International Arabian Horse Association. Michael Brown drew immense criticism for his handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. [Time, 9/8/05, CNN 9/8/05]

Joe Allbaugh, Director FEMA; Left FEMA to Engage in War Profiteering. When Bush was governor of Texas Allbaugh served as his Chief of Staff. Next Allbaugh managed Bush's Presidential campaign. Allbaugh was rewarded with the top job at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA.) A few weeks before the Iraq War began Allbaugh left his position "to get into the business of securing pricey Iraqi reconstruction contracts for high-flying clients" at New Bridge Strategies. [Hill, 10/1/03]

Department of Homeland Security

Julie Myers, Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. "Julie Myers is an attorney, former prosecutor and former White House personnel officer who seems to be a rising star in the administration, she is also married to the chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security, but she has little expertise in immigration and no management background to suggest she can take over an agency with 15,000 employees and a $4 billion budget." [Star Tribune, 1/12/06]

Tracy Henke, Executive Director of the Department of Homeland Security Office of State and Local Government Coordination and Preparedness. "Tracy Henke, an Ashcroft apparatchik from the Justice Department who was best known for trying to politicize the findings of its Bureau of Justice Statistics. So much so that the White House installed her in Homeland Security with a recess appointment, to shield her from protracted Senate scrutiny. Under Henke math, it follows that St. Louis, in her home state and Mr. Ashcroft's, has seen its counterterrorism allotment rise by more than 30 percent while that for the cities actually attacked on 9/11 fell." [New York Times Editorial, 6/25/06]

Department of State

Ellen Sauerbrey, Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Immigration. According to a Cox News Service Column "Ellen Sauerbrey, an anti-abortion activist, has become assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and immigration, a position ordinarily filled by experienced professionals. Sauerbrey's scant qualifications include being booed by the other delegates to a United Nations conference on women for insisting worldwide abstinence is the way to reduce HIV." The Star Tribune wrote that "Sauerbrey, the Maryland chairman of Bush's 2000 presidential campaign, has no experience in dealing with refugees and has been antagonistic to mainstream population efforts." [Cox News Service Column, 1/13/06, Star Tribune, 1/12/06]

Food and Drug Administration

Scott Gottlieb, Food and Drug Administration Deputy Commissioner for Medical and Scientific Affairs. Thirty-three year old former American Enterprise Institute fellow and Wall Street tipster Gottlieb "was named deputy commissioner for medical and scientific affairs, one of three deputies in the agency's second-ranked post at FDA." Gottlieb drew criticism when he questioned the stoppage of medical trials of a "drug for multiple sclerosis during which three people had developed an unusual disorder in which their bodies eliminated their blood platelets and one died of intracerebral bleeding as a result...Gottlieb speculated that the complication might have been the result of the disease and not the drug. 'Just seems like an overreaction to place a clinical hold' on the trial." [Time, 10/3/05]

OMB and GSA

Clay Johnson, OMB Deputy Director. Bureau of the Budget deputy director Clay Johnson, "a Texas friend of the president's since their days at Yale and Mr. Bush's first White House personnel director." Johnson also handled appointments for Mr. Bush when he was governor. [Dallas Morning News, 8/10/05]

David Safavian, Chief Procurement Officer General Services Administration. Former Lobbying Partner of Grover Norquist "David Safavian didn't have much hands-on experience in government contracting when the Bush Administration tapped him in 2003 to be its chief procurement officer. A law-school internship helping the Pentagon buy helicopters was about the extent of it. Yet as administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, Safavian, 38, was placed in charge of the $ 300 billion the government spends each year on everything from paper clips to nuclear submarines, as well as the $ 62 billion already earmarked for Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts. It was his job to ensure that the government got the most for its money and that competition for federal contracts--among companies as well as between government workers and private contractors--was fair. It was his job until he resigned on Sept. 16 and was subsequently arrested and charged with lying and obstructing a criminal investigation into Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff's dealings with the Federal Government." [Time, 10/3/05]

NEWS RELEASE

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