[A-List] Wrecked Iraq

Charles Brown charlesb at cncl.ci.detroit.mi.us
Tue Nov 4 07:18:06 MST 2008


Wrecked Iraq
25th October 2008, 08:22 pm by Stan 
…what was once the most advanced Middle Eastern society - economically,
socially, and technologically - has become an economic basket case,
rivaling the most desperate countries in the world. Only the (as yet
unfulfilled) promise of oil riches, which probably cannot be effectively
accessed or used until US forces withdraw from the country, provides a
glimmer of hope that Iraq will someday lift itself out of the abyss into
which the US invasion pushed it.

By Michael Schwartz

Even before the spectacular presidential election campaign became a
national obsession, and the worst economic crisis since the Great
Depression crowded out other news, coverage of the Iraq War had dwindled
to next to nothing. National newspapers had long since discontinued
their daily feasts of multiple - usually front page - reports on the
country, replacing them with meager meals of mostly summary stories
buried inside the paper. On broadcast and cable TV channels, where
violence in Iraq had once been the nightly lead, whole news cycles went
by without a mention of the war.

The tone of the coverage also changed. The powerful reports of
desperate battles and miserable Iraqis disappeared. There are still
occasional stories about high-profile bombings or military campaigns in
obscure places, but the bulk of the news is about quiescence in old hot
spots, political maneuvering by Iraqi factions, and the newly emerging
routines of ordinary life.

A typical “return to normal life” piece appeared October 11 in the
New York Times under the headline, “Schools Open, and the First Test
is Iraqi Safety.” Featured was a Baghdad schoolteacher welcoming her
students by assuring them that “security has returned to Baghdad, city
of peace”.

Even as his report began, though, Times reporter Sam Dagher hedged the
“return to normal” theme. Here was his first paragraph in full:

“On the first day of school, 10-year-old Basma Osama looked uneasy
standing in formation under an already stifling morning sun. She and
dozens of schoolmates listened to a teacher’s pep talk - probably a
necessary one, given the barren and garbage-strewn playground.”

This glimpse of the degraded conditions at one Baghdad public school,
amplified in the body of Dagher’s article by other examples, is
symptomatic of the larger reality in Iraq. In a sense, the (often
exaggerated) decline in violence in…

FULL ARTICLE at Asia Times

Category: General  |  Comment (RSS) 
Timothy R. Anderson:
I go immediately to the news-article I spotted on page 6 -A of the USA
Today newspaper, Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2005 . In it, the author, Dave Moniz,
describes how the Bush Administration asked Congress for
eighty-two billion dollars. 

” WASHINGTON - The White House asked Congress for $ 82 billion in
special spending Monday, almost $ 75 billion of which would go to the
Pentagon to help pay for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, fix broken
equipment, and increase the size of the U.S. Army in 2005. ”

” Also included is nearly $ 1 billion for tsunami aid, $ 658 million
for a new U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, and hundreds of millions of dollars
in aid to U.S. allies in the war on terrorism. ”

” But the overwhelming majority of the money would go to the
Pentagon. It comes as a ’supplemental ‘ request to the normal
Pentagon budget for 2005, which was approved by Congress last
year. ” 

The reason that this is still significant, in my opinion, is that the
USA’s government continues to award money to the Pentagon, here it is
October 2008; thousands of Iraqis have been killed, bombed,
made into homeless persons, etc. etc. etc. That’s not
a good way to spend billions of dollars ! 

Going into a foreign country, knocking their government’s leadership
out of power ( justified by that government’s ” evil ” -ness or
not ! ) , claiming that it was done to bring freedom to people who
are capable of running the show themselves………. that is
a horrible, horrible, horrible misuse of money. An incredible
arrogant horrible misuse of money.

Because it does not achieve good things for the Iraqi people.
Because it doesn ‘t achieve good things for the American military.
Because it does NOT achieve good things for the civilians of
the United States Of America.

