• Security in Iraq: We’re from the Government and We’re Here to Help

    September 14, 2011

    Tags: , ,
    Posted in: Democracy, Embassy/State, Iraq, Military, Other Ideas

    This won’t hurt a bit. After eight years of victories in Iraq, here’s what the State Department had to say in its September 13 travel warning for Iraq:

    The Department of State warns US citizens against all but essential travel to Iraq given the dangerous security situation. Civilian air and road travel within Iraq remains dangerous… violence and threats against U.S. citizens persist and no region should be considered safe from dangerous conditions. Attacks against military and civilian targets throughout Iraq continue, including in the International (or “Green”) Zone (IZ).

    The US Embassy is located in the International Zone (IZ) in Baghdad. The IZ is a restricted access area. As of June 30, 2009, Iraqi authorities assumed responsibility for control of the IZ. Travelers to the IZ should be aware that Iraqi authorities may require special identification to enter the IZ or may issue IZ-specific access badges. Some terrorist or extremist groups continue to target US citizens for kidnapping.

    State Department guidance to US businesses in Iraq advises the use of protective security details. Detailed security information is available at the US Embassy website

    Hmmm. So, after eight years and 4474 dead Americans, Iraq still unsafe. Check. Iraq controls Green Zone which Americans call the International Zone so you can’t even get to the Embassy for help as an American unless the Iraqis approve. Check. Detailed info on the Embassy website. Check.

    OK, motoring over to the Embassy website for some detailed info. Front page features Hillary and a “soft” power story on woodworking. No detailed security information. OK, how about clicking on Emergency Messages. Sounds important.

    Under Emergency Messages the last Iraq-specific message is dated July 15, some two months old and that just repeats the heads-up that Americans can be kidnapped in Iraq. Check. Another kidnapping message is there, this one from May, which starts with the line “As the United States has stated publicly, Iraq continues to make significant progress on security with the assistance of American Forces” and then goes on to say you’ll be kidnapped for money and refers back to the main State website for details, which refers you back to the Embassy web site, which refers you back to the main State website… You get it.

    Not much help, so let’s click on Local Resources, then Security Companies. Ah hah, here is the meaty goodness we have been looking for. The US Embassy helpfully lists twelve firms that can supply you with your own mercenaries to accompany you on a jaunt through Iraq. It is unclear which if any of these are front companies for Blackwater, but it is odd that for the US Embassy, all but two of the firms listed are outside the United States. Most are in Britain or Dubai. What up American Embassy? Aren’t American mercenaries good enough for your freaking website? Show a little Flag people, help create jobs in America. Our mercenaries are as good as any foreign merc, except for those accents, which are kind of sexy.

    Clicked on a few links to these security companies, but no one lists prices. What does a mercenary cost these days anyway? Nothing on Angie’s List either. A promising one is AKE, which provides secure lodging in Iraq for you, featuring free WiFi (!) and “a bar with good atmosphere.” Lots of email addresses; I sent a few off, asking what the going rate for killing an Iraqi on my command might be, but so far no response.

    And that’s about it for the detailed information promised to travelers by the State Department. Travelers, please note that the World’s Largest Embassy (c) in Baghdad is closed both US and Iraqi holidays (so as not to miss a day off, the Embassy helpfully advises that “In keeping with the spirit of the Monday Holiday Bill, the intention of which is to provide three-day holiday weekends, US holidays covered by the Monday Holiday Bill will be observed on Sundays”, so if you are kidnapped on Columbus Day, please wait until the next business day to call and plead for your life.

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