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.”