The firefighting system in the massive $736 million embassy complex in Baghdad has potential safety problems that top U.S. officials dismissed with a “not to worry” attitude. In their rush to declare construction largely completed by the end of last year, officials ignored defects according to internal State Department documents, e-mails and interviews.
Some officials assert that in the push to complete the long-delayed project, potentially life-threatening problems have been left untouched. A State Department official who spoke anonymously because he feared retaliation said the problems are serious enough to get someone killed. The fire systems are the tip of the iceberg; no one has ever inspected the electrical system, the power plant and other parts of the embassy complex, which will house more than 1,000 people and is vulnerable to mortar attacks.
Other sources involved in the project, also requesting anonymity, insisted that disputes involve technical paperwork issues, largely because the contractor had never built an embassy and did not realize that under State Department rules it needed approval for substituting certain materials. Much of that work needs to be reexamined and checked, delaying the project even further. A Congressional Services Research report provides the breakdown in expenditures accumulating under the Bush administration.
But, heck, what’s a billion dollars more when Bush has already sunk close to 500 billion dollars trying to make Iraq safe for the largest U.S. embassy in the world. Looks like Bush is anticipating an unending presence in Iraq and the Middle East.
Yep, build it, and we will stay.