their adherence to the Presidents vision for Iraq

"I was in my own world," he said later. "I did my own thing."

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 all manner of Americans -- restless professionals, Arabic-speaking academics, development specialists and war-zone adventurers. But before they could go to Baghdad, they had to get past Jim O'Beirne's office in the Pentagon.

To pass muster with O'Beirne, a political appointee who screens prospective political appointees for Defense Department posts, 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 .

Many of those chosen by O'Beirne's office to work for the Coalition Provisional Authority, which ran Iraq's government from April 2003 to June 2004, lacked vital skills and experience. 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 were tapped to manage Iraq's $13 billion budget, even though they didn't have a background in accounting.

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, according to many people who participated in the reconstruction effort.

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.

Article in full
This was written by Omar Masry, who served in OIF as a civil affairs sergeant. He touches a bit on the CPA
Iraq...lacking ammunition...

As I headed home following a year in Baghdad as a Civil Affairs Reservist with the US Army I had a chance to transit through Kuwait. I along with a few other soldiers were invited to see the first ever soccer match between the Kuwaitis and the players of a Free Iraq. As we sat in the VIP area at the invitation of a Kuwaiti Emir I was amused to find the only people cheering on the Iraqi soccer team were none other than the Americans present. They played their hearts out, they played with dignity even as the Kuwaiti players feigned injuries to score advantages. At one point I recruited some other Americans to yell kizzab "liars" every time the Kuwaiti players played dirty. Alas the match ended with a 2 point loss for the Iraqi's. As the match ended and the Kuwaiti fans continued their glares over at me along with some of my fellow soldiers, I leaned against the railing and turned around to see an Iraqi player looking up at me asking who I was and who it was rooting them on. When I replied I was an American and they were fellow soldiers he was in disbelief. It was then that one of the coaches approached and once again asked who we were to which I replied it was Americans. The coach paused, looked at me and said something that will always remain with me, "after all these years, the Americans are rooting for us? We did win tonight."

In my time in Iraq I saw both the worst of America and the best of America. I saw our ability to destroy and our opportunity to foster hope and freedom. I saw Iraqi's that risked their lives to rebuild their nation and fellow soldiers that embodied the qualities of a noble warrior. I saw Army Chaplains working on building an orphanage for Iraqi Shia orphans. I saw twenty year old privates from small towns who were tough as nails but melted around Iraqi children, writing their families and communties back home to send school supplies to a people they often shared just a few words of english to communicate with.

Yet what fostered our discontent wasn’t what we did accomplish but what more we could have done had we the right leadership. Not only did they fail to arm us with the lifesaving protection of armored humvees or proper bulletproof vests, but they failed to arm us with the tools to win the peace after so decisively winning the battle.

I had the opportunity many soldiers didn’t have to see a glimpse of the inner workings of the agency ran by the civilian leadership of the Department of Defense, the Coalition Provisional Authority under Ambassador Bremmer as it took the lead in deciding Iraq's future. Quite frankly much of what I saw dissapointed me. Not only did many of their goals and decisions run counter to the promises my Commander in Chief stated before the world about the future of Iraq, but they just as importantly ran counter to the needs of the military and placed fellow American soldiers in danger.

The decisions to disband the Iraqi Army, the misguided focus of CPA staffers to spend more time on creating a market economy that would be a potential gold mine for corporations while ignoring the requests for the military to obtain funding so that soldiers could buy weapons and bulletproof vests for Iraqi police or fix hospitals and schools were just the tip of the iceberg. The idea that we could place a bank thief that had been convicted in neighboring Jordan, an ally, of embezzlement, Ahmed Chalabi in charge of the Iraqi finance ministry and then have him sit next to Laura Bush during the State of the Union speech sent mixed signals to the reformers in the Middle East whose moderation and vision we need to combat the inequity that breeds terrorism. Even the creation of CPA itself was an affront to the State Department that was completely sidelined until Ayatollah Sistani basically dealt a death blow to the manipulated caucaus system proposed by CPA when he demanded one vote for each Iraqi. Had Ayatollah Sistani, a moderate whose only desire is to not see his people brutalized by the likes of Saddam again, withdrawn his support the very next day nearly three quarters of the Iraqi's working for the Coalition Forces or the newly formed Iraqi ministries would not show up to work. In one swift motion Iraq would have been lost. Only after a year of opportunities missed and gross errors made in which CPA repeatedly violated the Geneva and Hague Conventions did the State Department finally take the helm on July 1. As one USAID staffer quipped, "they're hoping to undo all the screwups of CPA".

