From the Detroit Free Press/AP:
Bush loyalists pack Iraq press office
April 4, 2004 | BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) — Inside the marble-floored palace hall that serves as the press office of the U.S.-led coalition, Republican Party operatives lead a team of Americans who promote mostly good news about Iraq.
Dan Senor, a former press secretary for Spencer Abraham, the Michigan Republican who’s now Energy Secretary, heads the office packed with former Bush campaign workers, political appointees and ex-Capitol Hill staffers.
One-third of the U.S. civilian workers in the press office have GOP ties, running an enterprise that critics see as an outpost of Bush’s re-election effort with Iraq a top concern. Senor and others inside the coalition say they follow strict guidelines that steer clear of politics.
One of the main goals of the Office of Strategic Communications — known as stratcom — is to ensure Americans see the positive side of the Bush administration’s invasion, occupation and reconstruction of Iraq, where 600 U.S. soldiers have died and a deadly insurgency thrives.
Known as the Green Room, the press office is inside coalition headquarters in the Republican Palace that used to belong to Saddam Hussein. The palace is in central Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone.
The office counts 21 Republicans — 11 of whom have worked inside the Bush administration before their Iraq posting — among its 58 U.S. civilian staffers, according to figures Senor provided.
More than half a dozen CPA officials in the press office worked on Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign or are related to Bush campaign workers, according to payroll records filed with the Federal Elections Commission.
Republican figures also permeate the wider CPA staff, including top advisers to U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer and the Iraqi ministries.
Rich Galen, 57, a well-known Republican strategist, oversees the daily news releases sent directly to media outlets in the United States. Before joining the CPA press operation late last year, Galen wrote a GOP insider column and appeared on Fox News to harpoon liberal critics of Bush.
Now, he’s still writing an Internet column, but he’s turned it into what he calls a travelogue about Iraq. And he still appears on Fox — but long-distance via satellite and as a CPA spokesman.
Galen has been press secretary for both former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Vice President Dan Quayle during their careers. Galen’s 27-year-old son, Reed, is involved in the Bush re-election effort.
Is anyone surprised by this? Didn’t think so. As Josh Marshall notes, they don’t call it the Republican Palace for nothin’.