Sunday, January 11, 2009

How safe is the US Embassy in Baghdad?

Raising the flag

Last Monday, the US Embassy in Baghdad had its grand opening ceremony after cost-overruns and repeated building problems. US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker attended the ceremonies as did the former US Ambassador to Iraq and now Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

Crocker, Talabani, Negroponte

The US State Dept gave press briefings last week. Somehow, in all five, neither spokesperson Sean McCormack nor Robert Wood managed to address that. They never even gave it a single-sentence shout-out.

Maybe they were afraid of questions? While the official press release from the US Embassy insisted the cost for "the largest American Embassy structure to date" [!] was $592 million the reality was that the price was most likely close to $150 million more than that.

Though a ton of tax payer money was being spent to establish a US fortress in Iraq, there still appeared to be some security concerns. Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) noted that those snagging invites were informed, "No firearms, cameras, cell phones or other electronics". Excepting firearms (maybe they were afraid Jalal would show up with a six-shooter and, in a festive mood, fire a few rounds skyward) what those conditionals really speak of is insecurity.

All that money spent for the embassy, located in the relative safety of the Green Zone, and still the fear. And people wonder why the US diplomatic corps avoids assignments to Iraq.
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