"The question puzzles and enrages a city: how is it that the Americans cannot keep the electricity running in Baghdad for more than a couple of hours a day, yet still manage to build themselves the biggest embassy on Earth?" wrote London Times reporter Daniel McGrory on May 3, 2006.
The London Times continued "Irritation grows as residents deprived of air-conditioning and running water three years after the US-led invasion watch the massive US Embassy they call 'George W's palace' rising from the banks of the Tigris.
In the pavement cafes, people moan that the structure is bigger than anything Saddam Hussein built. They are not impressed by the architects' claims that the diplomatic outpost will be visible from space....They are more interested in knowing whether the US State Department paid for the prime real estate or simply took it."Fraud & Mismanagement
On May 1, 2003, aboard an aircraft carrier, standing beneath a "Mission Accomplished" banner and in front of the world press, President George W. Bush declared, "We're helping to rebuild Iraq, where the dictator built palaces for himself, instead of hospitals and schools."
A zingy sound-byte, of course, but far from accurate.
For example, an April 30, 2006 report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction recounted that a $243 million 2-year US Army Corps of Engineers program to build 150 health care clinics in Iraq has resulted in merely 20 clinics for Iraqi citizens.
And shoddy construction has been alleged at many of the 20 completed clinics. The New York Times wrote of five clinics in Kirkuk, "Interior photographs of the structures show bare walls made of brick fragments through which sunlight streamed and stairs made of concrete already crumbling into dust."
The New York Times reported on April 30, 2006, "Begun in September 2003, the effort, called Task Force Shield, was so disorganized that the auditors were never able to determine basic facts like how many Iraqis were trained, how many weapons were purchased and where much of the equipment ended up, the report says. A fraud investigation is now underway of Task Force Shield.
U.S. Embassy: A Lavish American Palace
Against the Iraq backdrop of violence and misery, soaring unemployment and middle class flight, malnutrition and unprecedented illness for Iraqis... rises an American embassy-palace the likes of which the world has never before seen, and four plush, seemingly-permanent bases for US armed forces.
Here is info published by the world's leading news media sources about the new US Embassy in Baghdad's Green Zone. It is/has...
-- the largest embassy in world history
-- the only building project in Iraq on-time and on-budget
-- a bomb-proof super-bunker with a 15-ft thick perimeter wall
-- 21 buildings on 104 acres, the size of 80 football fields
-- wired for state-of-the-art communications and surveillance
-- "extraordinary" security measures
-- Congress was told that the cost is $592 million
-- impressive residences for the Ambassador and his deputy, and six posh apartments for senior officials
-- a water-treatment plant and power generator (to provide basic services not yet restored to pre-invasion levels for Iraqis)
-- two huge blocks of offices for 8,000 US staff workers
-- the biggest swimming pool in Iraq
-- a well-equipped gym
-- tennis courts
-- movie theater
-- restaurants serving US food chain favorites
-- a "swish" American Club for evening social functions