Former staffer slams diplomats in Iraq
Yahoo News/AP
By MATTHEW LEE, Associated Press Writer
February 8, 2008

WASHINGTON - A Republican Party activist and former top GOP congressional aide who worked at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad is harshly criticizing the U.S. diplomatic effort in Iraq, accusing American diplomats of gross and potentially criminal negligence and incompetence.

In a scathing 10-page memo to U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker this week, Manuel Miranda said the State Department is incapable of carrying out President Bush's policies in the country because its diplomats lack basic management skills.

Miranda, a Bush supporter who just completed a yearlong tour as a senior legislative adviser at the Baghdad embassy, skewered Crocker and his team for failing to understand the urgency of the situation, delaying critical measures and getting stuck in institutional red tape.

"We have brought to Iraq the worst of America, our bureaucrats," he wrote in the internal Feb. 5 memo that has been circulating in Washington. "You are simply not up to the task. The American and Iraqi people deserve better."

Miranda, a lawyer who served as counsel to former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, said he was stunned by what he saw in Baghdad, with professional diplomats unwilling or unable to make important decisions on staffing, implement policy or assist the U.S. military effort.

Asked about the criticism, the State Department said Miranda was "entitled to his opinions" but that they were not shared by Bush or Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

"We think (Crocker) and his team are doing a tremendous job under what obviously are very difficult circumstances," deputy spokesman Tom Casey told reporters. "There certainly are a lot of challenges in Iraq, not only on the security side, but also on the side of political developments and reconstruction."

"We have great confidence in Ambassador Crocker and his team's ability to carry out that job," he said.

Miranda listed several examples of what he regards as failures, ranging from "a near complete lack" of coordination with other agencies and the Iraqi government, withholding information, blaming Iraqis for all shortcomings, providing bad advice on legislative matters and wasting millions in taxpayers' money.

Among them was the repeated pushing of Iraqis to accept a flawed law governing the distribution of oil revenue, which he said would have been rejected as untenable by "any experienced international lawyer."

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