Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Obama Fires 90 Top Bush Loyalists At Pentagon

Sec. Gates to keep much of his staff, but Obama lets 90 top Bush loyalists go.

By Sam Youngman - Despite keeping Defense Secretary Robert Gates in the Pentagon, President-elect Obama’s transition team informed 90 Bush appointees their services will not be needed after Inauguration Day.

Scott Gration, a senior official on Obama’s transition team, called and emailed several of President Bush’s Pentagon appointees about 10 days ago to inform them they were being dismissed. Those calls and emails were followed up by an email from Jim O'Beirne, the special assistant to the secretary of defense for White House liaisons, who expressed exasperation that Gration informed the employees directly instead of letting O'Beirne's office know first.

"With regard to the process, I am unable to provide an explanation," O'Beirne wrote on Tuesday in the email, which was obtained by The Hill. "I played no part in it, and I will not speculate why matters were handled as they were."

A spokesman for the Pentagon said Gates was "absolutely satisfied" with the way the transition was handled.

Gates "is sensitive to the fact that a number of appointees will not be able to stay on after [Jan.] 20th," Defense Department spokesman Geoff Morrell said. He noted Gates did request many appointees stay on and the "Obama team was able to cooperate."

But O'Beirne made it clear in the email that in some cases of dismissal, he thinks the employee's politics played a role in their being let go.

O'Beirne said that Gates had "sought to keep virtually his entire team in place pending the availability of Obama replacements."

Out of roughly 250 political appointees, 90 were dismissed

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