Monday, May 24, 2004

Sunday 23rd May 2004

Just read this , could Rummy be banning the camera phones so that no proof can be released about more abuses ? I love his type of democracy ;)

Thanks ZH again for this article :

May 23, 2004
Mix of Idealism and Résumé-Building Motivates Americans Seeking Jobs in
WASHINGTON, May 22 — Ty Cobb Jr. was fresh from law school and eager to add
to a résumé that already included answering mail in the Virginia
governor's office when he heard through contacts that the Bush
administration was looking to fill civilian jobs in Iraq.
So despite having little foreign experience beyond touring Europe and
studying there for a summer, Mr. Cobb headed to Baghdad. He has since
traveled the country — often packing a 9-millimeter pistol or an AK-47 —
to help educate Iraqis about democracy. He says he is committed to the
United States' mission there, but he is not shy about saying that there
are career calculations behind his adventure: he hopes it will lead to a
government job.
"If they look at a résumé and see that someone picked up and moved to Iraq
for seven months, they will put their faith in you to handle the rigors of
any position," Mr. Cobb said.
Hundreds of Americans have converged on Iraq for all kinds of reasons.
Some consider it rewarding to try to bring democracy to the Iraqis. Some
are in it for the adventure. For some, it is a combination of the
experience, the fervor for supporting the administration's goals and the
sense that it is more exciting than work back home.
Many of these recruits have top-notch skills. But the downside, foreign
policy experts say, is that some lack the proper experience for such
difficult and often unsafe assignments.
"A vast number of people are being recruited who have no qualifications,
no background, and who have never done anything serious in the U.S.," said
Anthony Cordesman, a Middle East expert at the Center for Strategic and
International Studies in Washington.
Daniel Benjamin, who is also at the center working on the postconflict
reconstruction project, said some who go to Iraq were altruistic, some
were opportunistic and others were just doing a job.
"For better or worse, this is the biggest show in town and it's a place to
get your ticket punched," Mr. Benjamin said.
The jobs are filled by the Coalition Provisional Authority, the United
States civilian administration that is running Iraq. Created just over a
year ago, the authority has about 1,160 employees, including more than 325
members of the military and about 150 workers from other countries,
according to authority officials. Some are on loan from government
agencies in Washington, while others have been hired from the outside.
Most recruiting is done through a Defense Department Web page called Sofia
(Support Our Friends in Iraq and Afghanistan), which seeks people
interested in "assisting the fledgling governments in their quest to
become full-fledged democracies."
"People who submit a résumé need to understand that conditions may be
harsh, primitive and hazardous," the Web page says. "Conversely, there may
be few opportunities in life to make such a lasting contribution to world
The authority has received more than 11,000 résumés, and though officials
say political affiliation carries no standing, Republican connections seem
to help some of them stand out.
Mike Hardiman, 43, a former aide to a Republican congressman, was
self-employed as a Washington lobbyist and public relations specialist
when a Pentagon official he would not identify asked him to go to Iraq. As
a lobbyist Mr. Hardiman has handled clients like the American Land Rights
Association, which represents property owners opposed to government land
In Iraq, he is a spokesman for the occupation authority, working with a
portion of the Iraqi government that, among other things, works on land
and infrastructure issues. "Things like traffic circles, sewers and zoning
codes are interesting to me," Mr. Hardiman said.
Mr. Hardiman tells of having to explain to Iraqi reporters that a $10
million beautification effort will not be used to erect statues of
President Bush. The truth in Iraq, he says, is sometimes stranger than
fiction. But he says he believes in what the United States is doing.
"Free speech, an open economy and democracy are the genies that have been
let out of the bottle, and they will not be put back in," he wrote in an
e-mail message. "There will be successes and setbacks, but freedom will
win, I see it firsthand every day."
Rich Galen, 57, is a former press aide to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich
with extensive international experience who runs an online Republican
newsletter called Mullings. He worked in the authority's press office,
helping broadcast reporters from smaller markets.
Mr. Galen, who is now back in the United States, said he got his
invitation from the White House, but he too declined to say who called.
