On Wednesday, an essayist exposed an American architectural firm’s designs for the new United States Embassy currently being constructed in Baghdad, Iraq.
Tom Engelhardt, in his article “The Colossus of Baghdad,” for Antiwar.com May 30th, pointed readers to the plans which had been posted at the Website of the embassy’s designers, Berger Devine Yaeger of Kansas City, Missouri, who took down their entire site after being contacted by State Department employees according to the AFP yesterday.
“Our desire would be that this not be in the public domain,” State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos said after officials called the firm of Berger Devine Yaeger within minutes of learning from a reporter that the embassy plans had been posted on its website.
“We work very hard to ensure the safety and security of our employees overseas and this kind of information out in the public domain detracts from that effort,” Gallegos told AFP.
“When it was brought to our attention that these drawings were on their website, they were contacted by department officials and subsequently agreed to take it down,” he said.
The new embassy, which has been compared in size to the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, and, most recently, with Vatican City by Representative Ron Paul in the second Republican presidential debate, has been the subject of much controversy since its construction began.
On Wednesday, Engelhardt wrote:
Imagine this: At $592 million, its proudest boast is that, unlike almost any other American construction project in that country, it is coming in on budget and on time. Of course, with a 30 percent increase in staffing size since Congress approved the project two years ago, it is now estimated that being “represented” in Baghdad will cost a staggering $1.2 billion per year. No wonder, with a crew of perhaps 1,000 officials assigned to it and a supporting staff (from food service workers to Marine guards and private security contractors) of several thousand more. …
Admittedly, it may be hard to take that refreshing dip or catch a few sets of tennis in Baghdad’s heat if the present order for all U.S. personnel in the Green Zone to wear flak jackets and helmets at all times remains in effect â€“ or if, as in the present palace/embassy, the pool (and Ping-Pong tables) are declared, thanks to increasing mortar and missile attacks, temporarily “off limits.” In that case, more time will probably be spent in the massive, largely windowless-looking recreation center, one of over 20 blast-resistant buildings BDY has planned. Perhaps this will house the promised embassy cinema. (Pirates of the Middle East, anyone?)
Though the pictures have been removed from the internet by their publishers, Antiwar.com has obtained a full set.