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Talking Points Memo is linking to a story in The Hill reporting the Obama team’s decision to fire 90 or so Bush political appointees at the Pentagon.

This is good news in and of itself (of the "What do you call a hundred lawyers chained together at the bottom of the sea?" variety), but there's also a wonderfully ironic back story to it that The Hill reporter either didn’t notice or didn’t see fit to print.

The story quotes extensively from a leaked, whiny e-mail written by Jim O'Beirne -- identified in the story as "the special assistant to the secretary of defense for White House liaisons" -- bitching about the way the dismissals were handled by the Obama transition team (O’Beirne claims he was kept completely out of the loop), and giving all those loyal but soon-to-be-unemployed Bushies a big wet farewell kiss:

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."

Apparently, the President Elect isn’t the new commander in chief, but just "the opposition". So much for that "unifying" transition David Frum’s been yammering about.

But it gets better. O’Beirne’s name should ring a bell among students of the Iraq War fiasco. Husband of National Review columnist and all-around harpie Kate O'Beirne, he was a minor but highly instrumental player in the cabal of neoconservative bureaucrats who helped turn the late, unlamented Coalition Provisional Authority into what I liked to call the RNC branch office on the Tigris.

From the Washington Post, September 17, 2006:

Ties to GOP Trumped Know-How Among Staff Sent to Rebuild Iraq
Early U.S. Missteps in the Green Zone

By Rajiv Chandrasekaran

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. (emphasis added)

In other words, Jim O’Beirne did as much as anyone in the US government -- and more than most -- to turn the first few years of the Iraq occupation into a complete clusterfuck, thereby contributing to the deaths of thousands of US troops and tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of Iraqi civilians. All for the greater political glory of George W. Bush and the Republican Party. And now he’s throwing a hissy fit because "the opposition" is getting an early start on shoveling the cow crap out of the stable?

O'Beirne made it clear in the email that in some cases of dismissal, he thinks the employee's politics played a role in their being let go.

What can you say? Your modern conservative movement: Clueless, humorless, self-absorbed assholes, right to the bitter end.

But I guess we always knew they would go out that way.

Originally posted to billmon on Wed Dec 31, 2008 at 10:36 AM PST.

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