Who Hijacked Our Country

Friday, March 23, 2007

America’s Gilded Palace in Iraq

How many of you think American forces will ever, ever be pulling out of Iraq? Gotcha! We’re staying and we’re digging in. We’re gonna be that unwanted relative who moved in and never left. And the Iraqis will LIKE it!

We’re building a sprawling embassy in Baghdad. It’ll be the largest American embassy in the world, covering an area the size of Vatican City. Our new imperial palace will be on 104 acres, with 21 buildings and a staff of 5,000. Congress has already appropriated $1 billion toward building this embassy. But don’t worry, we’ll be leaving soon.

Our new fortress/embassy will be occupying the grounds of Saddam Hussein’s former palace. How’s that for symbolism? “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”

A construction foreman with 27 years of experience, John Owen, quit his job on this project after seven months. Describing the contractor, First Kuwaiti Trading & Contracting, he said “I’ve never seen a project more fucked up. Every U.S. labor law was broken.”

John Owen informed the U.S. State Department — who had awarded this contract to First Kuwaiti — of what he had witnessed: security breaches, safety violations and workers being beaten by their managers. And this was right in the middle of the American-controlled Green Zone. The labor camps where thousands of these migrant workers lived had practically no sanitation or medical care.

First Kuwaiti imports most of its workers from the Philippines, India, Nepal and Pakistan — not from Iraq. Because of so many safety and security concerns, some of these governments have now banned their citizens from working in Iraq. These countries’ passports are often stamped with “Not Valid For Iraq.” Because of this, First Kuwaiti has had to “sneak” these workers from Kuwait into Iraq.

Here's how it works: the workers are told by First Kuwaiti that they're going to Dubai. They're herded through airport security, with instructions to tell Customs that they're going to Dubai. Then at the last minute, the workers are instead herded into a different, unmarked plane that flies them to Baghdad instead of Dubai.

A medical technician was fired by First Kuwaiti after he reported several deaths that he thought were from medical malpractice. His observations included: “There hadn’t been any follow up on medical care. People were walking around intoxicated on pain relievers with unwrapped wounds and there were a lot of infections.” He also said “I told First Kuwaiti that you don’t give painkillers to people who are running machinery and working on heavy construction and they said ‘that's how we do it.’”

Isn't this great? No wonder those grateful liberated Iraqis showered our troops with flowers and ice cream. As the article says, this sick twisted fiasco is “the most lasting monument to the U.S. liberation and occupation of Iraq.”

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Blogger LETS TALK said...

That cant be true tom, I just saw an award given to FKTC, by our Marine Corps: see AWARD.
This little embassy, being put together by cheap labor, will host not only our embassy employees, but all American companies doing business in Iraq in the future... that's why we are using our military over there, so our big business want be confined over here.
"We’re building a sprawling embassy in Baghdad. It’ll be the largest American embassy in the world, covering an area the size of Vatican City. Our new imperial palace will be on 104 acres, with 21 buildings and a staff of 5,000."
Then you say our Congress have already approved funds for this business hide away... now we know why we want give up Iraq, no matter what!

March 23, 2007 at 5:19 PM  
Blogger J. Marquis said...

Wow, good information, Tom.

March 23, 2007 at 6:01 PM  
Blogger Mile High Pixie said...

Dear Gawd, Tom. Send me over there right now. My contractor and I will whip that crew into shape, and to Hell with "how First Kuwaiti does it." (Did I mention my contractor is bringing my project in two weeks early and under budget?)

March 23, 2007 at 7:09 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Let's Talk: That's an impressive-looking award. If FKTC got an award like that, what are some of the other contractors like?

We've definitely got some big plans over there. Declaring "Mission Accomplished" and bringing the troops home quickly -- that was never in the cards.

J. Marquis: Thanks. Yeah, this is good to know about.

Mile High Pixie: "Two weeks early and under budget"? Better stay out of Iraq. You'd be showing up Halliburton and FKTC, and that's a no no.

March 23, 2007 at 8:35 PM  
Blogger LETS TALK said...

Hey tom, after reading your post on FKTC. I did some research on them and other companies doing business in Iraq.

Your post have touched on some very serious and hurting things.
Yes, hurting things, our own military are watching citizens from other countries being used as if slaves.... and to quote your site:

"security breaches, safety violations and workers being beaten by their managers. And this was right in the middle of the American-controlled Green Zone."
This meaning, our own military are aware of what is going on and doing nothing about it.

My God, we need to get away from that country (Iraq), and stop this madness.

March 23, 2007 at 9:30 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Let's Talk: Yeah, it's all pretty disheartening. So many people involved in the Iraqi war -- soldiers, workers, contractors -- had only the best intentions. And yet some of the people in charge -- just some, not all -- are only lining their own pockets and/or settling personal scores. And those people need to pay.

March 24, 2007 at 1:14 AM  
Blogger PoliShifter said...

I wonder if they think Iraq will be a quaint little colony one day ten years from now where Americans will go and lounge by the Tigris River as the Chevorn Oil trucks roll by while Halliburton builds more oil rigs.

I have a feeling that if we don't get out, not only will we get stuck there forever but we'll get our asses kicked and our treasury drained simultaneously.

This type of behavior is exactly what sunk previous super powers like England, France, and Spain. Those countries neglected their own populations while spending more and more capital abroad to maintain a military stronghold over their colonies.

It is not sustainable. History proves that the model always collapses. Wheter it's Rome or the United States. We will fall if we continue this bullshit.

March 24, 2007 at 10:14 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

PoliShifter: It's hard to tell what the Neocons' long-term intentions are over there. It's possible that 10 years from now Baghdad will be a prosperous vacationland and business center for American VIPs. But this won't be accomplished by building a billion-dollar palace/fortress in Baghdad using slave labor.

You're right, the U.S. is having a lot of parallels right now with England, France and Spain (and the Roman Empire) in their dying days.

March 24, 2007 at 11:31 AM  
Blogger Candace said...

This is exactly what they're doing in Dubai - using Phillipino and other slave labor who are forced to work in unsafe conditions. Shameful, absolutely shameful. I knew about the ridiculously large and lavish embassy, but I didn't know about the way it's being built. Thanks for posting this.

Meanwhile, in New Orleans ...

March 25, 2007 at 8:26 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Candace: Yeah, that article was straight out of the movie Syriana. I knew the movie wasn't fiction when I saw it, but seeing an article several months later about the exact same thing -- laborers living in subhuman conditions and being fired or beaten if they complained -- was really mind-boggling.

March 25, 2007 at 9:20 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

Sounds to me like what we are building is a gigantic TARGET.

Aren't there about a dozen other permanent bases being built over there? Hell, we'll never be out of that place.

March 28, 2007 at 12:27 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Snave: That's an excellent point. A 104-acre state-of-the-art embassy complex would make an excellent target. And the swankiest offices will probably be located right in the bulls-eye.

March 28, 2007 at 1:13 PM  
Anonymous David Phinney said...

Hey, why don't you credit your sources on labor trafficking?

I did the reporting on the embassy story.

May 21, 2007 at 4:19 PM  

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