"When they ask you to go, the only answer is `When can I leave?' " he said.
Job descriptions originate on the ground in Iraq, and candidates are found
through the database of applicants that Sofia provides. Occupation
officials say that all candidates are selected to fill specific jobs
according to their credentials, and that many have specific skills that
are in demand, like fluency in Arabic or a deep knowledge of health care,
financial markets and other policy areas.
"Those who are here believe in the mission," said Dan Senor, a spokesman
for the occupation authority. "They want a hand in building democracy in
Most stay from six months to a year, sometimes less, working six-day weeks
and often living in the secure part of Baghdad known as the green zone.
Those who work outside the zone, where many of the ministries are based,
travel heavily guarded. Body armor is common, and many also carry guns.
Mr. Cobb, 28, was searching for a job in Washington last year when he
heard about the positions in Iraq while at a meeting at the Pentagon to
get job advice. His father had served on the National Security Council
staff in the Reagan White House, which helped open doors like this.
The idea immediately appealed to Mr. Cobb, who became interested in a
career in counterterrorism or national security after losing a friend in
the Sept. 11 attacks. Like many who now serve in Iraq, he said he believed
strongly in the war and the efforts that followed. Those who support the
war, he said, have a duty to do what they can.
"The whole reason I'm here is that I believe it is part of an effort to
make America a more secure place," Mr. Cobb said. "That seems to be the
general feeling people have."
Though conditions in the green zone may be safer than those outside it,
many of those interviewed said their routine in Iraq was a radical
departure from the lives they had left back home as students, political
consultants or employees of government agencies.
Many spend their days in or around Saddam Hussein's massive palace, which
now serves as headquarters for the occupation authority. Meals are eaten
in a cafeteria there. Quarters for those who arrive are often large,
communal rooms packed with dozens of workers .
On their first night in Baghdad many have bunked in what is known as the
chapel, which several workers described as a religious chamber known for
its mural of missiles being launched. Later, they move to four-person
trailers that are placed all over the green zone, each surrounded by a
wall of sandbags.
War stories are common. Many workers interviewed told of being awakened by
explosions, and of rocket and mortar attacks that missed them by only a
few hundred feet. Even when there is a break in the violence, workers
think about the friends who have been killed or wounded. Though only two
Americans on the occupation staff have been killed, according to the
Pentagon, many workers in Iraq know contractors, locals and workers from
other countries who have been victims of the violence. Then there are
stories like the decapitation of Nicholas Berg, a contractor, which
present the danger in the starkest terms.
"Sometimes I feel like this is an evil place, because people are doing
terrible things to each other," said Elizabeth Cote, 27, a medical student
on leave from Harvard University to work on health care policy and
volunteer in a combat hospital. "But it may be the most positive
experience in my life. There are examples of kindness and people putting
their life on the line to do things."
Still, tough conditions have not stopped people from taking these jobs.
Iraq offers opportunities to some that they cannot get elsewhere.
Jacques Myers, 48, was a civilian firefighter at a military base in
Wisconsin who came to train Iraqis. Two weeks after his arrival, his boss
left and Mr. Myers was placed in charge of advising the country's 8,400
firefighters, a force comparable to the fire department of a major
American city.
"It's something I'd never be able to do stateside," he said. "I control
$200 million worth of equipment."
Van Smith, 23, was at lunch one day when he ran into a college friend and
the friend's father, Steve Casteel, a senior American adviser to Iraq's
Interior Ministry. They started talking about Iraq.
Mr. Smith was working at his first job after college, as director of
public outreach at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, his alma
mater. He happened to be reading a biography of Winston Churchill at the
"I was at the chapter where we were the same age and he was having life
adventure after life adventure," he said. "I was saying I wish I had a
chance to be involved in something international and in war, I wish I had
a chance to make a difference in a foreign place."
He had a résumé to Mr. Casteel before the day ended.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

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