I received my federal union newsletter today and was shocked by an article which talked about the Iraq Study Group's recommendation calling for directed assignments of federal employees to Iraq. As an attorney I always like to read the primary source so I downloaded the Iraq Study Group's report
. On page 60 there is a section titled U.S. personnel. The introduction to that section states, among other things, "The nature of the mission in Iraq is unfamiliar and dangerous, and the United States has had great difficulty filling civilian assignments in Iraq with sufficient numbers of properly trained personnel at the appropriate rank." The kicker is Recommendation 74 which states "In the short term, if not enough civilians volunteer to fill key
positions in Iraq, civilian agencies must fill those positions with directed assignments. Steps should be taken to mitigate familial or financial hardships posed by directed assignments, including tax exclusions similar to those authorized for U.S. military personnel serving in Iraq."
Pardon my language because I do not know any other way to truly capture my anger and frustration, but these people have a lot of balls. I think it is the height of irresponsibility to suggest that federal employees should be deployed to Iraq when our troops should not even be there. And if you pay close attention to the language, it is not limited to State Department or foreign service personnel, who, in fact, may have an expectation of overseas assignment. The fact that this was a bipartisan group of high profile former politicians makes me question the state of political leadership in this country.
The key members of the group are James A. Baker, III, Lee H. Hamilton, Lawrence S. Eagleburger, Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., Edwin Meese III, Sandra Day O’Connor, Leon E. Panetta, William J. Perry, Charles S. Robb, and Alan K. Simpson. Here is my recommendation to them and the dozens of others involved in this undertaking: all of you have decades of experience in politics and business, you go the hell to Iraq and fix what Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld broke.