U.S. Embassy employees in Iraq are growing increasingly angry over what they say are inadequate security precautions in the heavily fortified Green Zone, where recent mortar and rocket attacks have claimed the lives of six people, including two U.S. citizens.And what are those security precautions?
On May 3, the embassy warned Green Zone residents to keep outdoor travel to a minimum and "remain within a hardened structure to the maximum extent possible and strictly avoid congregating outdoors." The message ordered individuals "whose place of duty is outside a hardened structure or traveling a substantial distance outdoors" to wear bulletproof vests and helmets "until further notice."But of course, when someone important from DC arrives with a boatload of cameras:
The officials also complained that important security precautions appeared to have been set aside during highly publicized official visits. During a March 31 visit from Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a high-profile presidential candidate, the embassy lifted a requirement that bulletproof vests and helmets be worn at all times. When a rocket landed outside the U.S. Embassy while Vice President Dick Cheney and several reporters visited last week, no warning sirens were sounded.
Imagine the news reports of a warning siren sounding during Cheney's speech in Bagdhad.
Then there are the "tin can" trailers, where the employees sleep, whose sides have been reinforced with sandbags, but nothing has been done for the roofs. The cost is prohibitive, you know.
Then there's the experienced diplomats who are deciding against working in such a dangerous place. So important posts are being filled with people not qualified to fill them. One staffer is quoted as saying that if this were any place else, they'd all be sent home.
This last quote sums it all up:
"I can't sleep, I can't eat," another official said. "My life should be worth more than achieving this government's agenda."Yep. It's going well over there in Baghdad.