Wasn’t There an Episode of Monk Like This?

Sounds like an episode of any crime drama: a huge construction project is months overdue and millions of dollars over budget, and meanwhile a mysterious death has occurred that threatens the project’s completion. A mysterious figure from Washington shows up to “investigate,” evidence disappears, and then enraged public official gets the investigator thrown off the site.

This is what’s happening at the US embassy in Baghdad.

Washington Post story here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/06/AR2007100601450.html?hpid=topnews

The Baghdad project has been complicated by a dispute between the U.S. ambassador in Iraq, Ryan C. Crocker, and the top Washington-based official charged with overseeing the project. That official, James L. Golden, has been barred from entering Iraq by Crocker because he allegedly disobeyed embassy orders during an investigation of a worker’s death, sources said.

The sources, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were revealing sensitive internal matters, said Golden — who is a contract employee — was suspected of destroying evidence in the case. When confronted by embassy officials, he allegedly told them he worked for Washington, not the embassy. Crocker then banished him from the country.

This, of course, is only one small reason why the behemoth embassy didn’t open on time (originally supposed to open in June of 2007, if memory serves), and the regular reasons are there in spades. Shoddy workmanship on the part of contractors being the main factor.

The massive U.S. embassy under construction in Baghdad could cost $144 million more than projected and will open months behind schedule because of poor planning, shoddy workmanship, internal disputes and last-minute changes sought by State Department officials, according to U.S. officials and a department document provided to Congress.

The embassy, which will be the largest U.S. diplomatic mission in the world, was budgeted at $592 million. The core project was supposed to have been completed by last month*, but the timetable has slipped so much that the State Department has sought and received permission from the Iraqi government to allow about 2,000 non-Iraqi construction employees to stay in the country until March.

Two key office buildings, including the new chancery, will not be finished until early 2009, according to the document.

This is where I need a little animated icon of an American flag waving. Go, us!

*No, it was supposed to have been completed in June. Let’s not let revisionist history alter the timeline.

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