Tuesday, January 6, 2009

"Republican" Palace in Iraq, Again?

The new American Embassy opened in Baghdad. Situated on the banks of the Tigris river, one mile south of Saddam Hussein's Republican Palace -- U.S. headquarters in Baghdad since 2003 -
the Embassy covers 104 acres and is the largest in the world, housing 1,200 U.S. diplomats, soldiers, and government staff from 14 federal agencies, according to a U.S. State Department news release.

The original price tag on the 27-building complex was $592 million, but a congressional report from 2007 -- citing State Department documents -- indicated the cost could end up $144 million higher. With the 2007 report that would mean $736 MILLION. How many millions tacked onto that since the report? When the figure figures appear will it be over One Billion?

A U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee report of 2006 indicated there were 21 buildings on the site. The embassy’s 104 acres is six times larger than the United Nations compound in New York, and two-thirds the acreage of Washington’s National Mall. Vatican City has a total area of 108.7 acres.

And it is the size of 80 football fields!

It seems our State Department's Bureau of Overseas Building Operations, rejected one bid from an American Company, and then waived a law that requires open and competitive bidding. It awarded a sole-source contract for the unclassified portions of the new embassy complex to a Kuwait-based firm, First Kuwaiti General Trading & Contracting Co.

Embassy construction had missed several deadlines; several problems have emerged, including faulty electrical and firefighting systems; and the project has been subject of a criminal investigation. It appears that the company that has built our Embassy, leading supplier of low-paid laborers recruited from poor Asian countries to build and operate U.S. military camps in Iraq frequently as a subcontractor to guess who–Halliburton’s multibillion support services agreement.

So our government took down Saddam’s grand Republican Palace, and a mile away built the United States "Republican" Palace. Are there richly adorned vacation suites for Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld to enjoy while they overlook the Tigris while sipping a beer, the Tigris which flows with the blood of thousands of lives lost in the unnecessary Iraqi War; blood of military men and women, blood of innocent civilians, men, women, and children.

All done for revenge, oil, and power?

And why do we need this huge complex? It feels like more waste, more billions, more ego.

15 more days....thank goodness.

I came across this quote from our President-elect today that I really liked:

"As I said before, in my own sort of mental library, the Civil Rights movement has a powerful hold on me. It’s a point in time where I think heaven and earth meet. Because it’s a moment in which a collective faith transforms everything. So when I read Gandhi or I read King or I read certain passages of Abraham Lincoln and I think about those times where people’s values are tested, I think those inspire me." ~Barack Obama

And he inspires me.


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