May 23, 2004

Hire Me! I'm breathing!

Yessiree bob, we're competent managers, alright. Why do you ask? Sure we did our recruiting to help run the Coalition Provisional Authority with blind e-mails sent to kids who'd posted their resumés with the Heritage Foundation; you got a problem with that?

For Ledeen, the offer seemed like fate. One of her family friends had been killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and it had affected her family deeply. Without hesitation, she responded "Sure" to the e-mail and waited -- for an interview, a background check or some other follow-up. Apparently none was necessary. A week later, she got a second e-mail telling her to look for a packet in the mail regarding her move to Baghdad.


Several had impressive paper credentials, but in the wrong fields. Greco was fluent in English, Italian and Spanish; Burns had been a policy analyst focused on family and health care; and Ledeen had co-founded a cooking school. But none had ever worked in the Middle East, none spoke Arabic, and few could tell a balance sheet from an accounts receivable statement.


The group's primary responsibility was to hand out money. Each month, it sent out authorizations for the release of several hundred million dollars for government employees' salaries, reconstruction projects and sundry other expenses.

But they were also involved in higher-level policy decisions -- revising the 2004 budget, shifting around money as priorities changed and formulating plans for replacing the food baskets Iraqi families got each month with cash payments.

Now look. These kids had as much idealism as I did at their age, and I commend them for it. But who in his right mind sends people with no appropriate skills to a place as badly in need of those skills as Baghdad? Not only that, but it sent those kids to a place which had planned for 3,700 personnel, and it was trying to run on 1,300. I grant you that finding people willing to go to such a dangerous place isn't easy, but sending raw recruits to a battle front is just asking for disaster. No wonder the CPA is viewed with such disdain in that country, and no wonder it's done what appears to be a lousy job.

Posted by Linkmeister at May 23, 2004 05:24 PM