Fortress on the Tigris

The U.S. public, by and large, is probably unaware of the mighty fortress built in Baghdad at taxpayer expense. The new U.S. Embassy, which opened in January 2009, is the largest and most expensive in the world – comparable in size to Vatican City.

As Iraqi police training and reconstruction projects are being transferred from the DOD to the State Department, I thought we should take a closer look at the embassy, now headed by U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Christopher R. Hill.

Throughout its construction phase, the embassy was wrapped in secrecy and controversy. Work on the rising embassy complex, under contract with First Kuwaiti Trading and Contracting, generated reports of unethical practices and even human trafficking in slave labor.

According to the official government Web site, total cost of construction was $592 million, a supplemental spending bill signed by former President George W. Bush. This does not include on-going operational budgets.

Located on the Tigris River inside the Green Zone, the embassy complex houses 21 buildings on a 104-acre site. Facilities include:

* Six apartment buildings for employees
* Water and waste treatment facilities
* A power station
* Two major diplomatic office buildings
* Recreational facilities including a gym, a cinema and a swimming pool
* Heavy fortification

So, we’re all set in Iraq, right?

Apparently not.

“The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad ‘is planning to double its ranks' as it takes over a host of missions for the military there, Deputy Chief of Mission Robert Ford tells Foreign Policy. ‘If Congress gives us the money we are asking for, this embassy is going to be twice the size it is now. It's not going down, it's getting bigger,’ said Ford.”

The Foreign Policy article is essential reading for those interested in the transition of the United States’ role in Iraq. (Citation below.)

Ford puts the embassy’s mission in simple terms: “ … (I)t's simply time for the United States to start taking its hand off the bicycle seat and let the Iraqis learn to fend for themselves.”

When the article states the embassy will double its size, it appears to refer to personnel rather than its actual physical plant. Yet, Ford goes on to state:

"My biggest problem here is figuring out where are these people going to live, how are we going to get the security for them, how are we going to get food for them, and how are we going to get their mail delivered."

Isn’t he saying the current facilities are inadequate?

In my opinion, the only government projects U.S. taxpayers raise hell about are those which have an actual price tag - say, healthcare reform. In areas where the true costs might never be known – homeland security, our mission in Iraq, our mission in Afghanistan – there seems to be blind acceptance. Ironically, the most protested programs stand to benefit Americans.

I am not espousing isolationism, but I do assert that the costs of solving our continuing domestic problems undergo inordinate scrutiny and opposition while those which bleed our treasury seem acceptable.


“U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has plans to double in size,” Foreign Policy, Josh Rogin, January 7, 2010: LINK

“New U.S. Embassy in Iraq cloaked in mystery,” MSNBC, April 14, 2006: LINK

"Fortress America" (VIDEO), NBC Nightly News, April 17, 2006, Andrea Mitchell reports: LINK

Official Web site: U.S. Embassy – Baghdad: LINK

U.S. Ambassado to Iraq Christopher R. Hill: LINK

“Embassy of the United States in Baghdad,” Wikipedia: LINK


Papamoka said...

You not only hit the nail on the head with your summation but you pretty much finished construction of the building. People claim to be conservatives but turn a blind eye on any military expenses when it comes to Iraq and that I can never understand. And yet our own people and returning disabled veterans are chucked the bird here at home.

Great post BJ and as always, follow the money and you uncover more than just the window dressing people are selling.

Frodo, kinda grumpy today, said...

Will it be dubbed the George Bush Center for Intelligence (oh can't be, that moniker is already held in Langley, Va.)? How about the Paul Wolfowitz Center for Personal Grooming?

Ranch Chimp said...

Thank You for the itemized listing's, etc. Ms.BJ.

Actually you may not be aware of this, but for almost two year's since I got online with my first computer April 2008, I have been writing alot about all the scam's and contracting that was being done and diversion's of fund's etc ... since this is one of my specialties ... how to make a buck that is. Felt that many investigation's that havent been made public yet are ungoing and have been since the last year or two of the last administration .... because of what move's been being made and offshore money (legal of course) laundering ... since all transaction's are done on a new global level ... it is very easy to to do this, because interpole and other US Agencies are not completely briefed on what is going on ... that is where the paid hacker's come in to teach, it's a long and twisted story. However thank you for your post.