I am an American of both Arab descent and the Muslim faith. I took pride in serving the land of my birth, in being a part of a nation that has given my parents the opportunity to escape the dictatorships of places like Saudia Arabia where my mother was born. I relished the opportunity to talk to Iraqi's even as I stood outside newly formed local democratic councils in the 100+ degree heat of a Baghdad summer carrying an M-16 and discussing the aspect of justice in America, something Islam has also striven to foster and took pride in telling Iraqi's the best of what I saw in America. How I lived in a country where I was treated with respect for my faith so often. How on the morning of September 11th as I sat in a college class a Jewish female classmate turned to the muslim female wearing a scarf next to her and offerred to escort her while she went shopping or ran errands lest anyone attempt to take out their anger on her. How I lived in a nation where every American was proud to see a African American boxer named Muhammed Ali light the Olympic flame at the Atlanta Games.

It is by virtue of our power and influence that we have the responsibility to serve as a source of leadership for the world. To be the "city upon the hill' that former President Ronald Reagan spoke of. Yet I and many others see so many opportunities lost. So many chances to write the wrongs of the past, to create a foreign policy that truly represents the America I cherish. Able to win wars when necessary and decisively shock and awe the world with our ability to win the peace by our commitment, the strenght in our diversity, and leadership that sees past agendas and opportunism to which we can all be proud. I refuse to believe that it can't be done.

Ask an Arab who can best solve the Israeli-Palestinian crisis and they will tell you the United States.

Ask any Bosnian Muslim child about the day they cried tears of joy and they will tell you it was the day that US/NATO led F-16s flew over the Sarajevo and began shelling the hillside positions from which Serb snipers would shoot mothers and children as they ran to fetch water and firewood. That was the day they knew they were free, the day they knew their sisters would not end up in rape camps and their fathers would not find their resting place in a mass grave.

Some of those against the war spoke of the fact that containment against Saddam was working. In fact that containment was a declaration of a silent war against the Iraqi people. It not only strengthened the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein but the thousand of Iraqi children that died from a lack of the most basic medicines in the arms of their mothers will far outnumber any of the Iraqi or American casualties. I have come away from my experience in Iraq with the firm conviction that sanctions are both un-American and a brutal form of a silent death waged upon the civilian population. Those sanctions along with the Iran-Iraq, Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom served as a triple whammy that devastated one of the most advanced nations in the Middle East reducing it to a society where tragically one would meet mothers who could read, yet their daughters were illiterate.

While many that supported the war continue to defend the threat of Al Qaeda and WMD connecitons to most of us serving in Iraq it was really a moot point. The only exception being when I happened to see an inspector wearing an Iraq Survey Group ID as I stood in line at the Baghdad Airports Burger King and teased them by sugguesting they look behind the porta potty for the jackpot. Whatever lies or exaggerations were made matter little when your worried about incoming mortars. The pundity of armchair generals on american news channels beamed in via satellite to our operations centers made it seem like the enemy was amassed on the plains of the Karbala Gap awaiting our action. In fact the most useful intelligence that was vital in capturing terrorists was obtained not through disgraces like Abu Gharayb or milion dollar spy drones but simply from Iraqis walking up to soldiers at checkpoints risking their lives to save their country and inform on those who were sometimes related to them.
Watch the documentary abouth Thunder Division.

Individual soldiers doing a dynamite job of hearts and minds being hamstrung by that prick Bremner.

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