Why Did Our Iraq Special Envoy Bail Out In Advance Of The January Elections?
Hereís a little piece of intra-administration fluff for you to chew on and discard today. Almost off the radar screen last week was the sudden announcement by former ambassador and special Iraq envoy Robert Blackwill that he was leaving the administration three months before the Iraqi elections. Blackwill, widely lauded by Bush when he was appointed to step in and clean up Condi Riceís ineptitude in managing occupation policy, was supposed to be focusing on steering the country towards its first elections in January. Instead, Blackwill suddenly resigned last week so that he could immediately cash in and join Haley Barbourís lobbying firm and begin work right away. Obviously Blackwill didnít see a big upside in staying around to do his job and see to it that the elections for which he was assigned responsibility went off as well as possible.
We now know another reason why Blackwill suddenly stepped out to go cash in: he was upbraided by Condi for allegedly verbally and physically assaulting a female secretary back in September after he was unable to catch a flight home from Kuwait so that he could go campaign for Bush. In fact, the information on this incident came up through the State Department where both Colin Powell and Richard Armitage got personally involved in dealing with the female secretary, gathering evidence of the attack, and bringing it directly to Condiís attention, whereupon she scolded Blackwill for his behavior.
Even though Powell and Armitage obtained witness statements on the incident, and even though the incident was reported to the White House in September, it didnít stop Bush from having Blackwill accompany him on campaign trips in October. And again Blackwill was where he was because Rice had dropped the ball in coordinating the occupation herself. So Bush needed Blackwill with him to tell the faithful how well things in Iraq were going.
It should also be noted that Blackwill was slated by many to succeed Rice as NSA if Rice herself moved over to State or out in the second term. Blackwill knew from this incident Powellís involvement in gathering a case against him, and it would not be comfortable for him to be around Powell if Powell in fact hangs around for a while at State, as is possible. So either way, if Blackwill had hung around as special envoy for Powell to steer the Iraqi election, or as a possible NSA in a second term, the alleged assault as well as the possibility of a unsuccessful Iraqi election made the lure of lobbying dollars from Barbour too much to pass up apparently.
Or as Josh Marshall surmises, given Barbour's efforts to get rich on Iraqi contracts, it is likely that Blackwill is just the latest example of a trend whereby Bush Republicans jettison their duties so that they can go pursue their private interests and riches, after the table for doing so has been set up by our foreign policy.