Put it this way .... what happened under the Bush/ Cheney administration I have been following since the first day's of the Iraq invasion, when I first talked about it ... many people thought I was making this up and told me it's BS because they were so clouded with patriotism and 9/11, I been around hustler's all my life ... folk's in my family and associate's not only were the foundation of place's like Vegas, which I spent many childhood year's underage in the casino's because of my dad's business and family associate's ... but learned about certain thing's in money racket's ... it's too long to get into here though ... thank's again.

Bill Sumrall said...

I agree with Papamoka.
And now there's Haiti to consider in addition to Iraq and Afghanistan.
IMHO, the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti provides a crystal ball on what could happen here should health care reform fail, only instead of the lack of health care, the average citizen will be priced out of access to it.
I'm glad we're responding with money and materials, prayers and personnel, to Haiti's plight.
But it doesn't take too much thought to realize that "there but for the grace of God go I."
As for Iraq, I'm afraid "we broke it, we bought it."
I say redouble efforts to capture or kill Usama bin Laden.
I want to live in the United States of America, not a third world country that goes by the name of the United States of America.
So, by all means, help the Iraqi and Afghanistan forces to "man-up" as it were.
Maintain a reasonable presence (as we have in Germany and Japan since WWII) if necessary in Iraq and Afghanistan but don't sign a blank check pledging our soldiers' blood or our bullion there.
Because the U.S. cannot do for other countries in wartime what they refuse to do for themselves and while they might go on fighting for the rest of recorded history, that doesn't mean this country has to sign on for the rest of this century.

Tiny said...

The reason for all of this is because taxpayers in America don't have any oil wells in their back yards. Pappy Bush went to war for Oil. Dubya Bush went to war for oil but mostly to get revenge for his dad. They didn't like the bust of Pappy to the entrance of the hotel where people walked on his face everyday.

You are 150% right there are no limits when it comes to military industrial complex and big tax cuts for the rich. But when the American people need anything it's Katy bar the door! The Repukes constant mantra is "tax and spend Democracts." Or that the people need to WORK and get their own. Work where? In china? Iraq? India?

Anyone want to go live in the palaces in the green zone in Iraq? Tiny thinks we should charge rent as well as interest on the money they owe USA taxpayers.

Someone needs to light a fire under the Democrats in DC so they will forget the naysayers on the other side of the isle and go ahead and get health care and other reforms pushed through congress. That's Tiny's two-cents worth!

Ranch Chimp said...

One more point Ms.Demwit, please.
When I voted for Bush/Cheney 2000, I only worried was Bush too much fundamentalist? I never even suspected what he may do with such a surplus we had, I knew he was business savvy to a "degree", but investment wise failed on several venture's, in other word's ... he became the mark and got "had", so he wasnt too clever on that. What I didnt see was what Cheney had plan's for. No, I do not believe that Iraq was "strictly" about oil, and I do believe that Cheney in an odd way used Bush and this position to generate business, but also thinking that business make's the world go round, meaning ...it trickle's down. It's just that with an unregulated new global high tech economy, more interdependent continental wise than ever before in human history .... it bacame a "playground" if you will for "excessive" greed, and the type's who spend a lifetime playing the game ... "my empire is bigger than your's". Nothing wrong with greed, it actually is a motivational tool of sort, however, anything in "excess" is when it can become a hazzard. This is a very complex system that is hard to break. Being it was specifically "designed" that way, including all the "tax haven's" and legislation that is proposed, because the draft's are wrote up and designed by the corporate attorney's you see ... not the peoples representation. Even the "golden parachute" for instance is all a "front", you see ... you cap salaries/ bonuses for the public image of satisfaction from the masses, however the legislation you dont see is all the backdoor's and loophole's that are designed to make up multiple time's for the losses of profit's from one avenue to be picked up on other avenue's.

Sitting on 30% of the world's oil reserve's, if Saddam would have played ball in the global arena, and not be such an independent dealing on the black market only ... he never would have been invaded whether he made WMD or not. The controlling "global entities" that control the world market's, offered and wanted him to be a team player for year's ... he chose to go solo, that is what the other's of the arena didnt like. They could give a shit less about thing's like human right's, religion, or anything else ...which is all created for the masses to make good slave's basically.

Thnk You Ms.BJ ......