Timothy R. Anderson

27 October 2008, 1:11 pm 
John Owens:
I wrote to you a few months back, but I haven’t heard anything back,
one thing I forgot to mention in my last email was in I think June 2006
I was in FKTC Kuwaiti office talking to who was then the HR Director
Cris, I can’t remember his last name but he was a British man, he told
me there were 2500 FKTC employees working on US Gov. projects in Iraq, I
was an employee of FKTC at that time, I only met two other Americans
working for FKTC at that time, Doug Harger and Mike Ford. We spent
billions of dollars rebuilding Iraq, yet we weren’t allowed to work
there, I’m sure there were a lot of Americans who wanted to go there
and work, I mean, it was US dollars why not let US citizens have the
chance earn some those tax dollars back. When I was in Iraq nothing
worked right, Electric, water, the roads were all messed up, whenever it
rained all the sewers in the city backed up and often contaminated the
water used for drinking and bathing. I keep telling everyone there was a
reason Very Few Americans were allowed to work there, it was obvious on
the US Embassy, OBO didn’t want Americans knowing what was going on
there, but elsewhere in Iraq if we had skilled American workers doing
the job and earning some of those tax dollars back, the rebuilding
efforts wouldn’t have cost so much and gotten so screwed up. 

Below is what I wrote to you last time, but I’m not sure you got it.

I was on that site and spent a total of 16 months in Iraq. I gave
testimony before congress and have cooperated with the media in an
effort to let not only Americans, but the world know what’s going on

I’m John Owens, the guy that worked on the US Embassy in Baghdad for
71/2 months from Nov.05 to July 06. When I spoke to congress on C-Span
about the problems with the contractor FKTC and OBO about labor abuse
and trafficking, it was a small portion of the problems I saw there. 

Mary French was the most incompetent project manager I ever saw and
should be brought up on criminal charges for a wide variety of reasons.
How could a project director run a job site of that magnitude without
any kind of safety program. I was on site everyday and I never saw one
safety meeting. I think every labor law on the books was broken on that
site, not to mention human and civil rights violations. Again, another
reason they didn’t want Americans on that job. 

The fact that she was not qualified to manage the project was the
reason she got the job. She let FKTC do anything they wanted to do, and
get away with shoddy and substandard workmanship as well as endangering
peoples lives. This was partly because she didn’t know any better and
also because Jim Golden and Ret. General Williams of Overseas Building
Operations told her to.

I was amazed when I got there and saw OBO (US Government) only had a
handful of people overseeing the job, and none of them had ever been on
a embassy construction site before. Not including a few security people,
there were only four people who were supposed to be supervising FKTC.
The mechanical superintendent was from the Navy, he worked on ships
boilers and had never been on an Embassy project before. There was a guy
from another company “not OBO” who looked after electrical part
time, then there was Juvencio Lopez who was there to supervise the staff
housing buildings and didn’t seem to have a clue about embassy

I think it was around April or May 06 when OBO ( Golden & Williams)
brought in around twenty Malaysian or Indonesian engineers and
secretaries (none had a security clearance), Golden’s wife was
Indonesian and I’m told that’s how they got the job. I heard the
logistics manager Jim Schofield also had a Indonesian wife. Schofield
wasn’t allowed on site much because Mary French didn’t like him and
FKTC hated him, FKTC did not want any Americans on the job, that’s why
I was the only one on site who worked for FKTC. I guess they thought
they could control me, and I’d keep quiet the same way they controlled

So, we had inexperienced primary contractor whose management staff was
made up of about 95% Lebanese and twenty or so Indonesian staff for the
State Dept. responsible for building the largest and most fortified US
Embassy in the world. I would say the only time most of these people had
ever even been in a US Embassy was to get turned down for a visa to the
states, they certainly didn’t have a clue how to build one.

I could write a book on this, I mean, who would think you find could
Anti-Americanism on a US Embassy Construction Project. 

I have a lot of information about that job if the American public found
out about, well, they would probably really get angry, think about all
the skilled American tradesmen in the states who would have gone over
there and built an Embassy that wouldn’t be condemned before it’s
occupied, too bad Americans weren’t allowed to work there, they just
send tax dollars for foreigners who don’t seem to like Americans, only
American dollars. 

Let me know if you need any info. I have copies of my DOD card, LOA,
and contract

John Owens

MODERATOR: Sorry we missed this first time out. I wouldn’t call it
“anti” American to take issue with powers and principalities that
wrap themselves in flags. I am in th house with two other Americans
right now (spouse and daughter), preparing to go to work with two other
Americans, and to work with twenty volunteer Americans, in a town full
of Americans, situated near the east coast of the United States. I’ll
be driving and walking among Americans, and may greet an American as I
buy tonight’s supper-fixins. I am not against them; though I share
your outrage. On the other hand, I won’t valorize them above all
others because they are American. That said, we a[[reciate this snapshot
from the inside; and I for one am unsurprised, except by your
willingness to witness. Thanks.

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