Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Democrats Question State Department Nominee's (Lack of) Experience

Ellen Sauerbrey, a Bush crony nominated to head a key State Department post, was grilled today by Senate Democrats over her lack of relevant experience.

The State Department's refugee and migration program needs a chief with experience handling crises of displaced people, Democrats said during Sauerbrey's confirmation hearing today before the Foreign Relations Committee.

"It doesn't appear that you have very specific experience," said Sen. Barak Obama (D-IL).

"I don't think we see the requisite experience that we've seen in other nominees" for the job, added Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA).


JABBS first wrote about Sauerbrey's obvious lack of experience earlier this month.

Has Sauerbrey helped Bush? Sure. She was Bush's Maryland state campaign chairwoman in 2000. And no doubt she has been a loyal conservative activist and member of the Republican National Committee.

But she has no experience mobilizing responses to humanitarian emergencies.

"This is not a position where you drop in a political hack," Joel R. Charny of Refugees International in Washington told the Los Angeles Times. The international relief group opposes Sauerbrey's nomination.

"I don't want to say this is Michael Brown redux," he said, referring to the Bush crony who recently resigned as FEMA chairman. "But what qualifications does she have to deal with the core issue of refugees? The answer is none."

Kathleen Newland, director of the independent Migration Policy Institute, said former Bush appointee Arthur Dewey, former Clinton appointee Julia Taft, and earlier bureau heads had deep field experience before being named to the job. Contrast that with Bush's FEMA leadership, where Brown and two top deputies had no relevant experience.

"The refugee bureau has not been a spot for political appointments," Newland told the Times. "This is not a position for on-the-job learning."


If confirmed by the Senate, Sauerbrey would head an agency with a $700-million annual budget that has responsibility for coordinating the U.S. government's response to refugee crises during natural disasters and wars.

The bureau coordinates with private and international organizations, such as the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, to help set up refugee camps and to ensure sufficient food and other aid. It has helped confront refugee crises around the globe, including in war-torn Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as in southern Asia after the December tsunami.

Funnily, the Washington Times offered and editorial endorsing Sauerbrey, saying "the facts simply don't bear it out" that Sauerbrey is an unqualified crony.

So what qualifications do the Times cite? How about this gem: "Mrs. Sauerbrey was a regional U.S. census manager who hired and oversaw 300 people in three urban counties. ... We hope the critics who say she "has no experience administering the types of large-scale programs" that the State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration runs are reading this."

Right, that qualifies her to head a U.S.-based international effort and a $700 million budget.

You know, I once helped coach a men's softball team. Using the Times formula, that makes me a reasonable candidate to fill the opening managing the Los Angeles Dodgers.


Anonymous ash said...

Oh, go ahead and say it: she IS Michael Brown redux.

4:51 PM  

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